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Google Assistant Driving Mode begins to appear, one year after its release

You’ve always been able to run the Android Auto app on your phone to get a better / safer interface while driving, but Google does not widely advertise this functionality (the Auto app is mainly used to connect to car entertainment systems) and it works not always correct. Google announced a replacement over a year ago on Google I / O, and it’s finally appearing on phones.

Google Assistant’s driving mode was first revealed at Google I / O 2019, but the company has been relatively silent about it ever since. Driving mode was intended to switch the phone to a minimalist interface with a single voice command with a home page containing shortcuts for navigation, calls, music playback and other options. Google later said driving mode would replace Android Auto̵

7;s phone mode, though the company initially said the transition would take place “in the coming months”, which did not quite work out.

The original incarnation of driving mode

Earlier this month, it began to look like the long-awaited driving mode could end up as a feature of Google Maps rather than the app-independent approach from Assistant or Android Auto. It looks like the functionality will be rolled out to more people, though it’s still unclear if it’s a limited test or if Google intends to send this to everyone in the coming weeks. Our friends at XDA Developers say that several of their phones have the new mode enabled, but it has not yet appeared on any of my devices.

The new driving mode is accessible by tapping your photo in the Google Maps app, tapping ‘Navigation settings’ and finally selecting ‘Google Assistant settings’. This menu previously took you to the General Assistant Settings screen (the same one available via Google Home, Search, etc.), but now it opens a new Driving Mode panel. You’re supposed to be able to say “OK Google, let’s drive” to get the new interface up, but even for people with drive mode, it doesn’t seem to work yet.

Driving Mode (Source: XDA Developers)

In its current incarnation, Driving Mode adds a bottom toolbar to Google Maps with an Assistant button, a button to scroll through supported apps, and media control. The overall design is similar to Android Auto, but the controls are moved around to better fit the phone’s image format.

Keep an eye on the new driving mode as it (possibly) starts to reach more phones. Here, Google hopes to eventually release it from Maps so you can use alternative map applications like Waze.

Maps - Navigate and explore
Maps - Navigate and explore

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