Google Maps Driving Mode Gets Big Update as Android Auto for Phones Is Almost Gone

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And in addition to new features coming to Android Auto on the car screen, the company is also planning some pretty big changes on the phone front too, with the mobile version of the app projected to go dark in the coming weeks.

Android Auto for phones is therefore being retired, and as a replacement, Google is launching an all-new driving mode bundled with Google Maps and powered by Google Assistant.

Already available as a preview, the driving mode is getting a massive update ahead of the official launch (and the demise of Android Auto for phones), and it all starts with a new way to launch it.

Beginning with this update, you can start the driving mode either by simply connecting your phone to the car’s Bluetooth system or by just saying “Hey, Google, let’s drive.” This voice command will be recognized by Google Assistant, which will automatically launch the driving mode to an all-new dashboard view.

Google says it has specifically developed this dashboard to provide easy access to the most important things for a driver, including navigation, phone calls, and music apps. The dashboard uses glanceable, tappable cards that are large enough to reduce the distraction and which you can interact with using nothing but a single tap.

And because allowing drivers to keep their eyes on the road is so important, Google has also added support for another voice command that allows the app to automatically read messages when they come in. Just say “Hey, Google, turn on auto read” to activate it.

The new driving mode is scheduled to launch in the coming weeks for users out there, though initially, it’ll only be offered to those whose Android phones are set to English, German, Spanish, French, and Italian.