Google Assistant Driving Mode for Maps Spotted on Android Devices

Joanna Estrada
October 19, 2020

Google Assistant's Driving Mode was first revealed at Google I/O 2019, but the company has been relatively silent about it since then. The new feature is supposed to serve as a replacement for the Android Auto app on smartphones. With 2020 almost nearing its end, the Assistant driving mode may finally see the light of day. XDA-Developers has discovered (via Android Police) that Google Assistant's driving mode is at least partially enabled for Android users. The feature was first unveiled by Google at its I/O developers conference previous year. The objective, however, remains the same - allowing you to chat, message, and play music without getting distracted from driving. This menu previously took you to the general Assistant settings screen (the same one accessible through Google Home, Search, etc.), but now it brings up a new panel for Driving Mode.

The rollout of Google Assistant Driving Mode on my devices doesn't seem to be tied to any particular version of Google Maps and the Google App. Driving Mode was meant to switch the phone to a minimalist interface with a single voice command, with a home page containing shortcuts to navigation, calling, music playback, and other options.

The Google Assistant Driving Mode UI that was shown off at Google I/O 2019 looks very different compared to what has been rolling out for some users these last few weeks.

The driving mode on Google Assistant also aims to deliver a completely hands-free experience. For instance, Assistant gives you contextual information when you get a call or text comes in. It's possible that Google is still running A/B tests for the UI, but it's also possible that Google significantly changed the interface since it's been over a year from the announcement.

The driving mode appears to be inspired by other driving modes. For instance, Samsung offers an S Bike, a built-in feature that is designed especially for two-wheeler motorists to help manage communications while focusing on driving.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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