It might be the end of the road for Android Auto on phone screens


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A couple of years ago, Google announced an all-new experience for drivers seeking to use their phones hands-free without endangering others. Dubbed “Assistant Driving Mode,” it was intended to replace Android Auto’s dated display — until suddenly, it wasn’t. Instead, Google developed a shortcut for Android 10 devices, designed to keep the old Auto interface alive and well while work continued on Assistant Driving Mode. With the newer app slowly arriving throughout various regions worldwide, the old UI is likely on its way out.

Some users are opening the dedicated Android Auto for phone screens app today only to find it no longer functions. As XDA Developers discovered, some Pixel devices running the Android 12 beta are getting pop-up notifications redirecting users to try out Assistant Driving Mode. Specifically, the warning notes that Android Auto is no longer supported on phone displays, now requiring a dedicated car screen to use.

Image via XDA Developers.

Now, it’s worth noting that only one of XDA’s devices on hand actually displayed this notification. The AP staff tried several devices but failed to replicate the same warning. This is Google we’re talking about, so it’s likely a server-side switch that hasn’t hit most users just yet.

While this banner could simply be some odd behavior triggered by the Android 12 beta, frankly, the writing’s been on the wall for years. While the dedicated car UI has been refreshed and updated, Auto’s design on phone screens has stayed unchanged. The shortcut Google developed back in 2019 never even received an update, which could be another sign it was always meant as a stop-gap solution.

Screenshot 20210817 172020 Screenshot 20210817 171933

Left: Android Auto. Right: Assistant Driving Mode.

Assistant Driving Mode feels like a much more modern experience — including support for taller displays — but it’s not all good news. To activate Driving Mode, you’ll need to start by entering a destination into Google Maps — something that isn’t always necessary if you’re headed to a known location. Once you’ve started navigation, you can swap between calls, messages, media apps, and even cancel your route altogether, but it’s still an additional step that isn’t required in Android Auto.

Presumably, you’ll be able to continue using Android Auto in regions where Assistant Driving Mode isn’t available. We’ve seen the feature arrive in several countries over the past year, although it’s still not accessible everywhere. For now, enjoy Android Auto while you still can — it might not be around much longer.

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