Google retiring Android Auto for portable devices: Assistant Driving Mode will offer built-in mobile driving experience in Android 12

Android Auto Assistant Driving Mode
Android Auto deprecated in favor of Assistant Driving Mode. Pic credit: Google

Google is killing Android Auto for handheld devices. The search giant is now effectively pushing Assistant Driving Mode for Android smartphones starting from Android 12.

Android Auto for phones will retire in the near future. Specifically speaking, Google is reportedly replacing Android Auto for portable devices with Assistant Driving Mode in Android 12.

Google never intended to let Android Auto keep on working:

Google launched Android Auto back in 2014. Back then, carmakers did not support the platform, and rarely offered the same as a standard option.

Simply put, support for Android Auto was a novelty rather than a necessity. Needless to add, car manufacturers either did not offer the same or charged extra.

Understanding such hurdles could significantly limit Android Auto adoption, Google launched a standalone app called Android Auto for phone screens. The app essentially mimicked Android Auto functionality and turned a smartphone into the car’s dashboard.

At the time of the release, Google even called the app ‘Stopgap’. Google offered the app to users who needed an in-car experience but lacked a car that is compatible with Android Auto.

Android Auto for phone screens basically makes everything big, easy or quick to read, and simple to operate. There are big icons, quick access to Google Assistant, large cards for notifications, better Google Maps integration, etc.

Google released Assistant Driving Mode in 2020. For reasons yet unknown, the company hasn’t actively deployed or rolled out the platform. It let Android Auto function even though several of the features were now easily available in standalone platforms.

Google pushing users from Android Auto to Assistant Driving:

Moving ahead, Google will restrict the availability of Android Auto. Simply put, the company has clearly stated that Android smartphone users must use Google Assistant Driving Mode, while Android Auto is now only available for car screens.

Some of the users who got bumped to the new experience claimed the Driving Mode features a far better user interface and has less visual clutter. Users can also use the inbuilt slider to swap between Android Auto’s interface and the Driving Mode’s interface on the car’s infotainment screens.

The mandatory transition from Android Auto to Assistant Driving Mode has already begun for some Google Pixel smartphones that received the Android 12 OS update.

Incidentally, the Android Auto app is still available on the Google Play Store. However, the listing now says that it is incompatible with Pixel devices running Android 12.

Google hasn’t yet updated its support page about the Android Auto for phone screens yet. Even the Android Auto app contains the old changelog. However, as the Driving Mode has all the features Android Auto has, the transition was inevitable.

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