Yesterday, it emerged that Android Auto would be gaining a “Phone Screens” app even after Google in May announced Assistant Driving Mode as a replacement. A new report paints that upcoming app as nothing more than a stopgap in light of the Assistant-backed feature not meeting its summer release.
After speaking to Google, The Verge calls the upcoming Phone Screens app a “stopgap.” The announcement comes days after Android 10’s launch, which sees the Android Auto app disappear from the launcher for some users.
This is related to Google simplifying the car experience by building in the Android Auto service into the newest OS, but results in an un-launchable app for everyone else that relied on the phone-only mode. If Assistant Driving Mode was available, Google would push users to the intended replacement.
However, today’s report reveals how there’s now “no projected release date” for Assistant Driving Mode. On stage at I/O 2019, Google said it would be released this summer. But weeks to that deadline, it has yet to emerge, thus requiring Google to provide some driving experience on Android 10 devices.
If anything, the fact that Android Auto for Phone Screens is not due until the “coming weeks,” suggests an even longer delay for Driving Mode. Meanwhile, the upcoming app will only be available temporarily. According to The Verge:
That version of Android Auto should be basically identical to what existed before, but with one very large caveat: it’s not going to last forever. Google will sunset it as soon as the Assistant-powered interface is ready for wide adoption. Note that that could mean that both apps will co-exist for a time.
Google has signaled that Android Auto on phones will not get further updates. The latest redesign for Auto was entirely focused on cars, while Driving Mode allows for better-integrated functionality. For example, the Assistant feature can resume podcasts or music that you were playing on Smart Displays before getting into the car.
Overall, this a good move for Google and one of the company’s rare consolations that helps ensure a consistent user experience in the face of a reputation for killing products before users are ready to transition.