Back at I/O 2019, Google announced that the on-phone experience of Android Auto was on the way out, set to be replaced with a new “Google Assistant Driving Mode” experience. As of the most recent beta update to the Google app, we’ve finally been able to enable Assistant Driving Mode and get a preview of how it will look and work.

For years, the Android Auto app offered an experience on your phone almost identical to what would get projected onto your car’s infotainment display. Last year, Google announced that Android Auto would no longer be used in this way, instead serving solely as the gateway to projecting apps and media onto the car screen wirelessly or via USB.

To that end, Google later launched a dedicated “Android Auto for phone screens” app to act as a “stopgap” between the change to the original Android Auto app and the launch of the new Google Assistant Driving Mode. As these things sometimes happen, over a year later we still haven’t seen Assistant Driving Mode arrive on devices.

However, as of the latest version of the Google app beta — version 11.31 — our APK Insight team has finally been able to enable the onboarding experience of Assistant Driving Mode. Check it out!

Interestingly, the onboarding UI is dark regardless of our device’s dark theme settings. From the introductory screens, we see that the Assistant will be able to make and answer calls, as well as read your incoming messages aloud, while “other notifications stay muted.”

On the first screen, we see that Google Maps navigation will be deeply integrated into Assistant Driving Mode. The example screenshot looks incredibly similar to a new navigation layout for Google Maps, spotted by Android Police last month, complete with the same four-square icon in the bottom right corner. This suggests that Google Assistant Driving Mode has gotten a major redesign since we last saw it, which could explain the delayed launch.

Meanwhile, in the third screen, we find quick controls for the other important parts of the driving experience, media controls, phone calls, text messages — please don’t text and drive! — and a settings menu.

Unfortunately, for now, the “Try it out” button causes the onboarding to close with no visible changes. Our team is continuing to look into how to fully enable Google Assistant Driving Mode to get hands-on with the new experience.

In the meantime, what do you think of this new redesign? Do you have the new Google Maps navigation design on your phone? Let us know in the comments.

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About the Author

Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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