You might have read recently that Google is turning Assistant Driving Mode into its primary driving experience on smartphones, with a version of Android Auto going by the wayside. Let’s take a minute to clear things up – Android Auto is not going away.
Android Auto is not going away anytime soon
Since we first reported on Google’s decision to axe Android Auto for Phone Screens, we’ve heard confusion from a few people that think the platform itself is going away entirely. Thankfully, that is not the case.
There are two versions of Auto currently available. The standard version of Android Auto is the one you use in your car on the car’s built-in display or third-party head unit. It’s powered by your phone, either through a cable or using a wireless signal, but everything actually shows up in the car.
The other version is specifically called “Android Auto for Phone Screens.” The experience has technically been available for several years, but only separated from the standard Android Auto app in 2019 alongside the platform’s redesign. That’s because Assistant Driving Mode was delayed heavily, forcing Google to provide the “Phone Screens” app as a stopgap measure to prevent users from being left without any way to use maps and media on their phones at once in a driving-friendly UI.
Admittedly, it’s all a bit confusing, but the bottom line is that Android Auto isn’t going away entirely.
Assistant Driving Mode is only taking over for one experience
Google Assistant Driving Mode is only taking the place of Android Auto for Phone Screens, not the Android Auto you use in your car.
A good rule of thumb: if Android Auto is displayed on your car’s screen, it’s not going away.
Technically, Assistant Driving Mode was supposed to take the place of Auto for Phone Screens back in 2019, but the experience saw several major delays that didn’t let it see a wide rollout until 2021. That same year, it took over on devices running Android 12 and up. Now, Google is preparing to kill off Android Auto for Phone Screens for good by removing it from older Android versions. But again, this in no way touches the version of Android Auto that you use on a car’s display.
The future is bright
If it’s not already abundantly clear that Android Auto isn’t going away, what should be even more convincing is that Google has more in store for the platform going forward.
At Google I/O 2022, the company unveiled a new look for the platform that better takes advantage of wider and taller displays, as well as offering up additional functionality, including some amount of multitasking to displays of all sizes. It looks great, and you can see it in action below.
Beyond that, and perhaps a bigger deal in the long run, is Android Automotive. Built out of the experience that many already know today, this new platform runs natively on cars instead of being powered by your phone. The experience can be tailored to fit each carmaker’s own vision, but under the hood it’s Android all the way through. Android Automotive is available right now on vehicles from Polestar and Volvo, but will be coming to Ford, Honda, and vehicles from more carmakers in the future.
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