Car video reviews:
Android Auto for Phones Is Dead, Long Live the Driving Mode
Not a long time ago, Google started warning users that Android Auto for phone screens would go away, essentially reminding them that the app would just stop working on their devices.

Android Auto for Phones Is Dead, Long Live the Driving Mode

Android Auto for phonesAndroid Auto for phonesAndroid Auto for phonesAndroid Auto for phonesAndroid Auto for phonesAndroid Auto interfaceAndroid Auto interfaceAndroid Auto interfaceAndroid Auto interfaceAndroid Auto interfaceAndroid Automotive in Polestar 2Driving mode dashboard viewDriving mode dashboard viewDriving mode dashboard viewDriving mode dashboard viewDriving mode dashboard view
In fact, Android Auto for phones has already been retired on the latest version of Android, so it was obviously just a matter of time until the app got the ax on older releases as well.

The whole thing happened this week, when Android Auto for phones stopped working completely, with the Play Store listing also removed, and users who launch the app are now redirected to the Android Auto settings page where they, well, can’t do much.

Google, however, tells users who were running Android Auto for phones to get a car-optimized experience on their mobile devices to just switch to the driving mode that’s bundled with Google Assistant. The driving mode was introduced last year specifically to play the role of an alternative to Android Auto for phones, but so far, the feedback has been discouraging, to say the least.

If you’ve been using the Android Auto app on your phone screen, you’ll need to switch to Google Assistant’s driving mode, a new integrated driving experience. If your car is compatible with Android Auto, you can still connect directly to your car’s display,” Google says.

But given Android Auto for phones is dead and the driving mode isn’t yet the fully-featured replacement that Google wanted it to be, it’s pretty clear that many users are left without a solid option on this front.

So right now, the only thing Google can do is mostly to improve the driving mode at a super-fast pace.

The Google Assistant-powered driving mode is built with Google Maps in mind, and while the essential feature package is still there, so you can easily make calls and send and receive messages, the lack of support for other navigation apps is a major drawback. This is a surprising limitation, that’s for sure, especially as Waze, which is another Google-owned navigation app, is one of the most popular choices on Android in the first place.

In other words, Waze would pretty much be the top alternative to Google Maps anyway, so the driving mode being limited to just one app doesn’t make much sense.

The app is glitchy, to say the least, not to mention that it’s not even available on all devices and in all regions. According to Google itself, the driving mode is only available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It requires at least Android 9 and can only run on devices with 4GB of RAM and more. Needless to say, it integrates support for voice commands as well, obviously powered by Google Assistant, but you can only make and answer calls, send and read messages, and listen to music. For navigation, the typical Google Maps commands can be used to interact with the app and set up a new destination.

A quick search on Google for driving mode reviews leads to all kinds of complaints the search giant needs to address, and given Android Auto for phones is already a thing of the past, the clock is kind of ticking for the company this time.

It’ll certainly be interesting to see how the community reacts to the demise of Android Auto for phones, especially because some are left with no alternative to the app they’ve been using for years in their cars. Sure, they can always use the core Android experience and run the apps on their smartphones, but without a driving-optimized interface, it all feels like a downgrade that obviously shouldn’t happen on such a popular mobile platform.


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories