But starting this week, the new interface is live for Android Auto users in the United States, though it’s important to keep in mind this is still an early release that would need additional polishing before it goes live for everyone out there.
The new driving mode in Google Maps is heavily inspired by Android Auto for phones, so it provides one-tap access to essential features, such as phone calls, messages, music apps, and Google Assistant. The whole purpose of this driving mode is to keep the navigation at the core of everything, with Google trying to make sure that you’re never leaving Google Maps.
So when you receive a call, for example, you should see a popup showing up at the bottom of the screen, and if you answer, the UI is resized to display phone call controls, while the navigation UI moves to the upper part of the display.
“Use voice to send and receive calls and texts, quickly review new messages across your messaging apps in one place, and get a read-out of your texts so you don’t need to look down at your phone—Assistant will even alert you to an incoming call so you can answer or decline with voice. You can also play media from hundreds of providers around the globe, including YouTube Music, Spotify, Google Podcasts and many more. Driving mode makes all of this possible without ever leaving the navigation screen, so you can minimize distractions on the road,” Google explains.
Not everybody can use the new driving mode in Google Maps, though. The feature requires an Android device running at least Android 9, 4GB or more, and English configured as the main language.
To launch the feature, you need to open Assistant settings, tap Getting around > Driving mode, and switch the toggle to on.