How to Use Google’s New Driving Mode Replacing Android Auto for Phones

This is what an incoming call looks like on the driving mode 17 photos
Photo: Google
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Google is making some pretty big changes on the Android Auto front, and this time, it all comes down to the mobile version of the app that allows you to get the car-optimized experience on a smartphone.
The Mountain View-based search giant is killing off this application, but this doesn’t necessarily mean users are being left without a driving mode on their phones.

Nope, not at all, as Google actually has even more ambitious plans in the long term.

So what the company is doing is replace Android Auto for phones with an all-new driving mode, originally bundled with Google Maps and powered by Google Assistant.

If you’ve used Android Auto for phones before, you’ll certainly feel at home when launching the new driving mode. This is because its interface is very similar to the app getting the ax, and at the end of the day, this is quite a good thing, as it makes the transition to the new mode more straightforward for everybody.

But on the other hand, there are several things that you need to know about the driving mode, and among them, there’s the support for voice commands allowing you to interact with the app hands-free while driving.

Android Auto for phones
Photo: Google

How to launch the driving mode

Given the new driving mode is fully powered by Google Assistant, it’s pretty clear Google is betting big on voice commands this timeUnsurprisingly though, you can simply launch the car-optimized experience by just speaking to your digital assistant.

Simply sa,y “Hey, Google, let’s drive,” and Google Assistant should then automatically launch the driving mode on your mobile device.

More recently, it was discovered that Google was working on several alternatives to this method, including support for an automatic launch powered by the Bluetooth connection.

In other words, the driving mode could just launch when your phone connects via Bluetooth to the speakers in your car, so it knows you’re about to leave on a new ride.

Driving mode dashboard view
Photo: Google

The essential voice commands

As said, the driving mode was originally developed with Google Maps in mind, so it’s extremely easy to configure the app to provide guidance to a new destination. Just say, “Hey, Google, navigate to [destination],” and you should see Google Maps launching and providing a route to a defined destination.

But the driving mode is not about navigation, and since it’s supposed to replace Android Auto for phones, it does pretty much the same things, all powered by voice commands.

If you want to listen to some music, it’s enough to tell Google assistant to “Hey, Google, play [artist],” and you should see your favorite audio app launching and starting to play the tunes. As an alternative, you can also name the app you want to use directly with a command like “Hey, Google, play Coldplay on Spotify.

Phone calls and messages are an essential part of the driving mode, and interacting with them hands-free is critical for drivers out there.

Driving mode dashboard view
Photo: Google
To make a phone call, the only thing you need to say is “Hey, Google, call [contact name].” When someone calls you, Google Assistant should automatically step in, pause your music, and tell you there’s a new “call from [contact name]” and ask if you want to answer. Just say “yes,” and you’re good to go.

If you want to send a new message to someone, you can use this command: “Hey, Google, send a message to [contact name].” Google Assistant should then look for the contact and ask you to dictate the message you want to send.

Overall, the experience is as straightforward as possible, and there’s no doubt Google will further polish it in the coming updates, especially as the driving mode reaches the general availability, possibly later this year.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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