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Google appears to pull the plug on Android Auto for phone screens

Android Auto phone docked
(Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Android Auto seems to be exclusive to car screens only.
  • Google discontinued the support for Android 12 and above users last year.
  • Early this week, Android 11 users started seeing the "Android Auto is now only available for car screens" alert on their app.
  • The move favors using the Google Assistant Driving mode feature on Android smartphones.

Android Auto has apparently pulled the plug for phone screens. Google previously stopped supporting Android Auto for select Android smartphones, and while the company confirmed that it would eventually stop supporting phone screens last year, it didn't specify a timeline for when that would happen. It appears the time is now.

The reason for discarding the Android Auto for phone screens is to allow users to utilize the Google Assistant Drive mode feature. It's a feature that relies on Google Assistant and runs devices running Android 9 or higher, allowing you to complete actions using voice commands that let you send/read messages, make calls, and control media.

Ever since the first launch of the Android Auto in 2015, Android Auto has supported more than 150 million cars and partnered with nearly every brand. It was available for both car displays and phone screens and will continue to be available for car screens going forward.

The main functions of Android Auto in cars usually comprise navigation, communication, and media playback. These features were present in compatible cars alongside the phone screens of the best Android phones.

The latter is now being ditched by the company, a move that was seemingly inevitable. For some time, several users have noticed a message advising that "Android Auto for phone screens will stop working soon." 9to5Google notes that starting early this week, Android 11 users have started noticing a different message, informing them that "Android Auto is now only available for car screens."

Android Auto Phone Screen Alert

(Image credit: 9to5Google)

Alas, the Android Auto for phone screens bids a goodbye. However, Google Assistant Driving mode is relatively a decent alternative if you're still into using Android Auto on Android phones.

The new drive mode works only in portrait mode, and the region availability is pretty limited for now. The driving mode can be enabled from any screen, or users can access it when navigating in Google Maps app. Once connected, users would receive a notification pointing users to tap to launch the driving mode alert. Users can navigate or make calls through familiar Google Assistant voice commands as suggested.

Additionally, the car-exclusive Android Auto has some new features, as Google announced last month. The company has introduced a brand-new look and adaptable UI, with support for split-screen mode in all car screen sizes and types, like widescreen or portrait.

The split-screen mode here lets you scroll less in the list of apps and makes it convenient while driving. Likewise, the navigation and media playback will always be on irrespective of users getting a text or a call amidst driving. Moreover, cars are coming with Google built-in that allows users to stream content. 

Vishnu works as a freelance News Writer for Android Central. For the past four years, he's been writing about consumer technology, primarily involving smartphones, laptops, and every other gizmo connected to the Internet. When he is away from keyboard, you can see him going on a long drive or chilling on a couch binge-watching some crime series.