Google says it isn't killing Assistant Driving Mode; it's just losing the best feature

Google Maps driving mode black bar
(Image credit: Jay Bonggolto / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google says that Assistant Driving Mode isn't going anywhere, but a major change is coming.
  • Assistant Driving Mode now sports a banner that says its main view, a grid of touch-friendly apps, is going away this month.
  • While the name remains, Assistant Driving Mode is all but dead. The move comes after Google previously canned Android Auto for Phone Screens and Assistant Driving Mode Dashboard.

Android Auto is a great way to control music, maps, and more while driving — if you have a car that supports it. For everyone else, Assistant Driving Mode is a neat way to utilize touch-friendly controls on your Android phone while driving. But sometime this month, contrary to what Google says, Assistant Driving Mode is effectively dying, but not completely.

In January, Google announced that it would be removing 17 "underutilized" features in Google Assistant. One of them appeared to be Assistant Driving Mode: "Using app launcher in Google Assistant driving mode on Google Maps to read and send messages, make calls, and control media," the company said. "You can still use voice control on Google Maps the same way."

Since the app launcher is considered to be one of the biggest Assistant Driving Mode features, many assumed the entire experience was being removed altogether. The suspicions were somewhat confirmed this week when Android Police noticed a banner in the app launcher on Assistant Driving Mode. The banner told users to expect the view to be removed sometime this month.

However, Google told 9to5Google that it isn't actually removing Assistant Driving Mode when the February 7 change takes effect. The black bar at the bottom of Assistant Driving Mode will remain, and users can still use their voice to control Assistant.

Despite the company's official comments, it's clear that Assistant Driving Mode — as users knew it — is coming to an end. Arguably, the mode's best functionality was the app launcher, which featured large icons that were easy to touch while driving. This is the feature that is going away, and the new version of Assistant Driving Mode coming this month will contain a fraction of the original functionality.

Google has continuously removed or altered driving mode features over the past few years, especially as it focuses on Android Auto and Android Automotive. The original iteration, called Android Auto for Phone Screens, was killed in 2021. The Assistant Driving Mode Dashboard was axed in 2022.

So, by the end of this month, all that will be left of Assistant Driving Mode is the media playback bar and the voice control button. If you have a car that supports Android Auto, you might not even notice the change. However, drivers with older cars might be frustrated to find that the best way to launch apps while driving is disappearing. 

Brady Snyder

Brady is a tech journalist covering news at Android Central. He has spent the last two years reporting and commenting on all things related to consumer technology for various publications. Brady graduated from St. John's University in 2023 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. When he isn't experimenting with the latest tech, you can find Brady running or watching sports.

  • gomezz
    Sounds like a good idea to me. Drivers should not be fiddling with a touch screen.
  • Stanley Kubrick
    gomezz said:
    Sounds like a good idea to me. Drivers should not be fiddling with a touch screen.
    Agree...but are they not still fiddling with a touch screen with Android Auto?
  • gomezz
    Which is why I support locking touch screens when a car is in motion - in gear or not parked.