Google Maps could kill this handy navigation feature on Android soon

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

What you need to know

  • Version 14.52 of the Google app suggests significant changes in Google Maps, particularly the removal of the app's "Driving Mode" on Android by February 2024.
  • A string hints at Google steering users towards using Assistant for calling, messaging, or media playback during navigation.
  • While audio-only interactions are theoretically safer, there are concerns that this change marks a downgrade, especially for those averse to voice assistants.

Google Maps might be throwing "Driving Mode" out the window on its Android app, following last year's discontinuation of the "Assistant Driving Mode."

9to5Google did some snooping in version 14.52 of the Google app and found some code that spills the beans. In classic Google fashion, it looks like Google Maps' Driving Mode might be waving goodbye in February 2024, based on the strings uncovered.

A certain "view" mentioned in one of the strings is supposed to disappear next month. This view is a bit of a mystery for now, but it appears to be the main screen you see when using Driving Mode, which currently makes navigation a breeze and safer. 

It was meant to be the replacement for the Assistant Driving Mode, which lost its Dashboard view last year. That feature had a neat home screen with a map, media tips, audio controls, and even calling and texting features.

On the other hand, Driving Mode kicks into action only when you start navigating. It comes in the form of a sleek black bar at the bottom of your phone's screen. This nifty setup gives you quick access to Assistant and big, handy buttons for your music, podcasts, audiobooks, and other streaming apps.

This deprecation might force drivers to settle for the plain navigation mode activated by a simple "Hey Google, launch driving mode" command. Additionally, there's the revamped voice controls courtesy of Assistant. One of the strings notes that you'll be directed to the mic icon to summon Assistant for calls, messages, or media playback while driving.

Sure, going all-in on audio for safety sounds like a brilliant idea on paper, but others may view this as a step back in the functionality aspect. There's a whole squad out there that just dislikes the idea of chatting up a voice assistant.

Jay Bonggolto
News Writer & Reviewer

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.

  • Kai Archer
    So, the new Driving Mode jazzes up with navigation, but axing the solo mode might bug those who just want a quick "Hey Google, launch driving mode."