What you need to know
- The new Google Assistant Driving Mode home screen UI is now showing up for some users.
- It was first unveiled during Google's I/O event in 2019 as a replacement for the Android Auto app on mobile.
- The new interface appears to be live on devices running both Android 11 and 12.
The new Google Assistant Driving Mode interface that Google debuted during its I/O event in 2019 is now showing up for some users. It is triggered when you say the wake words "Hey Google, launch Driving Mode" or "Let's drive." The refreshed UI is noticeably different from what was rolled out in the U.S. in 2020 and other territories earlier this year.
When the service is idle, it displays a search bar near the top of the screen that brings up suggested destinations and other location options when tapped. These include your recent destinations, a Google Maps shortcut, and voice entry.
Below that, you can see another card that displays media suggestions from YouTube Music, podcast services, and news streams that you can play with a single tap. Two voice command buttons sit further down the bottom for quick access to the message composer and phone dialer.
The Google Assistant icon is also found at the left bottom corner while the app drawer is located at the right side. If you're currently commuting, the home screen shows a map card with an ETA at the top.
Unlike its previous UI, the new home screen now lets you access the Assistant Driving Mode even without launching navigation in Maps. This option comes in handy if you would just like to listen to music or make a quick call.
You can try the new interface by installing the latest beta version of the Google app (version 12.35). The new home screen experience appears to be rolling out on devices running Android 12 in preparation for the upcoming shutdown of Android Auto for phone screens when the next-generation OS arrives next month.
That said, the UI has also been spotted on some of the best Android phones running Android 11.
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.
It's too bad there isn't a shortcut to Google Map's "driving mode" here, where you are in it's "follow mode" without a destination. It seems like Google is pushing people further away from this functionality even though I find it extremely convenient and helpful. The only way to trigger it now is through a shortcut to the app action. You can't even get to it in the Maps UI anymore. :(
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