It’s arriving this summer.
If your car doesn’t support Android Auto, you won’t be completely out of luck when it comes to safely accessing your contacts, messages, and navigation app of choice moving forward—At their annual I/O conference for 2019, Google announced an upcoming “driving mode” feature for Android smartphones.
Driving mode will be completely hands-free, and it’s enabled by saying “Hey Google, let’s drive”. Once the feature has been switched on, your phone’s interface will change to something that’s much more suited for driving. For example, you’ll get traffic info at the top, then you’ll see three large buttons at the top — Navigate, Make a call, and Play (for music) — as well as large banners in the “Just for you” section that give you information on recently-missed calls, shortcuts to the restaurant you have a reservation for, and more. Like in Android Auto, appointments on your calendar spawn quick navigation links. You can, of course, talk to the Assistant whenever you need.
It is also tailored to users, with dinner reservations from your calendar featuring directions to the restaurant. Podcasts at home will automatically resume in the car. Though you’ll usually be using Google Assistant and your voice to access all of these options hands-free (by speaking the relevant commands), the driving mode interface is streamlined enough that you could easily tap on various icons to access their functions. Though this still poses a risk of crashing due to distractions, it’s certainly much safer and quicker than swiping through various menus to access your phone or navigation apps.
The second driving-related announcement is that Google Assistant will be coming to the Waze navigation app. “Soon you’ll be able to access all the helpfulness of your Assistant and use your favorite Waze features, like reporting crashes or stopped vehicles, hands free,” the company noted on Twitter.
These announcement on Google Assistant, which brings driving mode via their mobile phones to cars will help bring infotainment-style features to users who doesn’t have touch screens in their cars. Android Auto is already available on some 500 newer models from around 50 car brands. Google is about to roll out the first dedicated Android OS in a car in partnership with Volvo. And there are plenty of aftermarket solutions, too.
However, the driving mode in Google Assistant is set to launch this summer for Android phones.