Google confirms it’s shutting down the “Android Auto for Phone Screens” app with Android 12. For years, Google has supported Android Auto directly on smartphones for those who don’t have compatible dashboards, giving drivers easy access to functions such as Google Maps while on the go. Instead, anyone who wants a driving-friendly interface for their Android phone should use the Google Assistant driving mode, which is available within Google Maps, or the native Android Auto interface available in select cars.
Google said in a statement stated that the company developed a driving mode for its Google Assistant which it calls the “next evolution of the mobile driving experience.” Google explains that “For those who use them on-phone experience (Android Automobile app), they will be transitioned to Google Assistant driving mode.” Google added “Starting with Android 12, Google Assistant driving mode will be the built-in mobile driving experience. We have no further details to share at this time.” Google mentioned that the experience wouldn’t be changing for anyone using Android Auto in compatible cars.
Google’s confirmation came after XDA Developers reported that some users were seeing a message in the Android Auto for Phone Screens app that said the service is “now only available for car screens” and pointed phone users towards Google Assistant driving mode as a replacement. Meanwhile, reports say that the Android Auto for Phone Screens app now says it’s incompatible with Pixel devices running Android 12. Google assures drivers that supported vehicles will still have access to the onboard Android Auto software.
Android Auto’s app history is a little bit messy, but this is a move that’s been a long time coming. The saga started back in 2019, when Google decided to build most of Android Auto’s features into Android 10 as a system-level feature, and discontinue the previously downloadable app. That’s fine for anyone with an Android Auto-compatible car, but anyone with an older vehicle would have lost access to the driving-friendly interface available directly on their phone. The company hasn’t shared any more details about the new feature just yet, but those who have yet to upgrade to the new Android version will still be able to run Android Auto, at least for the time being.
Google’s plan for these users was a new Google Assistant driving mode, but this software was delayed, and despite being announced in 2019, it only started rolling out late last year (it’s subsequently expanded internationally). That meant Google effectively needed a stopgap measure, and the clunkily named Android Auto for Phone Screens app was born. Find out more details of the rundown of the situation in 2019. Read more on Google Maps here