This story was originally published and last updated .
A few years ago, Google announced a whole new experience for drivers who want to use their phones hands-free without endangering others. It was called “Assistant Driving Mode” intended to replace the dated Android screen of Android Autos – until suddenly it was not. Instead, Google developed a shortcut to Android 10 devices, designed to keep the old Auto interface alive and well while work continued on Assistant Driving Mode. With the newer app slowly arriving in various regions worldwide, the old user interface is on its way out.
Some users open the dedicated Auto Auto app for phone screens today only to find that it no longer works. As XDA developers discovered, some Pixel devices running Android 12 beta are getting pop-up notifications redirecting users to try Assistant Driving Mode. In particular, the warning notes that Android Auto is no longer supported on phone screens, which now requires a dedicated car screen for use.
Image via XDA developers.
Now, it’s worth noting that only one of XDA’s devices on hand actually showed this message. AP personnel attempted multiple devices but could not repeat the same warning. We’re talking about Google, so it’s probably a server – side switch that has not yet affected most users.
While this banner could simply be a strange behavior triggered by the Android 12 beta, it has honestly been written on the wall for years. While the dedicated car user interface has been updated and updated, Auto’s design on the phone’s screens has remained unchanged. The shortcut Google developed back in 2019 never received an update, which could be another sign, it was always meant as a stop-gap solution.
Left: Android Auto. Right: Assistant Driving Mode.
Assistant Driving Mode feels like a much more modern experience – including support for higher screens – but that’s not all good news. To enable Driving Mode, start by entering a destination in Google Maps – something that is not always necessary if you are heading to a known location. Once you’ve started navigating, you can switch between calls, notifications, media apps, and even completely cancel your route, but it’s still an extra step not required in Android Auto.
You will probably be able to continue using Android Auto in areas where Assistant Driving Mode is not available. We have seen the feature arrive in several countries over the last year, although it is still not available everywhere. For now, you can enjoy Android Auto while you still can – it might not be much longer.
Confirmation from Google
In a statement delivered to 9to5Google, Google has confirmed that Android Auto for phone screens will disappear with the launch of Android 12 this fall. Here is the full statement:
The driving feature of Google Assistant is our next development of the mobile driving experience. For those people who use Android Auto in supported vehicles, that experience does not disappear. For those who use the phone experience (Android Auto mobile app), they will be transferred to the driving feature of Google Assistant. Starting with Android 12, the driving feature of Google Assistant is the built-in mobile experience. We have no further details to share at this time.
If your current phone does not get an upgrade to Android 12, you can continue to use the mobile experience until you exchange devices. For everyone else, switch to Assistant Driving Mode for your navigation needs. This transition explains why only users running the Android 12 beta saw the banner message in the app.
As we highlighted yesterday, there are some real concerns about the current state of Assistant Driving Mode. Some of our readers brought up additional points in the comments, including lack of landscape support, issues with certain Android Auto apps that did not play well with Assistant, and inaccessibility, even in regions where the feature was supposed to be live. Hopefully some of these issues will be eradicated over the next few months. Until then, you can enjoy the remaining days with Android Auto on the phone screens as it does not have much time left in this world.
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