Android Auto, Driving Mode: what it looks like

Google has finally started releasing Driving Mode on Maps apps, to replace the current Android Auto app for smartphones: here's what the new feature can do

After more than a year since the announcement, Google is finally releasing a long-awaited feature: Driving Mode within Goolgle Maps on Android smartphones. This feature replaces the current Android Auto smartphone app, integrating the digital assistant 100% into Android Auto.

Driving Mode, in essence, is meant to make it safer to use your Android smartphone in the car while driving. It's basically a new interface, which can be launched along with the navigation system. It can take advantage of Assistant's voice commands and allows us to access other apps quickly and without distraction. It performs on the smartphone, in practice, the same task of Android Auto on the infotainment systems of modern cars. Similar functionality had also been introduced by the Android Auto app for smartphones, but sending users into complete confusion: the app, in fact, was first released to the general public, then withdrawn, then returned, and now should be completely replaced by Driving Mode.

Driving Mode: to whom it has come

It's important to note that Driving Mode has been spotted, at the moment, only on the American Google Maps apps. However, these are official stable apps and not betas for testers. Moreover, the presence of Driving Mode does not depend on the app version.

This suggests that Google, on the server side, is gradually activating it to larger and larger groups of users. Italian apps, however, don't show this news at the moment, even though it could only be a matter of days, if not hours.

Driving Mode: how to check if it's active

The only way we know if we're lucky and our Maps app already has driving mode available is to look it up in the settings. After tapping on our profile picture, in the top right corner, we need to go to Settings > Navigator Settings > Google Assistant Settings.

Anchor before tapping on the latter tab, though, we can check if the description "Manage Driving Mode" appears. If the description is there, then the feature is there as well.

Driving Mode: what it's for

The way it was presented at Google I/O 2019, and we still don't know if that's exactly how it will be in the final version, Driving Mode is a great convenience.

Once activated, for example, it offers us personalized suggestions on which routes to choose, based on our calendar appointments, it shows us the places we've searched on Maps recently, it allows us to access messages and calls (even missed ones) without leaving the navigation app, and it also allows us to listen to music via the apps installed on the smartphone.

All this, in practice, Android Auto does it too only that Driving Mode can also be used on cars that aren't compatible with Android Auto.