Android Auto goodbye: what Google wants to do

The world of Android Auto is complex and fragmented, but Google has decided to put things in order and look to the future in a new way. Here's how.

One of the biggest wishes of millions of smartphone owners around the world is to be able to use some of the phone's apps in the car as well, such as the Google Maps navigation system, instead of the eventual built-in navigation system in the car's infotainment system. Or use infotainment to answer calls received on the phone, or to read SMS and chat messages.

To meet these needs Google announced Android Auto in 2014, in response to Apple CarPlay announced a few months earlier. From 2015 onwards, more and more cars are compatible with this standard, but not without problems: the fragmentation of smartphone manufacturers typical of the Android world, on the other hand, is also added to the fragmentation of car manufacturers making the dialogue between phone and car anything but simple. That's why, in late 2016, Google launched "Android Auto for phones", an Android app to download to your smartphone that mimics, on the phone screen, the Android Auto interface: large icons, quick access to the voice assistant, easy access to Google Maps and the phone. The idea was good, but everything didn't go as planned and soon Android Auto for phones will disappear.

Android Auto for phones: the news

One of the first things users who installed the beta of Android 12, Google's new operating system, noticed was that the Android Auto app for phones can no longer be downloaded from the Play Store, because it is incompatible.

Initially it was thought that this was due to the beta version of the operating system, but apparently this is not the case: reports are coming in from users who have previous versions of Android as well.

Some users who had already downloaded the app previously, however, are now seeing a new screen that warns them that Android Auto is now only available on the screens of car infotainment systems.

In short, it would really seem that Android Auto for phones has come to the end of the line, partly because there's already a replacement: Google Assistant Driving Mode.

Google Assistant, the "Driving Mode"

In October 2020, Google released for everyone a feature it had been experimenting with for some time: the Driving Mode of Google Assistant on Google Maps.

Thanks to Driving Mode, it's now possible to use Maps' sat-nav on your phone with a new interface, which partially mimics that of Android auto for phones.

A duplicate, essentially, showing that Android Auto for phones was actually a stopgap solution.