If there's one feature that made automakers change the way they make infotainment systems in cars, it's the use of mobile apps – particularly Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Instead of relying on Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android mirror your smartphone's interface with the car's touchscreen. This allows users to use Spotify, YouTube Music, Waze, or even Google Maps without having to look at the phone itself.
It is such an important feature that some automakers make it a selling point for their vehicles. Meanwhile, some customers even consider it a must-have and expect it to come standard in vehicles today.
But despite its big selling point, it seems Google will stop offering Android Auto on most devices in the future. Does this mean Android Auto in smartphones and infotainment systems is going away soon?
Not exactly. Instead, Google will replace it with something else. It's called the Google Assistant Driving Mode service, and it's already available on certain devices running on the latest Android 12 Beta operating system (OS). But what makes it better than Android Auto?
Whereas the Android Auto works as a standalone phone app, Google Assistant Driving Mode is integrated with Google Maps. Not only does it make for a more streamlined experience, but it will also allow users to make use of voice commands. Users that wish to use the new service can say "Hey Google, launch Driving Mode" or "Let's Drive".
The new app works similarly to how Android Auto works on smartphones. When using the Google Maps navigation system, a Google Assistant bar is displayed at the bottom which can be used to make phone calls, send/read messages, and play music. But with voice commands, drivers no longer have to take their hands off the wheel.
With Google working on making its mobile apps more driver-friendly, it looks like Android Auto is heading to the app cemetery. But will it be easier to use compared to Android Auto that we've come to love? We'll let you know once our Android devices can support the new Google Assistant-based system.