After announcing Google Assistant‘s Driving Mode back at Google I/O 2019, Google seems to finally be rolling out the feature on Android. The new feature is supposed to serve as a replacement for the Android Auto app on smartphones.
Two weeks ago, a few users started to see a new navigation UI in the Google Maps app. Last week, we discovered evidence that tied the rollout of this new navigation UI to Google Assistant’s Driving Mode. Today, I found that the new navigation UI has been enabled on several of my devices, including the Google Pixel 4, the LG Velvet, and the ASUS ZenFone 7 Pro. The navigation UI that I’m seeing is the same one that a handful of users saw a few weeks ago, and I’ve discovered a new settings page that further corroborates that this new navigation UI is indeed part of Google Assistant’s driving mode.
As you can see in the screenshots embedded below, the “Google Assistant settings” item in the “Navigation settings” of Google Maps has been updated with the description “manage driving mode.” Previously, the description for this item said “Google Assistant settings”, and tapping this item merely opened the general settings page for Google Assistant. Now, tapping this item opens up a new driving mode settings page for Google Assistant. Strangely, though, toggling “driving mode” on this page doesn’t actually disable the new navigation UI for me, and I’m also unable to activate Google Assistant’s Driving Mode through a voice command. It’s possible that the feature has only partially rolled out for me, though.
The Google Assistant Driving Mode UI that was shown off at Google I/O 2019 looks very different compared to what has been rolling out for some users these last few weeks. It’s possible that Google is still running A/B tests for the UI, but it’s also possible that Google significantly changed the interface since it’s been over a year from the announcement. Here’s a screenshot gallery showing off the new UI:
The rollout of Google Assistant Driving Mode on my devices doesn’t seem to be tied to any particular version of Google Maps and the Google App. My LG Velvet is running Google Maps version 10.52.3 and Google App version 22.214.171.124, my Pixel 4 is running Google Maps version 10.52.3 and Google App version 126.96.36.199, and my ZenFone 7 Pro is running Google Maps version 10.52.2 and Google App version 188.8.131.52. All of these devices are signed into my primary Google Account, though, so I’m likely one of the lucky few to have received this feature as part of a server-side test.
You can download the latest version of Google Maps and the Google App from the Play Store links embedded below, though there’s no guarantee you’ll get this feature by updating your apps. Since this feature has started to appear on some devices in the last few weeks, we’re probably not far off from an official announcement.