During its I/O 2019 event last year, Google introduced a new Google Assistant feature called Driving Mode, which, as its name suggests, is a special interface specifically designed for users who are driving. Whereas Android Auto is dependent on your car’s infotainment center, Google Assistant Driving Mode is a new interface that you can run on your phone, enabling you to mount the handset on your car’s dash and use it in place of an infotainment system.
It has been more than a year since Google introduced Driving Mode, leaving users to speculate when it would finally arrive. It seems that time is now…sort of.
Some Android users have reported seeing the new Driving Mode feature arrive in Google Assistant, with XDA reporting that this apparent rollout has been taking place over the past couple of weeks.
I haven’t yet received the feature on my Note 10+, but users report having access to the new Google Assistant Driving Mode on a variety of devices, including the Pixel 4 handsets. The feature can be found within the ‘Settings’ > ‘Navigation Settings’ > ‘Google Assistant’ > ‘Driving Mode’ feature in Google Maps — if you don’t see the Driving Mode option, that means you don’t yet have access to the feature.
Whereas those who do not yet have access to Driving Mode are redirected to the same Google Assistant menu you’d see in the Google app, those who have access to the new Driving Mode report seeing a dedicated menu within Maps that provides access to the UI and its various features.
Screenshots of the new UI reveal an interface that differs from the concept Google showed off last year; the interface is still simplified for drivers, but with everything rearranged. Maps appears in the upper portion of the app for navigation, while the button section is reserved for things like call notifications, music playback controls, and recording voice memos.
It’s unclear how broadly Google is rolling out Driving Mode and whether this is the final version of the UI or simply a test indicating things to come.