At I/O 2019, Assistant Driving Mode was introduced to take the place of Android Auto on mobile devices. It was planned to debut that summer, but it was postponed. It now occurs with Android 12. Prior to that, the homescreen UI that was first introduced more than two years ago is now visible in Assistant Driving Mode.
Google Maps’ Assistant Driving Mode debuted for US users back in November. The experience was later limited to the present navigation mode with a huge, touch-friendly call notification and media app launcher, and later saw an international expansion.
As of right now, Hey Google, launch Driving Mode and other variations (Lets drive) will activate an Assistant homescreen that wasn’t before accessible. I’m not driving to the exit, and the fake map cover image at the top of the screen has the Assistant logo in the corner. You receive a map card with an ETA if you have recently or are currently traveling. Other options include a search bar, a shortcut to Google Maps, and voice entry. The search bar also exposes a page with recent destinations.
Next is For you media suggestions, which includes news, podcasts, and YouTube music, and has a tap button to activate media controls next to it. You can also choose between repeat and shuffle depending on whether the aforementioned map is visible. Voice command shortcuts for calling and sending messages are located at the bottom. As before, a toolbar at the bottom of the screen houses the Assistant input and the app launcher, and it also allows you to easily return to navigation.
You can tell that the Google app is fully responsible for this Assistant Driving Mode homescreen by accessing Recents multitasking. Despite the fact that you’ll spend the most of your time in Google Maps, the homescreen is great if you only require media and voice for a local journey and don’t need navigation.
It appears to be less similar to Assistant Snapshot than the version that was first announced on stage. It’s actually a good thing that it’s no longer a feed because scrolling while driving might not be the safest interface.
With the most recent Google app beta (version 12.35), we can see this new UI in action on Android 12, but not on Android 11 or prior. This makes sense given that Android Auto for Phone Screens will be discontinued in the next OS update.
Update: There have been rumors of Android 11’s homescreen appearing live.