Google has scrapped its Android Auto app for phones and replaced it with an updated Google Assistant app with a sleek Driving Mode.
When in the car, users can say “Hey Google, let’s drive,” to launch the new mode. Then the phone shows a dashboard with large buttons for navigation, calls and music/media.
It makes suggestions and provides shortcuts to make it easier to navigate and perform other functions while driving.
Google announced the new Driving Mode feature of Google Assistant at its I/O Conference this week. It confirmed to 9to5Google that Driving Mode would replace the Android Auto phone app (but, Android Auto for car radios remains strong and has been improved).
Driving Mode will work with some cars to let users control functions like checking fuel levels, locking doors and adjusting the AC. Hyundai Blue Link and Mercedes Me Connect will support these features in coming months, said Engadget. The new app should be available later this year.
The news comes as Google Assistant itself is quickly catching up to Amazon Alexa in popularity. Strategy Analytics expects Google’s share in smart speakers to hit 31.4 percent compared to Amazon Alexa’s 31.7 percent.
In Driving Mode, Google Assistant automatically recognizes your calendar appointments or reservations and presents the opportunity to navigate to the appointment, when you enter the car.
It lets you ask to play music or answer phone calls while navigating. And it knows where you left off in a podcast or song.
Also at its Google I/O conference this week, Google announced that it is improving overall speech recognition in Google Assistant, so it can deliver answers to requests up to ten times faster. The new Google Assistant works basically in real time.
Previously Assistant had to sort through 100GB of data to understand a command. Now it will need only sift through a half a gigabyte, which can be stored directly on the device.
You will also be able to make several requests in a row without having to say “Hey Google” each time. The new Google Assistant will first be available on the Google Pixel phone later this year.