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Google Just Made Android Auto and Drive Mode a Lot Easier to Use

Android Auto headunit

Today Google announced multiple updates to make Android Auto and Driving Mode easier to use and less distracting. So whether you use the Google Assistant Driving Mode, have a car with Android Auto, or even a car with Google built-in, you’ll now enjoy an improved dashboard, more at-a-glance app recommendations, and improvements to contactless payments at gas stations.

Google Assistant Driving Mode Dashboard

If you don’t have a car with Android Auto, your phone has many of the same functions and features aimed at delivering a safe and easy driving experience. Just say, “Hey Google, let’s drive,” or open Drive Mode in Google Maps. From here, you’ll get the Android Auto-like experience on your phone. While this isn’t new, the mode is getting a new and improved dashboard that’ll help drivers keep their hands on the wheel.

Google Assistant Driving Mode

Google added cards that are easy to glance at, open with one tap, and there’s no more scrolling. Everything should be easier to see and find. Whether you want to start navigation routes, play music, or even see who called, it’s all right there. Plus, Google added a new auto-read function, where you could say, “Hey Google, turn on auto read,” and it’ll automatically read incoming messages aloud. Basically, Driving Mode is getting many of the great features from Android Auto.

Driving mode will be the primary experience for Android phones from now on. It will fully roll out in the next few weeks for Android phones in English (U.S., Australia, Canada, Ireland, India, Singapore and U.K.), German, Spanish (Spain, Mexico), French and Italian.

Update, 12/3/21: Drive Mode is now readily available from inside the Google app. Additionally, in December Google added a one-click Drive Mode home screen shortcut option, making it even faster and easier to access.

Set Which App Launches When You Open Android Auto

Android Auto is getting a bunch of new features, too, including the ability to set which app automatically opens when Android Auto starts. That way, you’re car can always be on Spotify, Youtube Music, or whatever you want.

Additionally, you’ll now see music, news and podcast recommendations from Google Assistant right on the Android Auto display, making it easier to interact with content without searching for it. Again, keeping your eyes on the road more.

Those with a dual-SIM phone can choose which SIM card Android Auto uses for voice-controlled phone calls, too, which is a nice change. Oh, and did you know you can pay for gas without getting out of your car? Completely contactless payments at gas stations is getting improved as well. Instead of opening the Google Pay app and searching for the gas station you’re at, use Google Assistant, which finds your location and does all the work for you without opening your phone.

Android Auto pay for gas

Honda Models Will Have Google Built-in

Then, continuing Google’s quest to take over your car experience, the company released a joint announcement with Honda, confirming that many models from Honda’s range will come with Google built-in starting in 2022.

In addition to Honda, the Google experience in cars will also be coming to vehicles from Ford, GM, Volvo, Polestar EVs, Renault, and more.

Google car EV charging

Google also plans to make it easier for electric vehicle owners to find, use, and charge their vehicles while they’re safely driving down the road. For example, if you drive an EV with Google built-in, you can say quick voice commands to find the nearest charging station. From there, the Google Asisstation will find a nearby station, tell you whether or not a charger is available that fits your specific vehicle, and even tell you what type of payment the charging station requires.

These are just a few of the many ways Google wants to be a great copilot in your vehicle.

Source: Google Blog

Cory Gunther Cory Gunther
Cory Gunther has been writing about phones, Android, cars, and technology in general for over a decade. He's a staff writer for Review Geek covering roundups, EVs, and news. He's previously written for GottaBeMobile, SlashGear, AndroidCentral, and InputMag, and he's written over 9,000 articles. Read Full Bio »