Reports have been coming out this week that Google is still beta testing the new Assistant-based ‘Driving Mode’ complete with images of the feature in action, and it doesn’t look like much so far.
When Google first showed off Assistant Driving Mode in the spring of 2019, it was a clean-looking replacement to the phone screen version of Android Auto. Now the feature is rolling out in an ‘Early Preview’ in the U.S., providing us with a clearer look at the software.
For instance, this preview isn’t even part of the Google Assitant app, and is instead buried inside Google Maps. That being said, it still appears to offer a lot of the same features as before.
MobileSyrup is unable to test out the feature since it’s only rolling out to people in the U.S., but 9to5Google says that it functions much like Android Auto with a grid of apps and quick buttons to trigger Google Assistant to make a call or send a text.
Preview Google Assistant driving mode in Maps on your #Android phone, rolling out now in the U.S. Easily access what you need for your drive and quickly get things done all while keeping your focus on the road. Learn more: https://t.co/5wEvwlaJrj pic.twitter.com/ACZia4MSKO
— Android (@Android) January 11, 2021
A tweet from the Android account also shows off how the app displays text messages and calls. This looks similar to what happens on Android Auto, but Google also chimes in to tell you who’s calling or what your text message says.
When I take a step back, I can see why Google wanted to embed this feature in Google Maps since that’s such a useful tool for getting around, but the original Driving Mode that was shown off features a very cool design that I thought was going to be a bigger deal for Google.
Hopefully, when the feature launches, it will look more like the original vision. We can also hope that it’s going to launch soon now that people are testing it. However, Google announced that Driving Mode was coming out in the summer of 2019, and we still haven’t really seen it, suggesting that the company is really taking its time with this rollout.
You can learn how to set up the Driving Mode preview on Google’s support site, but even changing my Assistant language to U.S. English didn’t help, so your mileage may vary.