Not everyone has a vehicle with Android Auto included, but Google's on-phone Auto UI has been a capable substitute. However, it looks like Google is getting ready to make Auto for phones obsolete with Assistant Driving Mode. It has many features from Auto, but it's less restrictive. It's coming to all Assistant-enabled phones this summer.
You'll be able to start Driving Mode by telling Assistant "Let's drive." Your phone will instantly switch over to a minimalist scrolling UI with useful links and actions. For example, you'll get traffic info at the top, followed by navigation, calls, and media. Like in Android Auto, appointments on your calendar spawn quick navigation links. You can, of course, talk to the Assistant whenever you need.
Driving Mode does all the same things as Auto on the phone, but it does so with a different UI that looks easier to use. For example, you can run navigation, but media gets a persistent playback bar below the map in Driving Mode. Auto on phones was always just a crunched down version of the car UI, but Driving Mode seems more suited to a smaller screen.
#HeyGoogle, let's drive: Coming this summer on @android phones, the Google Assistant’s new driving mode features a thoughtfully designed dashboard with personalized suggestions for navigation, messaging, calling and media. #io19 pic.twitter.com/epJoJdqhX5
— Google (@Google) May 7, 2019
Replacing Android Auto app mode
We have confirmation that Assistant's new Driving Mode will replace Android Auto's app mode in the coming months. This seems like a good time to make the switch. Android Auto in the car is getting a big overhaul soon, and now Google won't have to crunch it down to make it work on a phone screen. The Assistant Driving Mode seems better suited to a phone anyway.