A couple of years ago, Google announced an all-new experience for drivers seeking to use their phones hands-free without endangering others. Dubbed "Assistant Driving Mode," it was intended to replace Android Auto's dated display — until suddenly, it wasn't. Instead, Google developed a shortcut for Android 10 devices, designed to keep the old Auto interface alive and well while work continued on Assistant Driving Mode. With the newer app slowly arriving throughout various regions worldwide, the old UI is on its way out.

Some users are opening the dedicated Android Auto for phone screens app today only to find it no longer functions. As XDA Developers discovered, some Pixel devices running the Android 12 beta are getting pop-up notifications redirecting users to try out Assistant Driving Mode. Specifically, the warning notes that Android Auto is no longer supported on phone displays, now requiring a dedicated car screen to use.

Image via XDA Developers.

Now, it's worth noting that only one of XDA's devices on hand actually displayed this notification. The AP staff tried several devices but failed to replicate the same warning. This is Google we're talking about, so it's likely a server-side switch that hasn't hit most users just yet.

While this banner could simply be some odd behavior triggered by the Android 12 beta, frankly, the writing's been on the wall for years. While the dedicated car UI has been refreshed and updated, Auto's design on phone screens has stayed unchanged. The shortcut Google developed back in 2019 never even received an update, which could be another sign it was always meant as a stop-gap solution.

Left: Android Auto. Right: Assistant Driving Mode.

Assistant Driving Mode feels like a much more modern experience — including support for taller displays — but it's not all good news. To activate Driving Mode, you'll need to start by entering a destination into Google Maps — something that isn't always necessary if you're headed to a known location. Once you've started navigation, you can swap between calls, messages, media apps, and even cancel your route altogether, but it's still an additional step that isn't required in Android Auto.

Presumably, you'll be able to continue using Android Auto in regions where Assistant Driving Mode isn't available. We've seen the feature arrive in several countries over the past year, although it's still not accessible everywhere. For now, enjoy Android Auto while you still can — it might not be around much longer.

Confirmation from Google

In a statement delivered to 9to5Google, Google has confirmed that Android Auto for phone screens is going away with the launch of Android 12 this fall. Here's the full statement:

Google Assistant driving mode is our next evolution of the mobile driving experience. For the people who use Android Auto in supported vehicles, that experience isn’t going away. For those who use the on phone experience (Android Auto mobile app), they will be transitioned to Google Assistant driving mode. Starting with Android 12, Google Assistant driving mode will be the built-in mobile driving experience. We have no further details to share at this time.

If your current phone isn't getting an upgrade to Android 12, you can continue using the mobile experience until you exchange devices. For everyone else, you'll have to switch over to Assistant Driving Mode for your navigation needs. This transition explains why only users running the Android 12 beta saw the banner notification in the app.

As we highlighted yesterday, there are some real concerns about the current state of Assistant Driving Mode. Some of our readers brought up additional points in the comments, including missing landscape support, issues with certain Android Auto apps not playing well with Assistant, and inaccessibility even in regions where the feature should be live. Hopefully, some of these issues are ironed out over the next few months. Until then, enjoy the remaining days of Android Auto on phone screens, as it doesn't have much time left in this world.