More than a year ago, Google announced that the Assistant Driving Mode was supposed to replace the Android Auto interface on phones. It looks like the company ran into significant problems with the software because it took it many months to make good on its promise. The new Driving Mode is only now starting to roll out to more people in the US as an early preview.
Google already has an in-car navigation UI in the form of Android Auto, as well as a future replacement in the form of the Assistant Driving Mode, but it seems to be implementing a very similar concept in Google Maps. We've seen music playback controls show up in Maps navigation before, but never the Android Auto-style buttons and home screen.
Even if we're not spending as much time as usual in our vehicles these days, it's still important to drive safely when interacting with technology. Google has been working on a car mode for the Assistant since last year, and Google Maps is rolling out a special UI for in-car use as well. Now Amazon is getting in on the fun with Alexa Auto Mode and a new routine for commuting.
Spotify is one of the most popular ways to stream music these days, and it isn't showing any signs of slowing down. From making podcasts a priority to adding standalone Chromecast support to the desktop app, the company continues to improve the audio experience. Now we're learning about a number of features that appear to be in the works, including karaoke capabilities and Group Sessions to make jamming out with friends easier.
The latest version of Google Voice is available and it's bringing both cosmetic changes and making preparations for new features. For those that use Voice with multiple accounts, the account switcher has been repositioned to a more convenient location. A teardown also shows upcoming support for vCard attachments and Android's Car Mode, which will make it easier for users to make calls with Google Voice while driving.