Google has been particularly slow with rolling out Assistant Driving Mode, which was announced at I/O 2019 but only made available in late 2020. Even then, it was limited to users in the US. But that's no longer the case as Google is now making the feature available for users in other countries too.
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.
You've always been able to run the Android Auto app on your phone to get a better/safer interface while driving, but Google doesn't widely advertise that functionality (the Auto app is mainly used for connecting to car entertainment systems), and it doesn't always work correctly. Google announced a replacement over a year ago at Google I/O, and it's finally showing up on phones.
The new Android Auto started rolling out today (and it's pretty good), but unfortunately, all of its various improvements are only coming to in-car displays. The version of Android Auto you can run on your phone's screen standalone won't be getting the same face lift — and as a matter of fact, it's eventually going away entirely (though we're not sure exactly when). Here's what's happening.