Android users will have a new way to interact with their built-in Google Assistant in the near future. Google announced at its developer's conference Tuesday a new Driving Mode for the assistant.
The Driving Mode turns the Google Assistant into an extension of an infotainment system for any Android smartphone. The Driving Mode also focuses on accomplishing tasks with just the driver's voice so they can keep their attention on the road ahead. Upon pairing the smartphone with a car's Bluetooth connection, Driving Mode will open automatically and provide information for the trip ahead. For example, Driving Mode will suggest events or reservations. Drivers can then begin a navigation route to the destination from Driving Mode without fumbling around with their phones.
The most relevant functions are front and center on the screen, such as navigation, media, messages, and phone. The media function ensures a song, podcast, or whatever the driver was listening to before jumping in the car picks up exactly where it left off. Meanwhile, if a phone call comes through, Driving Mode will alert the driver and he or she can respond with their voice if they'd like to accept or decline the call.
The function should be appreciated by users without a fancy in-car infotainment system, or for drivers of older vehicles. If a Bluetooth connection isn't available in the car, drivers can also say, "Hey Google, let's drive" to open Driving Mode.
Not only will Google Assistant get smarter in the car, it also will grow more intelligent in other ways. Google announced its assistant will be able to control certain vehicle functions outside of the car. Launching in Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai models to start, Google Assistant can control the cabin's temperature before hopping in for a drive, for example. The technology company didn't provide any other functions, but its launch is still a few months out.
As for the new Driving Mode, it will launch this summer. Android users will also be able to take advantage of a redesigned Android Auto interface, too.