In theory, Android Auto for phones was the perfect way to convert a mobile device into an ad-hoc head unit, as it provided users with a car-optimized experience similar to that available in the full version of Android Auto.
Google, however, has decided to ditch Android Auto for phones and replace it with a brand new driving mode that comes with Google Maps and powered by Google Assistant.
On some level this all makes sense, although for some users this change of plan only creates more confusion, especially because the Riding Mode is clearly based on Android Auto for phones in all respects.
But with the Drive Mode, Google can deliver a next-gen experience suitable for the modern driver as a native feature without the need for any further setup or downloads. By bundling the driving mode with Google Maps and Google Assistant, the only thing users need to do is just say “Hey, Google, let’s drive“with the application and then launch automatically on their mobile devices.
The migration from Android Auto for phones to the new driving mode will take place with the release of Android 12, and Google itself has confirmed that the launch of this feature will take place. “in the next weeks.“
Not everyone will get the new Riding Mode, however, as it will only be available in a handful of languages and countries.
First, there is the obvious English support, with the driving mode to live in the US, Australia, Canada, Ireland, India, Singapore and UK. Next, Google says it will support driving mode in German, Spanish for users in Spain and Mexico, French and Italian.
No other language would be supported, or at least not initially, although Google has said nothing about a possible extension to other countries at a later date.
In other words, if you plan to use the driving mode in a different language or country than the ones mentioned above, you are out of luck. And this is where the confusion escalates.
Will Android Auto for phones still be available in these countries? This is highly unlikely, so in theory it seems that users who want to use the Drive Mode in another region should just stick with English (or any other supported language mentioned above. ) and therefore get this feature on their devices. Otherwise, the driving mode will not be supported.
It’s not necessarily the most convenient solution if you want a native, localized experience, but on the other hand, it’s no different than what has been happening in the Android Auto world until recently.
The full version of Android Auto was only offered in a handful of countries initially, and users elsewhere have turned to the standalone APK installer to get the app on their devices, by the way. ‘obviously using in English. Google eventually changed its mind and officially launched Android Auto in many other parts of the world. So hopefully the same will happen with the drive mode as well.
For now, the Riding Mode is still previewed in many of the countries mentioned above, so you can try it out on your device before the official launch.
Google recently announced that the Riding Mode is getting actionable maps for easier navigation, and without a doubt, more and more features will be added later after the official launch for users in supported countries.