Google is making it easier to launch Assistant Driving Mode. You can now add a homescreen shortcut for the Android Auto replacement to quickly access it when you’re going for a drive.
Assistant Driving Mode originally required you to use a voice command such as “Hey Google, let’s drive” and “start Driving Mode” to launch the car-friendly UI. In October, Google added the ability to automatically activate Driving Mode when you connect your phone to your car’s Bluetooth. It can also launch by itself when it detects car movement.
Now, the company is letting you add a homescreen shortcut as well. Several users have reported seeing an “Add driving mode to Home screen” prompt at the bottom of the Assistant Driving Mode app grid in recent days. Tapping that prompt lets you add an app shortcut for it. It’s essentially a 1×1 widget with a simplistic car icon and Google logo. It takes you to the Driving Mode screen that features a distraction-free interface with large touch targets for buttons. You also have restricted access to most apps, so you’re focused on your driving.
Since Android Auto had a dedicated icon in the app drawer, Going is doing well to add something similar for its replacement as well. It will certainly make many users happy. They no longer need to connect their phone to their car or use a voice command to launch Driving Mode. Tapping an icon on the screen will do the job.
As Android Police notes, the prompt reappears if you accidentally remove the shortcut from your homescreen. So you can add it back again unless you manually dismiss the prompt.
Google is rapidly improving the Assistant Driving Mode experience
Assistant Driving Mode is the official replacement for Google’s legacy Android Auto for phone screens. The company originally showed off the new driving experience back in May 2019. But it took more than two years for it to arrive.
The transition finally gained pace with the launch of Android 12 a few months back. And as more people switch over to Assistant Driving Mode from the Android Auto experience they had gotten used to, the company is taking measures to ensure that the new experience doesn’t leave much to be desired. The addition of a homescreen shortcut is an example of it.
However, Google still has work to do. Assistant Driving Mode doesn’t yet support landscape orientation and restricts you from using third-party navigation apps. In other words, the current version isn’t a 1:1 match for what the company originally promised. Hopefully, it wouldn’t take much longer now before Driving Mode evolves into the ultimate driving assistant Google promised a couple of years back.