Android Auto is now only for car screens

Android Auto is now only for car screens

Android Auto is officially saying goodbye to the version that works directly on your phone, as it becomes an “only available for car screens” experience.

Android Auto is ‘only available for car screens’

When it first debuted in 2015, Android Auto was available in compatible vehicles as well as a version that could be used on your smartphone’s screen. Years later, Google decided to pull the plug on that experience, but had to offer “Android Auto for phone screens” as a stopgap solution while its replacement was still in the works.

At the beginning of this month, a message appeared in Android Auto for phone screens that this would soon disappear.

Android Auto for phone screens will soon stop working

Google had already discontinued Android Auto for phone screens on devices running Android 12 and above in 2021, but left the experience to those with previous versions of the operating system. Google confirmed that the Phone Screens app would be shutting down to everyone, but declined to share when the app would actually stop working.

Well, that day has come.

As of earlier this week, Android Auto for phone screens no longer works completely for users on Android 11 and earlier. The app is still installed, but is immediately redirected to Android Auto’s settings page upon launch, which states that the platform is now only available “for car screens”.

Android Auto is now only available for car screens

The change was immediately visible on our TCL 30 V running on Android 11, and started showing up a few days ago for some users.

Google Assistant Driving Mode is the replacement

The reason for the shutdown here, of course, is to send users into Google Assistant driving mode.

The driving mode saw its long-delayed wide rollout in 2021, with a different UI compared to what was initially announced in 2019, but eventually picked up in September. We recently reviewed the two experiences and found that driving mode is usually a suitable replacement for Android Auto for phone screens for most core functions. But it’s a distinctly different experience, and one that doesn’t to feel as replacement.

We concluded:

It makes sense that Google would want to shut down the existing Android Auto for Phone Screens app — it’s now a full generation out of date, and another Android Auto refresh is just around the corner. But the Assistant Driving Mode isn’t the replacement most people wanted.

It’s a shame to see the simplicity of Android Auto on your phone’s screen disappear for good. It was a great way to have a simple, driving-friendly interface in the car, without the need for a brand new vehicle or head unit replacement.

Anyway, what’s done is done – Android Auto is now just for car screens.

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