After announcing it at I/O 2019, teasing it in 2020 and finally launching it officially last year, Google is shutting down the Assistant Driving Mode dashboard, 9to5Google reported. The feature gives users an Android Auto-lite experience on their smartphone while driving, and was effectively a replacement for the Android Auto smartphone app, which itself was killed last year.
Assistant Driving Mode shows a home screen-style page with Google Assistant up top, a music player and volume controls below that, and buttons to make a call or send a message. It can be accessed from the Assistant by saying "Hey Google, launch Driving Mode," or pinned to your home screen.
If you're confusing the Assistant Driving Mode with the Google Maps feature also called Driving Mode (above), that's understandable. Rather than launching from Assistant or the home screen, though, the Google Maps version launches from a four-dot menu at bottom right when you start navigation. Once open, it shows a row of large icons for calls, messages, and media apps that are easy to see and access while driving. Weirdly, when you first launch that mode within Maps, it offers to pin the other Driving Mode to your home screen.
Google is shutting down Assistant Driving Mode because it noticed that most people were just using the Maps version, it told 9to5Google. However, folks may not have even known the Assistant version existed because of the naming confusion and similarity between the apps. Google should maybe clarify the situation around navigation and entertainment for folks who don't have Android Auto built into their vehicles, because it's pretty darn confusing.