Jessica Dolcourt is a passionate content strategist and veteran leader of CNET coverage. As Senior Director of Content Operations, she leads a number of teams, including Thought Leadership, Speed Desk and How-To. Her CNET career began in 2006, testing desktop and mobile software for Download.com and CNET, including the first iPhone and Android apps and operating systems. She continued to review, report on and write a wide range of commentary and analysis on all things phones, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds.
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Your car doesn't have Android Auto? No big deal.
is making it easier for you to use your voice to navigate and stay connected -- right from your Android phone -- with a new feature called Assistant Driving Mode. The company announced the tool Tuesday morning at Google I/O, its annual developer conference. It'll work in both
Assistant Driving Mode is a redesigned dashboard that brings navigation, messaging, calls, and your media players all front and center. It'll be most useful if you've got your handset positioned in a dashboard dock, but that's not required to use Assistant Driving Mode.
To start it, you'll simply say, "Hey Google, let's drive." On hearing these wake words, Assistant surfaces the driving navigation view. This hooks into your calendar, music and missed calls and, of course, maps. So let's say you're leaving the office to meet a friend for dinner. Assistant Driving Mode might offer to navigate you there, or to the location of your next calendar item.
Watch this: Upgraded Google Assistant gets faster and smarter
If you missed a call, it might suggest to call back while you drive -- all hands-free. You can also resume a podcast you started listening to from home, without it automatically kicking in.
Most of the time, you'll focus on the map, which Driving Mode keeps at the top of your phone screen. A small music player might reside on the bottom. When a call comes in, it'll pop up from the bottom of the screen, so you can keep your eyes on the map.
Right now Assistant Driving Mode launches only through the voice wake word. Eventually, Google says you'll be able to flick the dashboard up on Google Maps and Waze.
Assistant Driving Mode arrives later this year on Assistant-enabled Android
in the US.