Google has been notorious for axing its products and services without much warning or explanation. One of the most recent examples of this is Stadia, Google’s cloud gaming platform that was shut down in 2023. Stadia was not the first and will not be the last product to face Google’s wrath. The company is expected to continue with this trend in 2024 as well, and one of the features that may be on the chopping block is Driving mode in Google Maps.
Driving mode is a feature that allows Google Maps users to switch to a different interface while driving, which shows useful information such as traffic, speed, directions, calls, messages, and more on the phone’s screen. Driving mode is designed to help drivers focus on the road and avoid distractions, while also providing easy access to essential functions.
However, Driving mode may soon be discontinued by Google, according to some clues found in the latest version of the Google app. A feature with the code string “view” is mentioned to be going away in February 2024, and this could be referring to Driving mode, as it is also known as “view mode” in some regions. The reason for this possible decision is not clear, but it could be related to Google’s push towards AI and Assistants.
Google may be planning to replace Driving mode with Assistant, its voice-based virtual assistant that can perform various tasks and answer queries. Assistant is already integrated with Google Maps and can be used to get directions, make calls, send messages, play music and more, all by using voice commands. Google may think that Assistant is a better and safer option for drivers, as it does not require them to look at or touch the phone’s screen.
However, this may not be a welcome change for many Google Maps users, who may prefer Driving mode over Assistant for various reasons. For one, Driving mode offers a visual interface that can be customized and personalized according to the user’s preferences. For another, Driving mode works well for people who do not have Android Auto in their cars or do not want to use it in wired mode. Android Auto is another Google product that allows users to connect their phones to their car’s display and use Google Maps and other apps. Moreover, Driving mode may be more reliable and accurate than Assistant, which may not always understand the user’s voice or commands, especially in noisy environments or with different accents. Finally, the Driving mode may be more privacy-friendly than the Assistant, which may collect and store the user’s voice data and other information.
Google has not officially confirmed or denied that Driving mode is shutting down, so there is still hope that the feature will survive or be revamped in some way. There have been reports that Google is working on a new project called Gemini, which is supposed to be a major overhaul of Google Maps with new features and improvements. Gemini may include a new version of Driving mode or a similar feature that can satisfy the users’ needs. Until then, Google Maps users can enjoy Driving mode while it lasts and hope that Google will not take away one of the most useful and popular features in Maps.