Android Auto has a new dark mode, but Google is killing the smartphone version

The in-car version of Android Auto has a new dark mode and more streamlined interface rolling out now, but Google is planning to kill off the companion smartphone app.

According to Android Police, Android Auto for phones will be replaced by the existing Google Assistant app, which will receive a new interface (called Google Assistant Driving Mode).

You'll be able to launch the new mode by simply telling your phone 'Let's drive' – a command that currently either opens Google Maps or performs a search.

It's not clear exactly when the old app will be deprecated, but California-based Google has said it will happen in the summer, so we're expecting it to happen in the next month or so.

Behind the wheel

Meanwhile, the in-car version of Android Assistant is getting a makeover, with a new dark mode rolling out worldwide. Google teased the slick design back in May, and it's now arriving on dashboards.

The update isn't just a different color-scheme, though. Google has also made several more practical changes, such as updating the navigation bar to reflect what you're currently doing. For example, if you're playing music while navigating, the bar will show your next instruction along with controls for the media player.

There's also a new Auto-launch feature, which launches your preferred navigation app and fires up your music the moment you plug in your phone. It might seem like a small change, but anything that shaves a few moments off the morning commute is always welcome.

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