Important Information About Ultimate Driving Mode Availability
Google has implemented new restrictions on apps that use calling and SMS permissions such as Ultimate Driving Mode. Because of these restrictions, Ultimate Driving Mode will soon be removed from Google Play, and we will be discontinuing support. To ease the transition for our users, we have made the app available as a direct download from our web site.
The new restrictions imposed by Google affect numerous apps and millions of users. Google's decision is extremely unpopular with both developers and end users. We have attempted on multiple occasions to obtain an exception from Google since the calling and SMS permissions are essential for our app to function, but every attempt was met with denial.
If you wish to leave feedback for Google, you can add a comment to the Google Issue Tracker.
What Happens Next?
With release 2.1.6, all ads have been removed and all in-app purchases have been enabled. This will allow access to all features without a dependency on Google Play. No further updates will be made to the app other than critical bug fixes. There will also be no guarantee that it will work on future versions of Android.
On March 1 2019, Ultimate Driving Mode will be unpublished from Google Play. We have posted an installer on our web site, UltimateDrivingMode.com. You can manually download and install the app from there. Before trying to install, you will need to enable installation of unknown apps in the security section of your phone's settings.
On July 8 2019, we will be discontinuing support for the app (at UltimateDrivingMode.com/help), but it can still be downloaded.
At a later date, still to be determined, the web site will be taken down. Feel free to download and save a copy of the installer (.apk file) for your own personal use.
I really need Alexa while driving. What are my other options?
We have another app called Ultimate Alexa. It's not a driving app, but it does let you talk to Alexa hands-free by using the "Alexa" wake word.
We are also investigating the possibility of developing an Alexa app that would integrate with Android Auto, allowing you to use both voice assistants while driving. If you're interested, open a ticket at UltimateDrivingMode.com/help to let us know and we'll update you on this via email.
Were other options for the app considered?
Google provided two alternatives, but neither would provide an acceptable experience for our users. One option was to allow the app to be the default assistant on the phone. This would allow the app to function normally, but would have the serious side effect of disabling the Google Assistant. Our customers would need to dive deep into the phone's settings area to switch assistant apps before and after each drive.
The second option would be to remove the call and SMS permissions, but this would severely limit the app's safety and usability. For example, it would be possible to compose a text message by voice, but the text would simply be sent to the corresponding message app as a pre-filled message. Additional steps would need to be taken in the messaging app to actually send the message. This would be a significant inconvenience and have an adverse impact on the app's safety while driving.
Will you be providing refunds for in-app purchases?
We will provide refunds for any purchase made on or after 1/1/2019. You will need your transaction ID from Google Play, which can be found by logging into pay.google.com. Once you have this, open a ticket at UltimateDrivingMode.com/help to request the refund.
Did any other factors influence your decision to discontinue the app?
When Ultimate Driving Mode first launched in mid 2016, it provided some significant features that were not available in Android Auto, such as Alexa access, MMS messaging, and no requirement for special hardware in your car. Since then, the capabilities of Google's assistant have improved dramatically and Android Auto supports MMS messages and can run with a smartphone only. Also, many new cars now come with Android Auto preinstalled. These factors have reduced demand for Ultimate Driving Mode.