It has been almost four years since Google released Android Auto with partners like Hyundai and Pioneer, but one of the largest automakers in the world has just now agreed to play ball. As rumored, Toyota will deploy Android Auto in many upcoming vehicles, as well as a few existing ones. However, some of the company’s most popular cars will continue to ship without Auto support.
Toyota confirms that the 2020 4Runner, Tacoma, Tundra, and Sequoia will all have Android Auto. Those are all full-sized SUVs and trucks. The automaker will also get Android Auto into the 2018 Ayago and 2019 Yaris (in Europe). It’s better than nothing, but top-selling sedans like the Camry and Prius aren’t slated to get Auto at this time.
Toyota was also among the last carmakers to get on board with Apple’s CarPlay platform. It announced in January 2018 that the 2019 Avalon would get CarPlay. After that, Apple’s in-car system spread to the company’s other sedans and small SUVs like the popular RAV4. Toyota says that CarPlay will expand to all the vehicles now slated to get Android Auto, but Auto will remain more limited for now.
It’s really a testament to how lousy stock infotainment systems are that CarPlay and Android Auto have become standard in most new cars so quickly. These systems rely on phones to project an interface onto a car’s display, which naturally comes with some limitations. Most vehicles require a wired connection, but wireless projection for CarPlay and Android Auto is available with select head units and cars.
Toyota reportedly held out for so long because of security worries. Instead of going with Apple or Google, it built a new infotainment platform with Automotive Grade Linux, powered by Ford’s SmartDeviceLink. That allowed select smartphone apps to appear on the screen, but not the apps people wanted.
In the end, there wasn’t much to fear for automakers. Android Auto (and CarPlay) don’t have access to any vital vehicle systems — Android Auto has a useless car stats tab that no one has bothered to use. However, Google is working on a fully integrated version of Android for cars. It has shown prototypes of this system to curious onlookers at the last few Google I/O events, but Android Auto is still firmly entrenched as Google’s primary automotive platform.
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