Ending years of resistance, Toyota has finally agreed to add Android Auto to its lineup of vehicles. The Japanese automaker was until now reluctant to do so fearing safety and security concerns surrounding Google’s infotainment software.
For the first time, Toyota will allow devices enabled with Android Auto to connect to its cars directly. The company had earlier announced compatibility with Apple Inc.’s CarPlay in January this year. Previously, both infotainment platforms could only link through to Toyota cars using SmartDeviceLink, a telematics system developed by Ford. SmartDeviceLink controls how Android Auto and Apple CarPlay appear on the cars’ dash and limits the systems’ access to vehicle data.
Toyota speculates the addition of Android Auto may bring back customers who had avoided the Japanese automaker’s cars owing to the lack of connectivity. Today, more than 80 percent of smartphones come with the Google software, with the rest using the Apple iOS, according to Bloomberg Intelligence’s data. According to people privy to this recent development, an announcement could come as soon as October. The people declined to be identified discussing information that is not yet public.
For Alphabet Inc. (holding company of Google), it’s another way to penetrate its software into even more vehicles, although it is on a much smaller scale than its technology partnership with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance. A Toyota spokesperson said that the carmaker has acknowledged the massive demand for Android Auto and that direct connection is something the company is considering, declining to comment further. Google was also unavailable for comment.
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