Toyota has started adding Apple CarPlay to its vehicles, but so far has stayed away from the smartphone-integration system's Android Auto counterpart. That may be about to change, as Bloomberg reports Toyota may announce the addition of Android Auto as early as October.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have proven popular with consumers because they import familiar smartphone interfaces into oftentimes confusing car infotainment systems. Both systems allow a driver to access smartphone functions using a car's built-in touchscreens, buttons, and voice-control systems. Automakers and tech companies claim they lessen distraction, and some research has previously supported that.
But Toyota has been reticent to give Apple and Google valuable real estate on its dashboards. The Japanese automaker tried to match the functionality of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as part of its new Linux-based infotainment system, but that proved unpopular with customers and Toyota began adding Apple CarPlay to new cars in January 2018.
Previously, drivers could access both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto using the SmartDeviceLink platform developed by Ford, and used by Toyota in its current infotainment systems. However, the performance of both systems on SmartDeviceLink was limited compared to conventional installations. SmartDeviceLink was originally created by Ford to facilitate the development of apps for car infotainment systems, similar to the way so-called "ecosystems" of apps are created for phone operating systems.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are currently limited to putting an Apple or Google-specific wrapper on infotainment functions, but Google parent Alphabet would like to take things further. The company has signed agreements with Volvo and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance to develop complete infotainment systems for those automakers. Should the much-discussed future of self-driving cars come to pass, this could become a high-stakes game as consumers' attention shifts from driving to engaging with in-car tech.