Android smartphone users addicted to using the Android Auto dashboard interfaces may no longer have to exclude Toyota vehicles from their car-shopping lists. In a dance among giants, the automaker reportedly has reached a deal to support Google's infotainment software in its cars.
Until now, Toyota had cited security and safety concerns for holding out even as other major automakers got on board. But Bloomberg News has reported, citing a person familiar with the matter, that the companies have worked out their differences and that an official announcement could come as early as next month. Neither company would comment, however.
It was only this year that Toyota announced it would begin to support Apple's CarPlay in its vehicles, starting with the redone 2019 Avalon, with the new Corolla Hatchback, redesigned RAV4 and Lexus UX among those following. Others are on the way as its latest-generation multimedia systems roll out.
The Bloomberg report left some questions that will have to await the official announcement, starting with which Toyota vehicles first, and when? Also, can it be added as an update to current vehicles getting Apple CarPlay?
But already clear is that it's a big get for Google in expanding its reach into automobiles. It also seems to be an acknowledgement by Toyota of the fact that smartphone integration has quickly morphed to something car buyers might want to something they believe they need, making their phones less distracting to use in the car and adding entertainment and navigation capabilities. And in that context, Android Auto may be more important than CarPlay (which Apple modestly describes as "the ultimate co-pilot") since the number of Android-powered phones in use far outnumbers Apple iPhones.
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