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Toyota moves further away from Android Auto and CarPlay with Telenav announcement

Toyota and Telenav are announcing today that certain 2016 vehicles will be the first to support Scout GPS Link, a feature that ferries route and destination information between the dashboard and a version of Telenav's Scout app for iPhone and Android. Scout already has an in-car turn-by-turn mode that you can use directly on your phone, but this makes it easier — all the interactions (including voice commands) happen through the car's display and audio system instead of the phone's.

scout gps link

If this sounds a little familiar, it should: Toyota recently entered an agreement with Ford to explore the use of its SmartDeviceLink technology, which — like Scout GPS Link — lets Toyota maintain control over its user interface in a way that Apple's CarPlay and Google's Android Auto do not. It's been a point of contention for a number of major automakers, who generally believe that they should control the connected car experience rather than farming it out to third parties; Volkswagen didn't commit to offering CarPlay or Android Auto until this year, Ford hasn't given an exact timeline, and BMW still thinks that its own platform is the way to go. This quote from Sal Dhanni, president of Telenav's automotive unit, is telling: "Scout GPS Link provides a flexible brought-in platform that enables car makers to customize the in-car experience to meet their customer needs."

Of course, Scout GPS Link is strictly for navigation, so it doesn't offer the flexibility of a CarPlay or an Android Auto — this is primarily in Toyota's interest, which can boast that it has a new connectivity point between its cars and drivers' phones. For one of the world's largest automakers, the next question will be whether support for Apple and Google in the dashboard will become a must-have for drivers cross-shopping Camrys against Passats and Malibus.