Toyota finally caves and announces cars with Android Auto compatibility

Photo By Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

One of the last major holdouts in adding Android Auto compatibility has finally caved. Toyota announced on Thursday that the 2020 models of the 4Runner, Tacoma, Tundra, and Sequoia will feature Android Auto. The 2018 Aygo and the 2019 Yaris (in Europe) will also get Android Auto.

Toyota was one of the last big automakers to build CarPlay compatibility into its cars, too. The company announced in January 2018 that CarPlay would come to the 2019 Avalon. After that, it spread to the company’s other sedans and small SUVs. On Thursday, Toyota announced that CarPlay will also come to the new models that are getting Android Auto.

Rumors of Toyota finally allowing Android Auto in its cars first started swirling last fall. One of the reasons Toyota cited for holding off on adding Android Auto compatibility was that the automaker had concerns about the security of the feature. Toyota instead focused on developing its own infotainment system based on Automotive Grade Linux, which uses Ford’s SmartDeviceLink to allow some phone apps to be mirrored on a car’s screen, mimicking the main draw of CarPlay and Android Auto.

CarPlay and Android Auto have become so standard in the industry that it’s almost hard to remember that, just a few short years ago, automakers appeared terrified by the idea of ceding control of the screens in cars to technology companies. One by one, though, most major automakers rolled out compatibility for both services. Some, like BMW, have even rolled out a wireless version of CarPlay. (Wireless Android Auto is available, but only on specific head units.)

In the meantime, Google has been working with a few automakers on rolling out a native version of Android Auto of sorts. This new Android-powered infotainment system will debut this year on the all-electric Polestar 2, the second car from Volvo’s performance brand. It will eventually come to Volvo’s own models, too. Google has also struck a deal to bring its Android infotainment system to cars made by the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance. We recently spoke with the head of Android Auto about what that will look like.


Good news, everyone who doubles-down on stupid gets to enjoy some tasty humble pie!

Huh? It’s just a new feature. Carmakers add them all the time.

They’re pretty damn late, should have added this a while ago.

Literally the only reason I ended up with a Hyundai 2 weeks ago over a Toyota was the absence of Android Auto. The Prius still doesn’t have it, so no regrets.

Got a new car and Carplay is probably my favorite feature. Would not get another car without it.

Honestly, this feature was enough to push me over to VW. I didn’t like Chevy’s compact sedan, Ford was long in the tooth and they announced they were giving up on sedans. The Civic is too low to my fiance’s liking and the infotainment system is notoriously slow, and Toyota didn’t offer Carplay at the time, hence I ended up in a Jetta.

I use this feature every time I get in a car, so it’s a real deal breaker if it isn’t offered.

so no Tesla for you

It was one of the reasons I passed on the Model 3.

My car does not have Android auto but at this point I refuse to buy another car that doesn’t have it. I only buy used cars so this may end up meaning I have to pass on Toyota, depends on when I end up getting a car though.

My favorite feature is the accelerator followed by the automatic door locks.
I mean, how can you top those?

surprised to see that they listen sometimes, maybe the lower sales finally made them realize that people doesn’t want their filthy useless on board proprietary software

it’s a bit of an old news but ya know, it’s entirely possible that Google relented and offered a better deal to Toyota, after Apple came in the picture. thought I heard that the "security" issue was aggressive data collection by Google while not much data shared back with, to Toyota’s wishes…

That is exactly why BMW don’t have AA and VW have recently disabled Google Earth. Google wanted user-identifiable tracking.

Thing is, if you have an Android phone they already know exactly where you are, so whether or not you use Android Auto on the car or use Google Maps on your phone it doesn’t really change anything.

Let’s be real: Sundar Pichai already knows everything about me, from where I work and grocery shop to my porn tastes. Giving them more personal information through Android Auto is not going to make one iota of a difference in the long run. Glad Toyota finally came to their senses.

Technically they didn’t listen, they were one of the last holdouts then suffered from dwindling sales. Market forces forced them to adopt.

Toyota’s sales are up over the last three years. There was a small decline (less than 1,000 total cars, out of more than 2 million) from 2017 to 2018, but it’s kind of hard to say that’s because people suddenly realized their cars don’t have Android Auto.

More like consistently low reviews of Entune is what brought Toyota around. Toyota has internally been pushing their CV team to get better Entune ratings and has been working with their suppliers to improve their overall quality, but it has clearly failed and Xevo, who makes the Entune mobile apps and headunit stack, probably won’t exist in its current form given that Toyota is moving away from them.

Entune 3.0 has a 1.5 star review on both Google Play and the iTunes app store.

Telenav’s Scout GPS Link, which powers the projected nav solution on the MY2018 and up Camry as well as the Lexus NX CUV, somehow has a 3.5 star review despite the 1 star reviews clearly outnumbering the 5 star reviews.

BMW may well have wireless CarPlay (so far only in the 5 series as far as I know), but they don’t support Android Auto at all. There was talk that they would charge a subscription for CarPlay but so far I’ve yet to see that materialize.

I’ve bought multiple BMWs including my current car but I’m not going back to them until they add Android Auto.

You have to pay for Connecteddrive once the warranty expires but this also includes the SIM service so isn’t bad value.

BMW is far from the only car company that charges a subscription for their remote access app. To me, that’s a nice, value-add feature but not an absolute necessity. And I can at least understand the rationale behind a subscription, namely that the automaker is operating that service and they want to charge to access that service. Same thing with satellite radio, because that’s something that’s a subscription across the board.

CarPlay and Android Auto are not services tied to subscriptions. They’re software/hardware features that every other carmaker that offers them does not charge a subscription for. BMW charging a subscription is effectively them saying, "we’re going to artificially block you from using this thing that’s built into your car until you pay us more money to turn it back on."

I’ll give you an example. My wife has a 2018 Mazda CX-5. Mazda has a remote start app that’s $400 to add the hardware to the car, a year of access to it, and then some kind of subscription to access thereafter. We didn’t bother with it. We really wanted a car with Android Auto for her, but Mazda wasn’t offering it on their 2018 cars, yet. They have since put out a retrofit kit for many of their older cars including ours. It’s about $175 on ebay to buy the parts from a dealer, or otherwise my local dealer will install the thing with labor and everything else for $450. But it’s a one-time charge. No subscription.

There’s no reason that every other car brand, including plenty that are way cheaper than BMW, that offers CarPlay and Android Auto lets their customers access those features in perpetuity, while much-pricier BMWs hold built-in features for ransom.

Toyota, while making very dependable vehicles, has always been decades behind with their electronics. Go look at new ones in a showroom. It’s like you are looking at vehicles from the 1990’s. Maybe it’s part of their thinking that if they stick with 20 year old technology it will be more dependable.

Well outside of electronics, this has worked well for them. But they do need to keep the electronics more modern.

I guess Tesla is not big enough to be considered one of the remaining holdouts either.

Either way, I’m still waiting for Toyota to give up on fuel-cell and get aboard the BEV train. Honda is secretly making moves with their concept car and quietly partnering with CATL (Contemporary Amperex Technology).

Toyota is making moves already, they are gearing up to have a big battery factory. This is the first step.

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