Android Auto is in kind of a weird spot right now. Google announced it last year at Google I/O. We’ve seen loads of demos at places like Google I/O, CES and even at the Detroit and Chicago Auto Shows. Google helped create the Open Automotive Alliance last year, which saw a bunch of car makers as well as NVIDIA join in. One of the more notable car makers who was missing, was Toyota. Earlier this week, Toyota told the New York Times, that it was skipping Android Auto because it felt its own infotainment system was better. I have a problem with that. And I’ll explain why in a minute. While Toyota may feel their infotainment system is better, why can’t the user or in this case, the customer choose?
So here’s the problem I have with Toyota. Every other car maker has kept their own proprietary software for their infotainment system and built in Android Auto. If we look at Hyundai, for instance. If you don’t plug in your Android phone, you have their own infotainment system. Now if you plug in your phone, you get the choice of using their infotainment system or Android Auto. It’s the same case for Apple’s CarPlay as well. So Toyota can think their infotainment system is better (I have no opinion on that), but why not give your customer the option of using Android Auto, Apple CarPlay or your own infotainment system? I think that’s the bigger deal here. Sure, you can go ahead and buy an after-market unit from JVC, Kenwood, Pioneer, etc., but if you’re buying a brand new car right now, you shouldn’t need to do that.
Other than Toyota, everyone else seems to be on board with Android Auto. Although we haven’t heard anything from Tesla and surprisingly Cadillac, seeing as most of GM’s other brands are going to use Android Auto. I’d expect to see more car makers jump on board later this year and into next year. With Android Auto not actually being available to the public yet, I think a lot of the car makers are waiting to see what happens until they commit. And that could be the downfall of Android Auto. I definitely hope it isn’t, but who knows.
When you go to buy a new car in the next year or two, are you only going to look at ones that have Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay? Or is it not a big deal to you? Let us know in the comments below.