Toyota has been staying away from using Android Auto in its vehicles, as it saw Google as a competitor. It was kept this stance until this week at the Chicago Auto Show where Toyota announced that it was bringing Android Auto to five vehicles by the 2020 model year.
Included in this first round of Android Auto compatible vehicles are: 2020 4Runner, 2018 Aygo, 2020 Sequoia, 2020 Tacoma, and the 2020 Tundra. In Europe, it will also be the 2019 Yaris – technically making it six.
There's no word yet about whether or not Toyota will bring Android Auto to older models as well, or if it will only be available on newer cars. That will likely be answered when Android Auto does begin to roll out in the next year or so.
With Android Auto on-board, Android users are going to be able to plug in their smartphone while they are in the car and get an Android operating system on their dashboard. This brings Google Maps and Waze for navigation, as well as being able to make phone calls and stream music. You can also reply to messages and see your messages on the screen. It's a projection, similar to plugging in your laptop to your monitor.
In most cases, Android Auto is a much better experience than the built-in infotainment system – both in looks and in functionality.
Toyota steered away from Google, as it did see it as a competitor. This was because of Waymo – formerly the Google Self-Driving Car Project. Toyota felt that it would essentially be giving the keys to Google, by allowing it to have Android Auto built into its cars. Google does collect some data when you are using Android Auto, but this is really only data that is used to make Android Auto better.
By giving Google all of this data, Toyota felt that it was being put at an unfair advantage. But now that Google has said it is not going to be building cars for Waymo, instead it is focusing on self-driving hardware not manufacturing vehicles, it likely softened Toyota's stance a bit. Ford was in the same position, but eventually decided to let Android Auto into its vehicles.
Now that Toyota does support Android Auto on some of its vehicles, that means that Google does have just about every major car maker out there with Android Auto either available or coming soon. Now Toyota has not yet gone all in with Android Auto, but that should be coming in the next couple of years. It likely wants to iron out the kinks on this small selection of vehicles first, before expanding it to other vehicles.
If your car is not on this list that will be getting Android Auto, you can still use it via your smartphone. If you dock it in your vehicle, you can open the Android Auto app and use it. You also have the ability to install an aftermarket head unit and get a large display in your car that would support Android Auto. Which is also a pretty cool thing.