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Citing safety and privacy concerns, Toyota refuses to offer CarPlay and Android Auto

2016 Toyota Tacoma
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Many automakers are rushing to offer cars that are compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Toyota, however, is bragging about keeping both infotainment systems out of its cars’ dashboards.

Updated 8-12-2015: Edited to reflect that Scout is free for Toyota owners.

Instead, the Japanese car maker has turned to a relatively small California-based company called Telenav for its next brought-in infotainment system. Named Scout GPS Link, the software will make its debut in the updated 2016 Tacoma that’s scheduled to go on sale nationwide in the near future.

Scout GPS Link lets users transfer information and data from their phone to their car’s in-dash screen. Compatible with both Apple and Android devices, it boasts a long list of functions such as one-touch controls, voice recognition and navigation. Downloading the application is free, and it is free to use for owners of compatible Toyota vehicles.

Toyota has yet to comment on its decision to eschew Android Auto and CarPlay, but Telenav provided insight into the matter.

“This is a solution over which Toyota has full control. A big aspect for Toyota was the driver-distraction element and making it a safe experience,” explained Niall Berkery, Telenav’s director of automotive business development.

Notably, the executive pointed out that CarPlay and Android Auto users have to exit an application in order to open up another one. Telenav users can split the display in two in order to access, for example, the navigation and the entertainment functions at the same time. Toyota believes the split-screen features makes roads much safer by reducing distractions.

Telenav hopes to gain access to some of the customer data gathered by Scout GPS Link in order to further develop its infotainment system, but additional details were not published.

Toyota’s surprising decision isn’t necessarily permanent, and the company told industry trade journal Automotive News that it might reconsider the matter once it’s looked into how Android Auto and Carplay protect customer data, and whether or not they help the driver stay focused on the road ahead.

For the time being, a slew of 2016 Toyota models are set to gain Telenav’s Scout GPS Link infotainment system in the coming months. Whether Lexus models will get a Telenav-designed infotainment system is up in the air.

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Ronan Glon
Ronan Glon is an American automotive and tech journalist based in southern France. As a long-time contributor to Digital…
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