While Android integration has already started to make its way into modern-day automobiles, the next step forward is Android Auto, which should start surfacing in model year 2015 vehicles later this year and into next year. We’re already seeing quite a few companies through their weight behind the effort, but it seems that Toyota has something completely different in mind — at least in Taiwan.
Partnering with Asus-owned Unimax, Toyota has announced the “Toyota Intelligent System”, which essentially brings a dockable Nexus 7 to select vehicles. The idea is that ‘smart’ infotainment systems are useful, but also tend to go obsolete long before you’re ready to upgrade to a new car. With the TIS, the heart of your experience is within a replaceable tablet. Today it’s the Nexus 7, but in the future Toyota and Unimax could make another newer tablet compatible with the system, provided it has the same overall dimensions.
Keep in mind this isn’t just a stock Nexus 7, as it appears the interface has been customized to better fit the in-car experience. That means GPS apps, multimedia controls and more. The standard stock experience is fully there when undocked from the TIS, however. But what if you take the tablet out of the car and forget to put it back in? The TIS will still provide ‘basic’ functions (radio, etc) even without the tablet docked. It’s also worth noting that the system comes with NFC to temporarily pair other devices (like your phone) with the audio system.
Now it’s worth mentioning that this system has only been announced for Taiwan and it is unclear if or when they’ll be introducing the system to other markets. Toyota has also yet to highlight which of their vehicles will come equipped with the technology.
TIS is certainly an interesting take on in-car Android integration, but is it the right solution for consumers? Only time will tell for sure. What do you think, like the idea of Tis or do you feel Android Auto (or another system) is a better fit?