Connected car revolution has arrived

Dashboard systems with a variety of apps and links to your smartphone are no longer limited to expensive add-ons on luxury cars. Digital dashboard tech isn't all that fancy anymore. Now, it's an expected feature.

Dashboard systems with a variety of apps and links to your smartphone, like the Toyota Entune system shown here, are no longer limited to expensive add-ons on luxury cars. Now, Bluetooth pairing, and digital navigation and music controls are expected features for anyone buying a new car. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Last year, Audi included a dedicated data connection into some of its models to power services, such as Google Earth integration with its navigation system. This year other automakers piled on the connected car effort, with varying strategies to enable the types of services we have become used to on our smartphones in dashboards. Witness the Ford Sync AppLink, Toyota Entune, and Chevrolet MyLink as three top examples.

Most automakers leverage our own smartphones' data connection to deliver services such as Pandora music streaming, destination search, and even social media. At the same time, each automaker customizes the experience in order to keep it from distracting drivers from the task of driving while providing useful information.

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