Hands-on with Toyota Entune

CNET Car Tech gets a close look at Toyota's new Entune telematics system.

Entune menu
The main Entune menu appears on the car's LCD, and shows the available apps. Toyota

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LAS VEGAS--Earlier we reported on the launch of Toyota's Entune telematics service , and today we had our first hands-on experience with the new system. Toyota had a demonstration head unit set up, sans car, at CES.

Toyota provided an Android phone with the Entune app, and showed us an iPhone with its version of the Entune app. We paired the Android phone with the head unit via Bluetooth. When we hit the Info button on the head unit's bezel, a screen came up giving us options for traffic and weather provided by XM satellite radio, and an apps button in the shape of a folder. Touching the apps button brought up a screen with buttons for Bing, OpenTable, MovieTickets.com, Pandora, and Iheartradio.

With Bing, we typed in a search for restaurants, and it brought up a list of those nearest to our location. Touching one of those entries gave us the option of feeding the address directly into the navigation system as a destination.

Voice command is also enabled with Bing. Touching a microphone button on the screen, we were able to say, "I need to get some flowers," and it quickly brought up a list of nearby florists.

OpenTable worked in very similar fashion as on its Web site or app, finding nearby restaurants and listing available reservation times. Users enter their account information for OpenTable and the other apps through a Toyota owners' Web site, so it can facilitate the interaction between those services and the Entune app.

We were able to find stations on Pandora and Iheartradio and listen to them through the system's speakers. In a car, the stations would play through the audio system.

Interestingly, you do not need to install the individual apps, such as Pandora or OpenTable, on your phone. Entune brings in all their functionality. Toyota can add apps to Entune, which would subsequently appear in the car's interface.

Toyota would not specify the model for which Entune will first become available, but it will only work in a navigation-equipped vehicle. Users will have to pay for the Entune app, then get three years of free service.

 

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