What It Is
Entune is Toyota's entrant in the in-car infotainment wars. Hot on the heels of Ford's controversial MyFord Touch system, Entune takes a somewhat different approach-the idea is to give the centrally mounted touchscreen the functionality of a smartphone. Unlike some rivals, it doesn't provide control over basic vehicle functions, focusing instead on integrating handy apps into the driving experience.
How It Works
Well, it doesn't work at all unless you have an Android, Apple, or BlackBerry smartphone, so that's something to keep in mind. Assuming you've got a suitable smartphone with a data plan, the first step is to register your phone with Entune. Next, you use your phone to download the Entune app, which includes everything you need to make the system work. Once Entune is activated, you use the car's touchscreen (or the voice-recognition software, on models so equipped) to operate it; note, however, that your phone serves as the data connection, so you'll need to have your phone in the car at all times-and an unlimited data plan is preferred.
The core of the Entune interface is a collection of six apps, access to which is free for the first three years but subject to a monthly fee thereafter-except Pandora, the popular music recommendation app, which will keep cranking out free music for the duration. The other apps are the Bing search engine, iHeartRadio (providing access to about 750 radio stations across the country), MovieTickets.com, OpenTable, and a Toyota-sourced data app that includes a refueling guide, a stock ticker, sports updates, traffic monitoring, and weather conditions.
Interestingly, Toyota has elected to bar additional apps from Entune for now, so you're stuck with just those six, although the company is taking suggestions on which apps to add in the future.
Entune's app-centric approach sets it apart for the time being, but widespread direct competition is around the corner in the form of GM's MyLink/IntelliLink systems, which include Pandora functionality while also offering touchscreen integration for the climate controls. MyFord Touch doesn't provide app compatibility, but it does boast-for better or worse-a geek-pleasing smorgasbord of features and customization options. The other notable rival at the moment is Chrysler's latest uConnect system (as seen in the 300 sedan), which actually does the best smartphone impression of the bunch, providing fast and user-friendly touchscreen control over a wide range of vehicle functions; however, it too lacks Entune's app-based philosophy.