Ford had a monopoly on in-car connectivity with its Sync system for the last four years until Kia’s UVO debuted in 2010. Now another automaker has finally caught up as Toyota just debuted its Entune Multimedia System at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show.
Toyota’s Entune functions much like its competitors in that it uses the drivers’ mobile phone data plan for connectivity. Users can simply download the Toyota Entune app to their mobile phone and pair it with the car via Bluetooth — so long as the vehicle is equipped with Entune, which debuts on select models later this year. Using the Entune app and the users’ data plan, Entune provides a way to interact with the phone — reading text messages, playing music, and more — without touching the phone, giving Ford’s Sync another competitor.
“Consumers have grown accustomed to having the world at their fingertips through their mobile phones,” said Jon Bucci, vice president of Toyota’s advanced technology department, in a prepared statement. “And unlike other industry solutions, Entune allows the driver to interact with informative and entertaining mobile content without fumbling with their phone. We offer features that our customers demand and integrate them seamlessly in the vehicle.”
Some of those features include mobile apps such as OpenTable, allowing drivers to make a reservation at a restaurant on-the-go; iheartradio, Pandora, and USB auxiliary radio connections, giving users nearly endless music options; along with the ability to buy movie tickets from the car and receive real-time, customizable weather, stock, traffic, fuel prices, and sports updates. Of course Entune also interacts with the car’s navigation system, with access to Bing Maps as well as the Bing search engine.
To interact with Entune, users can use in-car controls or a voice recognition system that Toyota calls class leading. Ford’s updated Sync system recognizes some 10,000 voice commands, so we’re interested to see just how easy-to-use Toyota’s system is in comparison.
Toyota’s Entune Multimedia System debuts on unnamed, select models later this year and will be shown at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas this week. We’re looking forward to getting our hands on an Entune-equipped model and testing it for ourselves. For now, take a look at the video below to see how the system functions.