Apps! Pretty much everywhere—but one place they could add some needed help is in the car. Toyota’s Entune dashboard puts some old faves—Bing, Pandora, and OpenTable—on wheels. In action, it looks like it could be pretty damn useful.
Making a dinner reservation on the way to dinner sounds good. The Entune dash uses your phone as a sort of modem, pulling in data for its apps via 3G, and then ferrying that to the car with Bluetooth. CES is pretty much cell reception hell, but Bing web results (and corresponding map directions) were snappy enough given the awful conditions. Pandora radio is also a nice touch, for when FM is driving you completely insane. Or, if you’re in the mood for some local stations, the iheartradio app will pull in your hometown dial.
The screen wasn’t perfectly responsive—whether this was something they’ll be able to hammer out before it hits assembly lines remains to be seen, but having to repeatedly tap on a touchscreen while driving isn’t a comforting prospect. Entune does, reassuringly, offer some voice recognition support, which should compensate for whatever frustration and safety issues the touch interface presents. The interface itself is mighty clean though—running on proprietary Toyota software—and only required a few taps to go from main menu to driving directions.
Toyota was mum on which models would see the Entune option or how much it would cost, but assured me that regular app updates (through your phone) would mean added, car-friendly features in the future. [Toyota]