Toyota unveils Entune, its in-car entertainment platform with apps from popular providers, today at CES 2011, firing a shot across the bow at Ford’s Sync and MyFord Touch systems.
Toyota hopes to take a bite out of a market Ford has dominated since introducing Sync in 2007. Ford recently upped the ante on connectivity by being the first to offer smartphone-app integration with Sync.
With smartphones becoming ubiquitous and one study showing 55 percent of smartphone owners prefer voice commands for in-car smartphone integration, the business case for something like Entune is compelling.
Entune runs on a proprietary operating system that connects with a driver’s mobile phone to access Toyota’s app store, stream audio, provide safety and telematics data and download software updates.
At this point, the mobile apps include Microsoft’s Bing search engine and Clear Channel’s IHeartRadio music-streaming service, plus Pandora, Movietickets.com and OpenTable. Other apps may follow, but only after being vetted by Toyota to ensure they don’t encourage driver distraction.
“We’re not at a place where it’s a completely open platform, but it’s not completely closed either,” said Jon Bucci, vice president of Toyota’s Advanced Technology Department. “We first want to make sure that the applications we develop are exactly what our customers are asking for, and parallel with that, making sure they can be delivered appropriately in a vehicle.”