Toyota Entune apps are a good idea ... in theory

Toyota Entune apps are a good idea ... in theory

During the Chicago Auto Show this  year, I was on a social media panel, and they asked me what I thought the future of social and autos would be. My answer: Apps. Being able to automatically check in on foursquare or Facebook while driving. Being able to have tweets read to you over the speakers. That kind of thing. And while we aren't quite there yet, there are some automakers like Toyota who are taking a stab at the app thing.

And I applaud the stab. But, I gotta say: Can you please make it a little easier to use?

Unlike Chevrolet's suite of in-car apps, in addition having to download the actual app (such as Pandora or Open Table), you have to download Toyota's Entune app to connect everything. Why can't Pandora or Open Table just sync to the car once it's on your phone? Why do I need the Entune app as well?

OK. I've got time, I decided. I'll download the Entune app on my iPhone. So, I created an account, registered the Toyota Venza test vehicle and tried to play Pandora over the speakers. No go. I got a message saying that I had to log onto a computer (not through a mobile device) and sync my apps to the Entune app before I could use them.

Toyota Entune Fail

So, I tried the fuel app instead. Then I got an error message saying that I needed to make sure the Entune app is running on my device. Um. It was. And I could actually pull up the fuel prices on my phone via the app. Just not the car. I thought maybe I needed to log on to a computer to get any of it to work.

When I got home, I logged in via my Mac, synced up my Pandora app and Open Table app. Hit a few buttons and saw that it appeared to be working. I excitedly hopped in the car and decided to try to book a reservation at Salpicon for next week via Open Table in the car, and I got the same need-to-have-Entune-app-running error. Hmm. I tried Pandora, nothing. Fuel prices, nothing.

So, I give. What am I missing?

I think I'm pretty good with gadgets, and I did what the instructions said. But I clearly missed a key step in the process. If you know what it is, I'd love to hear it.

But still, why does it have to be that difficult? I loved the easy use of Chevrolet's app suite. BringGo was pretty amazing. And Pandora worked fine just by having my phone synced to the car. No specialized Chevrolet go-between app needed. Just saying.

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Filed under: Car du Jour, Today's Rant

Tags: Toyota Entune

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    You must connect your phone via a cord into a USB slot in the car. Then have the Entune app running on your phone. Then it should ask you if you want to connect, and also warn that it might use up a lot of data. Then you're connected, as long as your account is set up and logged in on the phone app. One other troubleshooting measure: If you're running a lot of other apps on your phone, close those and pull Entune back up one more time, and see if it's not connected.

  • In reply to Rat Mouth:

    Wait a minute. you have to PLUG IT IN for Entune apps to work? It doesn't work via Bluetooth? Well that stinks even worse.

  • In reply to Jill Ciminillo:

    If you have Display Audio (like your picture shows) then yes, you need to connect via cable AND Bluetooth. If you have Premium HDD system then it will work via BT only as you expected. Typically Apple does their own thing which forces companies to implement the same functionality twice and it can be difficult to keep the functionality identical. Or they may choose to support only one platform (like the BMW Mini App).

  • In reply to mdchachi:

    wow. just. wow. there's got to be a better way. hooking up to a cable in 2013 (almost 2014) is just craziness. other automakers have managed it ...

  • In reply to Jill Ciminillo:

    Which reminds me that Geoff Peterson (Craig Ferguson's robot skeleton sidekick) drove a Hyundai Veloster onto the stage of The Price is Right yesterday.

    Since Craig says that Jeff can't go more than 12 feet from an outlet, was he connected by Bluetooth or USB?

  • In reply to Jill Ciminillo:

    Actually you only need the USB cable with iPhones and not Android phones. And you don't need the USB if your iPhone is set up as a hot spot.

    You have to have the USB for iPod voice recognition and bluetooth kills battery life, so I always plug it in anyway - no big deal.

  • In reply to mdchachi:

    This gets back to a similar issue when Jill had a problem with a seat belt. If manufacturers are giving cars to reviewers with incomprehensible technology, how is the average Joe going to figure it out?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jill Ciminillo:

    I Googled "How to run Toyota Entune apps" and came across your blogs. I'd already tried the same things you did as well as what others stated. No go. My 2013 Prius's Entune apps won't work despite trying everything listed. They work fine on my iPhone & laptop. Ridiculous. I'm pretty tech savy, as are my teenagers who can't get Entune to work in my car either. It shouldn't be Rocket Science.

  • I don't know the answer (maybe Rat Mouth has it), but it seems like this was programmed by the same people who programmed healthcare.gov and Ventra. My Ford Touch got raked over the coals, too, about its interface. I can't figure out why someone has to go to reeducation camp to use an electronic system.

    At least GM seems to have gotten it right with OnStar, if it works as represented (push the blue button and get "this is Bolivar, how can I help you," or OnStar calling you if the air bag goes off). I suppose that's worth $20/month.

  • In reply to jack:

    GM does a lot of amazing things. OnStar is one of them. Those apps on the Sonic and Spark are another. Plus, I think they have even more good stuff coming.

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