Several decades from now, when automotive historians take a look back at the first 20 or so years of the 21st century, they may recognize the period as the "Telematics Era," or perhaps the "Infotainment Age."
We've witnessed a surge in gadgets designed to keep us informed and entertained while on the move -- initially from the automotive aftermarket. Now the car companies themselves want in on the action, and they're providing more and more complex, digitally connected gizmos as factory equipment.
Toyota, one of the world's largest automakers, is placing its marker with a system it calls Entune. Using a driver's cellular phone as a data carrier, Entune connects with a host of concierge-like services from inside an Entune-equipped Toyota vehicle.
Japan-based Toyota certainly isn't the first to enter this field. Telematics systems, a broad term that describes on-board electronics used to communicate data about safety, vehicle location, vehicle condition and more, have been around for several years. Perhaps the most recognized of these systems is GM's OnStar service. More recently, Ford Motor Company has been gaining traction with its SYNC service, which provides information, entertainment and all-around digital connectivity in concert with a driver's cell phone.
In this article, we'll focus on the Entune system, taking a look at its features, the technologies that power it and how it's used.
Curious to know what you'll find on an Entune-equipped car? Read the next page to find out.