Mobile apps: Necessary, nice-to-have, or frippery?

Discussion in 'Prime Main Forum (2017-Current)' started by 2005dmny, Nov 26, 2019.

  1. 2005dmny

    2005dmny Junior Member

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    all --

    I'm almost a month into a new 2020 Prius Prime LE (purchased when someone totaled -- for insurance purposes -- our old trusty 2005). So just now getting a little deeper into the specific needs and quirks of this car. Will doubtless have more questions. But the one that's bugging me right now is:

    It's unclear to me whether the mobile apps -- Entune and the Toyota app associated with Connected Services -- are essential, nice-to-have, or fluff.

    Is Entune for anything other than entertainment? Not particularly interested in that aspect, but will listen to advice from those who use it or know of any other capabilities/features.

    It's also unclear if the Toyota app is necessary, particularly as far as the built-in service and safety features are concerned. Do folks find this useful in some other way I wouldn't necessarily think of?

    Caveat: I generally don't use mobile for much, am stingy about cellular data, and tend to keep location services turned off. I would be the kind of person who would never even connect his phone to the car without a good reason.

    So: Teach me, persuade me, or warn me off. :)
     
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  2. Matt1984

    Matt1984 Junior Member

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    I am curious about this, too. The Toyota app literally does nothing but shows me a stock photo of my vehicle. The Entune app needs to be opened to use the Entune functions of the vehicle, but these features are useless to me since I am using Apple CarPlay.
     
  3. 2005dmny

    2005dmny Junior Member

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    Matt1984 --

    Thanks for your reply. (Not sure why I didn't get the usual email notification for it. <sigh>)

    Actually surprised not to have any other traffic on this question. I've certainly gotten plenty of email from Toyota and Sirius, among others, about getting connected.

    Maybe no one uses these? Or else everyone does and thinks it's kind of a dumb noob question? :)
     
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  4. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    some use sirius, what else is offered on 2020 prime? i thought most apps were deleted with alexa
     
  5. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    Just pure garbage. I never downloaded app to my phone, and never used it on my car.
     
  6. 2005dmny

    2005dmny Junior Member

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    So those Toyota Connect service / rescue / find-car features work with no smartphone requirement? How does the car communicate with the "mothership" (so to speak)?
     
  7. CharlesH

    CharlesH CA HOV Decal #5 on former PiP

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    With Safety Connect (now called Toyota Connect?) there is a cell phone built into the car that is connected to car systems ("telematics"). At least in the past, it had nothing to do with the owner's smartphone or any of the media stuff. To access the "telematics" info, you did use a cell phone app, but the app was talking to a server somewhere that connected to the car, not to the car directly. The user's smartphone was used for media stuff talking to the car over USB or Bluetooth (short range). Somewhere I heard that the built-in cell phone would take over some of the media stuff, like with Alexa or Apple Car Play, but others can clarify on what is done by the built-in cell phone, and what is done on the user's smartphone.
     
    #7 CharlesH, Dec 3, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019
  8. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    As explained above, the car basically has a built-in cell phone. However, AFAIK, this only applies to Limited trim which was Advanced trim in previous years. Your PRIME LE base model (previous Plus trim) does not have this telematics. Neither does XLE (previous Premium trim). So, those apps are TOTALLY useless for lower two trims. Also, my understanding is that for 2020 Limited trim, the PRIME app that allows remotely turn on the climate control and also check the charge status is no longer available, making this app useless for many Limited owner as well. Oh, and Safety Connect complimentary subscription is only good for 3 years, after that, you have to pay an annual fee to Toyota to keep this feature.
     
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  9. Old Bear

    Old Bear Senior Member

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    I don't know what remote features are still available on the 2020 Prime, but it's my understanding that the remote feature set is greatly reduced.

    I am not a big smartphone user -- my phone is several years old and is running a very old version of the Android operating system. I rarely turn on "mobile data" because it quickly depletes the phone's battery, but I do connect via WiFi at home and elsewhere.

    The Entune suite on the 2017 Prime Advanced offers many features, some of which are extremely useful, some just convenient, and some of no particular importance. The feature which I use most is the "ECO dashboard" which keeps me aware of my driving pattern in a simple and amusing manner.

    Remote charge management is very useful because the car sends alerts when it's near my house but not plugged in. Sometimes I pull into my garage and get involved in un-loading groceries and stuff, forgetting to connect the Prime to its EVSE charger. I'll be in our kitchen ten minutes later and will received a reminder on my phone.

    Similarly, the Prime sends out an alert when it's fully charged. This was particularly helpful over the Thanksgiving holiday when we were staying at a place that did not have a charger. We were able to unofficially use a free charger at an adjacent complex but did not want to leave our Prime there for more time than necessary both out of courtesy to other EV/PHEV owners and not wanting to wear out our welcome. The Prime would let us know when charging was complete and I could walk a couple of hundred feet to retrieve the car and re-park it in our own complex.

    The charge management feature also lets me check with the car and see its charging status including how many miles of range it has at the moment and how long it will take until fully charged.

    The 2017 Entune app also provides a way to locate the car which can be helpful for many purposes, not the least of which is theft recovery.

    Remote climate pre-conditioning is a nice feature, particularly if your charging location is slightly distant from where you are. For example. if you park in your company's parking lot and would like to have your car at a comfortable temperature by the time you walk to it from your office. (Keep in mind that pre-conditioning only works if the Prime is plugged into a charging station. It's designed to use power from the charging station rather than your traction battery to pre-condition the cabin, thus reducing the load on your battery once you get on the road.) We've used the feature in the winter to turn on climate when leaving a restaurant before walking several blocks to the parking garage where we left the car.

    Finally, the Entune suite contains several easy-to-use convenience features which are less necessary but nice: the ability to check sports scores of your list of teams, to check stock prices for your list of companies. These features are activated by a single touch on the vehicle display or, when not in the car, on the cellphone screen. (Entune used to have links to ordering movie tickets or online streaming entertainment, but Toyota dropped their relationship with the third-party providers of these services. Probably just as well because I don't think many people used them.)

    With the exception of the features which interact with the Prime (vehicle location, charge management, remote climate, etc.) most of the Entune apps can be accomplished using popular cellphone apps. But I've found that having the vehicle interactive features is one of the best parts of owning the Prime. Without them, it would be like any plug-in car being driven by anyone, with or without a smartphone.
     
    #9 Old Bear, Dec 3, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019
  10. AJDL

    AJDL Junior Member

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    So does it mean that 2020 prime limited does not have any app support that we had in 2017 advanced model? I just bought 2020 yesterday. To my disappointment I realized this today that entune 3.0 does not have any meaningful app, I loved the remote climate, eco dashboard, charge notification and vehicle finder, now we don’t have anything . I also noticed that Toyota app only shows the cat picture, it does not show gas gauge or the mileage driven etc.

    but there website shows that 2020 prime limited has all the apps.
     
  11. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    correct, entune is no more
     
  12. AJDL

    AJDL Junior Member

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    I guess entune is there, its called entune 3.0, but it does not contain those 5 apps I mentioned.
    1. Remote Climate
    2. Vehicle finder
    3. Charge Management
    4. Charging Station map
    5. Echo Dashboard

    Surprisingly their website still says that Prius Prime 2020 Limited has all these apps

    Entune Premium JBL Audio With 11.6-In. HD Multimedia Display – Prius Prime Apps

    My question is on the Toyota app too.. This shows that when you register your vehicle, then I would see my vehicle and Odometer reading, gas tank gauge etc, but I only see the vehicle, nothing else!!

    Toyota App
     
  13. CharlesH

    CharlesH CA HOV Decal #5 on former PiP

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    This lack of the remote apps in the 2020 Limited (Advanced) is sufficient for me to not even consider buying a 2020 Prime. Apparently, there was a tradeoff of some sort (whether legal or technical, I don't know) to get either the remote apps or Apple Car Play, and Car Play won.

    A couple of days ago my navigationally-challenged wife got lost at night driving our 2017 Prime by herself in an unfamiliar town, and I rescued her using the Vehicle Finder app to guide her to the desired destination. We would have been SOL without it. Street signs were pretty much invisible at night.

    Of course, if one just went to the dealer to get a Prime, one would have no idea that this functionality was removed from the 2020, until you bought the car and discovered that they were not there.:mad:
     
    #13 CharlesH, Dec 6, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2019
  14. noonm

    noonm Senior Member

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    I believe the general consensus is that whole Entune/Toyota suite of apps are 90% garbage (except for a few such as the vehicle finder, remote charging management, etc).

    I personally use both a tablet and my smart phone (on mounts) to handle all of my car-related app needs.
     
  15. AJDL

    AJDL Junior Member

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    I was thinking that few major features I am missing
    1. Charging - I have shared charging at work, I used to get the alert when my car is charged. So I didn’t need to make multiple trips.
    2. Vehicle finder
    3. Remote climate, this helped in winter.

    can you get these in any other way?
     
  16. Tha_Ape

    Tha_Ape Active Member

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    To clarify, Pre-conditioning is separate and requires being connected to a charger. You do not need Entune for this, but you do have to set the time you want it to turn on.

    You need Entune for Remote Climate and can use it whenever you want, as long as the doors are locked and you have sufficient charge in the traction battery, you do not have to be connected to a charger. With remote climate, you can turn it on and it will display what temperature it is in your car and let you turn on the front and/or rear defrosters.

    I'm honestly not sure what happens if you activate Remote Climate after your car is charged and still tethered to a charging cable. If its fully charged, will it re-engage the power from the cable to power the A/C or just use whats stored in the traction battery?
     
  17. sam spade 2

    sam spade 2 Senior Member

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    I agree with that......no matter what the brand of vehicle. Just more dangerous distractions.
    Wait.....what ?? Does she NOT have a phone capable of a GPS app ??
    If not, NOW is the time.
     
  18. CharlesH

    CharlesH CA HOV Decal #5 on former PiP

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    I got her an iPhone to try to drag her into the 21st centurty, but the only thing she knows how to do on it is make phone calls. She is somewhat technically challenged, as many people in the early boomer generation are.
     
  19. Old Bear

    Old Bear Senior Member

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    Thanks for your very helpful clarification. I was careless in conflating the "pre-conditioning" and "remote climate" functions. Definitely sloppy posting on my part.

    I believe that I have been able to use the Remote Climate feature from my cellphone when the car was fully charged but still connected to a ChargePoint charging station. However, I don't know if the ChargePoint station reactivated or not -- or if the Prime considered itself no longer connected.

    On occasion, Mrs. Bear and I will park in a garage about a block away from a nearby theater. We will plug the Prime into a ChargePoint station on an upper floor of the un-heated garage and spend the next couple of hours seeing a performance. At the end of the play, I will use by cellphone to activate Remote Climate before leaving the theater. This is a slow process and the phone always takes one or two minutes before acknowledging that it has managed to contact the vehicle and activate the climate system. We then walk back to the garage, stand in line at the cashier station to pay, wait for the elevator, and eventually get to the car and find it warm. Because of the time it takes to get to the car, the Prime's heat-pump usually has shut down by the time we get there.

    The last few time that we've been to this theater, I've been lucky and found free on-street parking. (Mrs Bear says I have good "parking karma.") And, although it's getting a little chilly around here, I've not tried using the Remote Climate because I've been reluctant to deplete the Prime's battery before our trip home.
     
  20. sam spade 2

    sam spade 2 Senior Member

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    I'm right there too.
    But that "affliction" is curable......by learning to use those apps that are really useful and ignoring the fluff.
    One at a time.
    GPS can be a life saver at times.
     
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