Toyota's European Touch Life infotainment system is the first platform to allow true smartphone replication on the in-dash display.
The new system takes advantage of the Car Connectivity Consortium's MirrorLink (formerly Nokia Terminal Mode), which lets drivers and passengers access all of their smartphone apps from a car's in-dash touch screen. However, there are some limitations. True smartphone mirroring is only available on Nokia phones equipped with the Symbian Belle operating system. The Nokia Car Mode app lets drivers access the device's telephony, voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation, and audio entertainment functions while the car is in use, but prevent them from using all other applications until the car is parked.
Replication of an iPhone isn't as robust. The system uses the Application Launcher app to limit integration with Toyota Touch Life to specific apps, such as Stitcher, Twitter, Facebook, and other Internet radio and news apps. But unlike U.S. iPhone app integrations, Toyota lets drivers access Garmin StreetPilot. For liability (and possibly financial) reasons, the majority of auto manufacturers are blocking navigation app integrations and requiring drivers to use the OEM's GPS system. No information on integration of Android phones was given.
BMW, Audi, and GM also leverage MirrorLink technology in their new electronics platforms. But what you're seeing is a stripped-down version of MirrorLink. Because of U.S. liability issues, OEMs are reluctant to give drivers the full functionality of smartphone mirroring integrated with their products.
But less litigious European drivers are given the technology's full capabilities, and will probably serve as bellwethers in the car connectivity arena to determine if this technology is safe enough to introduce into the U.S. market. So European Toyota drivers: don't ruin it for the rest of us who want to use Google Maps in our cars.
Toyota Touch Life is available on European Toyota Avensis, Prius, and Verso models.