GS vs. GS Hybrid

Yelp, Bing, Facebook Places, and more—meet the next version of Lexus Enform.

So what’s so special about the optional, next-generation Lexus Enform, which debuts this year with the 2013 GS? Three words: apps, apps, and apps.

Lexus Enform[1][2], as veteran Lexus owners know, is Lexus’ telematics technology—a collection of services that allow the vehicle to communicate with a 24/7 response center (Safety Connect), get directions from a live representative (Destination Assist), and plan itineraries and organize points of interest in conjunction with a desktop computer (eDestination).

This new version, however, offers a suite of mobile apps[3]—each appropriate to automotive travel—that essentially equips 2013 GS owners with online access via their cars.

“We now have a separate channel for incoming and outbound data between the vehicle and the Internet, via the driver’s smartphone,” says Paul Williamsen, National Manager of the Lexus College. “When we launch the GS, we anticipate seven apps for online connectivity, with a potential in the future of up to 18.”

So which seven apps can drivers with the next-generation Lexus Enform system use in their vehicles?

Bing: Use Microsoft’s web-search engine to look up points of interest such as restaurants, landmarks, and businesses. Bing can be voice-activated.

iHeartRadio: Access more than 750 AM and FM radio stations around the U.S., including commercial-free stations and artist-hosted stations. iHeartRadio can also be voice-activated. Find movie times for local theaters, as well as ratings, reviews, and plot summaries, and purchase tickets online for 150 theater chains, including AMC Theaters. The app can be voice-activated.

Yelp: Access Yelp, the portal to crowd-sourced reviews of businesses like restaurants, hotels, stores, and more.

PANDORA®: The popular web-based streaming music service “learns” what you like, and creates playlists tailored to your tastes from its library of more than 700,000 songs. PANDORA can be voice-activated.

Facebook Places: If you already use Facebook Places, then you know how it allows you to check in from an address/locale, which alerts your Facebook friends to your whereabouts.

OpenTable: Search for restaurants by time, date, cuisine, and price range, and make real-time reservations at more than 200,000 restaurants nationwide. Also, rewards points are offered that can be redeemed at member restaurants. OpenTable can be voice-activated.

These in-car apps—although controlled on the available navigation screen or, where applicable, via voice activation—essentially run off your own smartphone (carrier charges and restrictions may apply). To use them in the car, drivers must download the latest Lexus Enform app to a compatible smartphone (iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry models work) and register. They’ll also need to sync their phones with their 2013 GS via Bluetooth.

Related: Tips for connecting your phone to Bluetooth

Note that a complimentary, one-year Lexus Enform trial is included with the purchase of the 2013 GS; after one year, access-charges apply (with the exception of PANDORA, which remains complimentary, although carrier charges may apply depending on your usage and phone plan). Also note that vehicles equipped with the first-generation Lexus Enform system cannot be updated to the newest version.

The next-generation Lexus Enform will also be available with the 2013 Lexus LX, although not with a 12.3-inch display screen.

Legal Disclaimer

[1] Contact with the Lexus Enform® response center is dependent upon the telematics device being in operative condition, cellular connection availability, navigation map data and GPS satellite signal reception, which can limit the ability to reach the response center or receive support. Enrollment and Telematics Subscription Service Agreement required. One-year trial subscription included only with new vehicle purchase of Lexus Enform-equipped vehicles. Additional subscription terms available; charges vary by subscription term selected.

[2] Lexus Enform® premium services Destination Assist and eDestination will function in the contiguous United States and Washington, D.C. These services may also function in Hawaii and limited areas of Alaska for vehicles that contain map data for those states. They will not function outside the United States.

[3] Always be sure to obey traffic regulations, maintain awareness of your surroundings and all road and traffic conditions. Select apps use a large amount of data and you are responsible for all data charges. Apps and services vary by phone and carrier.