back to article Mazda and Toyota join forces on Linux-based connected car platform

Mazda and Toyota are working together on a Linux-based connected car navigation and entertainment system, according to reports. Toyota's Entune in-car infotainment platform is a one-stop shop for all your in-car functions: hands-free phonecalls over Bluetooth, music streaming, satnav and so on. You can even bellow at Apple’s …

  1. AMBxx Silver badge

    3 years of supported apps?

    Sorry, but I need a car to last longer than that. Is anybody out there working on some sort of open-source interface so that we can choose what we want to use and upgrade at will? Bit like you used to be able to do with a car radio?

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: 3 years of supported apps?

      It does seem odd that car manufacturers dance to Google and Apple's tune. It would make a lot of sense for vehicle manufacturers to form an alliance that lays down technical standards that phones must adhere to function in their cars and not the other way around.

      1. David 138

        Re: 3 years of supported apps?

        If car manufacturers where capable of producing a decent system it would have already been done. They just produce half backed attempts and support nothing. The never get updated, they never really work with your phone that will.

    2. Updraft102 Silver badge

      Re: 3 years of supported apps?

      Used to?

      Does that mean car radios are not in new cars at all anymore?

      I wouldn't buy a car without the ability to upgrade that as I see fit, and by "upgrade" I mean removing the old one and sliding in the new one. Tactile buttons can be operated by feel without looking away from the road; touchscreens, not so much. Keep them out of the car if you want me to consider it.

      The more I hear about new cars, the more I realize I'll never buy a new one again. I... don't want any of this crap they're putting in there. I don't want a car that's connected, that has any kind of communication ability with anything anywhere. Don't like OBD II. Don't like new laptops, don't like smartphones, don't like smart TVs (or anything else "smart" or IoT), don't like Windows 10... it's like the entire tech world decided to put out only crap from now on.

      Grumble... to hell with the 2000s, I'm going back to the 1990s...

      1. Anonymous Blowhard

        Re: 3 years of supported apps?

        "Don't like OBD II"

        So you'd prefer to be held to ransom by a manufacturer's proprietary interface to diagnose problems with your car? Unless you want to go back to carburettors and dumb (no anti-lock) brakes (why not go the whole hog and abandon disc brakes too) you need a way to talk to the car's systems and using the same interface makes it easier for non-franchise dealers to work with vehicles.

        "to hell with the 2000s, I'm going back to the 1990s"

        OBDII was introduced in the 1990s...

        1. alpine

          Re: 3 years of supported apps?

          I've always thought that steering tillers should never have replaced those nasty wheel things you have to tuck into your lap.

        2. Updraft102 Silver badge

          Re: 3 years of supported apps?

          People diagnosed problems long before there was such a thing as OBD, and it takes more than plugging into a computer to actually diagnose anything. That gives you one data point, but you still have to know how to interpret the data. You can't just plug in and immediately know you need to replace the catastrophic converter. (heh).

          I've never had an OBD II car, nor have I ever been held for ransom by my car's maker. I can go anywhere I want to get it fixed; compared to cars today, it's a marvel of simplicity. Simple cable-controlled throttle, cable-controlled clutch, manual transmission with only the most rudimentary sensors...

          there's nothing in there that requires any marvels of technology for a shop to diagnose, though just as often I have done it myself. I can pull codes from my car's ECU with a three inch piece of wire; beyond that, it's pretty standard automobile diagnostics. I can do a lot just with a simple multimeter.

          That's not to say everything is bad with OBD II, but the government's involvement in determining that ALL cars sold in the US must have this is not good, and that standardized format has led to other stuff I don't like, such as governments demanding to plug things into my car before I get permission to drive it on the road every year. We don't do that where I live, and I'd prefer to keep it that way.

          I don't want a car that logs any data beyond adjustment of the a/f and spark tables; if I don't want to be spied on by Microsoft with Win 10 or Samsung with my TV or Amazon with Alexa or Google with Android, I certainly don't want any data logged about throttle position angles or brake inputs or anything else either. Even if it has to be manually queried by physical contact with the OBD port, it's there, and I don't want it to be. It's even worse if there is connectivity that allow any data about my car (at all) to be transmitted over the air. Do not want. The only radio built into the car should be in a DIN format and be strictly a receiver.

          I know exactly when OBD II was introduced... that would be 1996. I remember opposing it, not that it did any good. The fears that it would lead to the end of the aftermarket modification industry didn't happen, but it has limited choices in a few areas. There were still some of the 90s before OBDII, and even at the end of the 90s, some of the OBDI cars were still fairly current. They're quite old by now, as I well know, and getting older all the time. I don't need a thing in a car that wasn't available then.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: 3 years of supported apps?

            @Updraft102

            Not being a mechanic I have diagnosed and corrected faults in at least two cars saving money. I replaced an EGR valve in one which for what it was would have cost me quite a bit but it was an easy job. (Let's not have the debate on whether I actually needed to replace it though please)

            It's also useful when the engine light comes on so you don't take it to the garage if it's something stupid like the interior lights.

            The codes are pretty easy to read and the internet will tell you what they mean and what else to check to confirm it's right. It'll even tell you how to fix it though you do have to acquire some knowledge as you go, e.g. knowing which cars are similar so you can use videos for them if one isn't available for yours.

            1. Updraft102 Silver badge

              Re: 3 years of supported apps?

              OBDI generates trouble codes too, though, without the data logging capability required by law. That's the part I don't like. Far from being hostage to a carmaker's special equipment as the other poster wrote, I can pull those codes with a three inch length of wire or an unwound paper clip, by jumpering two pins together on the test plug and watching the codes flashed by pulses of the check engine light. It is true that the level of sophistication of the OBDI system is not as great as that as OBDII, but then neither is the complexity of the entire system as a whole.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 3 years of supported apps?

          > Unless you want to go back to carburettors

          Of course I want to go back to having a nice row of carbs.

          1. Steve Graham

            Re: carburettors

            Carburettors suck.

      2. Ed_UK

        Re: 3 years of supported apps?

        "Tactile buttons can be operated by feel without looking away from the road; touchscreens, not so much. Keep them out of the car if you want me to consider it."

        Yes - exactly this! All this touchscreen bollocks in cars should be banned for exactly the same reason that mobile 'phones are banned. Non-tactile means having to take eyes off the road for some seconds of peering, poking and swiping.

        Conversely, the big, fat control knob in Audi/BMW (Volvo & Merc?) had too many levels of nested menus to navigate, but at least they're tactile.

        Maybe somewhere in between? Give us MORE BUTTONS, not fewer.

    3. smudge Silver badge

      Re: 3 years of supported apps?

      Where does is say that? All I can see is that use of the core apps is free for the first three years.

      What El Reg's report doesn't say - but the Autotrader one does - is that Entune uses your own smartphone to connect, so a contract with unlimited data is recommended. You have to register your phone with Entune. I assume you can register more than one phone, for when a vehicle is used, separately, by different drivers.

      There are other car systems - eg BMW's - which have their own SIM.

    4. Kimo

      Re: 3 years of supported apps?

      Based on my experience with the system in my 2013 Prius, 3 years is too long. I just connect my phone to bluetooth and ignore the in-car apps, especially the Bing-connected navigation.

      I only ended up with the satnav enabled car because you can't get a sunroof without it.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: 3 years of supported apps?

        "I only ended up with the satnav enabled car because you can't get a sunroof without it."

        It's the other way around. You need a sunroof to give the satnav an unobstructed view of the sky!

    5. DougS Silver badge

      Phones and cars don't need to cooperate much

      All you really need is a way to play audio through the car's speakers. If the car has a microphone, access that. If you have a couple buttons on the steering wheel, maybe they can be used for answering a call or skipping a song, that sort of thing.

      That's it! The phone should not be capable of displaying anything in the car, at least not in the front seat. Maybe an exception can be made for showing some graphics for turn by turn directions, but it should be illegal to have a car capable of receiving and displaying video (or Facebook, or whatever) on a display located where the driver can see it.

    6. Chemical Bob

      Re: 3 years of supported apps?

      "Sorry, but I need a car to last longer than that."

      Oh, the car will last longer, don't worry about that. But the big question is why in Hell's sphincter does anybody think this connected infotainment crap is a good idea?

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: 3 years of supported apps?

        "Sorry, but I need a car to last longer than that."

        I don't think anyone cares, the car makers shift the vast majority of them on PCP or PCH which usually last 3 years, they don't care after that.

        So upgrades and support are not really a concern.

  2. m0rt Silver badge

    "No button to silence squabbling kids in the back as yet"

    Ok. Hands up how many thought of a rear seat ejector system when reading that sub-heading?

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      @m0rt

      I was thinking more along the lines of a window like in a limo, rolls up and seals the noise from the rear in the rear.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        PAYG MiFi, best investment ive ever made. that along with a pair of USB charging ports and we are gravy. before the roaming changes this year we used to run a three sim too which worked abroad in europe, didnt hear a peep from the kids on long journeys.

      2. Dazed and Confused

        With an option to feed some knock-out gas in to the rear compartment the first time the little buggers ask "are we nearly there yet"

      3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        I was thinking more along the lines of a window like in a limo, rolls up and seals the noise from the rear in the rear.

        And then a button that releases knock-out gas ?

    2. MyffyW Silver badge

      I'll be honest I was thinking of /dev/null

      1. m0rt Silver badge

        @MyffyW

        I can't tell if that is horrifying or funny...

        1. chivo243 Silver badge

          Re: @MyffyW

          @m0rt

          I don't know why I'm almost crying... am I horrified or tickled?

          /dev/null incredible storage, a bitch to find anything.

    3. chivo243 Silver badge
      Happy

      @m0rt

      On second thought, the ejector seat does sound like a very good idea... I've just arrived home ;-/ I thought I was done managing chaos for the day

  3. Daedalus Silver badge

    Blast from the past

    So a 10-year old girl sits in the driver's seat, says "I know this! It's Linux!" and drives off (pursued by velociraptors).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Blast from the past

      > "I know this! It's Linux!" and drives off (pursued by velociraptors)

      But your entertainment will consist of a CD-ROM.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Blast from the past

        I like the screen on my car display,

        I don't want it taking back to something one step up from an etch a sketch - Linux - ewwwwww

        Prepares for the usual diatribe from the diarrhoea tribe

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Meh

    "hands-free phonecalls over Bluetooth, music streaming, satnav and so on. You can even bellow at Apple’s Siri after button-mashing your steering wheel while doing the supermarket run...."

    So everything that can be done now on a basic bluetooth enabled system then?

    Been doing this for 4 years now....

  5. S4qFBxkFFg

    Please Stop

    Pointless memo to the car manufacturers:

    The drivers' and passengers' devices will be newer, probably more powerful, more likely to have security updates, and have a greater chance of containing apps and data that the owners actually care about.

    You are hardware manufacturers, you will fail hard at producing software people want to use.

    If you wanted to do something useful, concentrate on allowing the vehicle screen/speakers/inputs to serve whichever device(s) the driver selects. Provide power, pointer movements, keystrokes, and sensor data. Accept video and audio.

    For comedy value, submit your software to Google/Apple/Whoever and see how many people actually use it.

    1. Daedalus Silver badge

      Re: Please Stop

      Noooooooo! There's way too much distraction in the cab already. Anything that requires you to look away from the road is *dangerous*. There's too much designeritis even on the physical controls now. Knobs that rotate endlessly to change volume/fan speed/temperature, likewise up/down buttons that mean you have to look at the readout you're upping or downing. At least the Japanese manufacturers still have their heads screwed on right, so their cars feature knobs with hard stops and tactile clicks. In the US the designers have, as usual, gone overboard (probably over the objections of the engineers) in the fruitless pursuit of coolness. Giving them touch screens to play with is a literally fatal mistake.

      Accidents are up these past few years. Distraction is being blamed: mostly phones yes, but what about the dash controls? Auto makers are curiously silent on the subject.

      1. chivo243 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Please Stop

        Anything that requires you to look away from the road is *dangerous*.

        ^ this and cannot stress this enough.

        I've recently driven a new car with all the bells and whistles. It's like being in a Loony Toons cartoon. New bluetooth device detected... not paired with this system. Please enable pairing for seamless hands fr %&$#$@^&%$

      2. Updraft102 Silver badge

        Re: Please Stop

        "Knobs that rotate endlessly to change volume/fan speed/temperature, likewise up/down buttons that mean you have to look at the readout you're upping or downing."

        Absolutely this. My older American car has all of the tactile features; I can operate all of it without looking at the controls, from the stereo to the climate control to anything else. I rented an American car a couple of weeks ago, though, and so much of it was tied into the touchscreen control; it was to me impossible to try to operate the radio even while moving, if I wanted to be as certain as possible of not running into a pole or something like that. No tactile feedback on any of the controls and a LCD display that can be hard to read in certain angles of the sun... this is more advanced than my decades-old car where I could do it all by feel?

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Please Stop

      "You are hardware manufacturers, you will fail hard at producing software people want to use."

      My company car, 2 or 3 cars back, had a special connector which, in conjunction with the line-in 3.5mm jack and a special cable (supplied) allowed me to control some version of iPod from the steering wheel controls. Except it didn't work with the just released newer iPod. Not being an Apple user, I just used the Line-in with a portable CD player that played MP3 files. Current car just has a USB port so pendrive media can be played and controlled from the steering wheel controls. At least that ought to be a bit more future proof than a propriety connector.

  6. frank ly Silver badge

    Timing

    Is it too early to start talking about "the year of Linux on the dashboard".

    1. Admiral Grace Hopper

      Re: Timing

      It certainly isn't, but as I came here to make the same gag I may be biased.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Timing

      Possibly. One of the things that has traditionally held Linux back is its lack of driver support.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Timing

      Not at all, it would be a pretty silly looking car with windows on the dashboard.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. alain williams Silver badge

    If I don't want any of it ...

    will it still play the radio and CDs without needing to pollute my 'phone with some privacy destroying app ?

  8. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
    Unhappy

    OFF

    Please, for the love of all that is good in the world, include an OFF function for any kind of remote connectivity to/from our future cars.

  9. tiggity Silver badge

    The explosion of electronic junk gets worse and worse.

    e.g. I used to be able to adjust the car clock via a simple manual device on the dashboard.

    Now its hidden via umpteen layers of electronic menu that require weird combinations of pressing various indicators and push buttons on them, and so "intuitive" that read of manual required to change most things, so end result is I just don't bother and onboard time just drifts further away from the correct time

    If I want to listen to the radio then I prefer a dedicated (& replaceable) hardware "radio unit" (with the benefit of local traffic news cutting in when I'm on long journeys)

    As for non radio music, hardware "radio unit" will typically play CD / allow MP£ player to be used as input so no apps needed.

    As for Sat Nav, cheaper to buy a dedicated Sat Nav with free lifetime map updates (or use freebie mobile phone app with maps loaded in advance so no connectivity needed) than pay manufactuers huge markup for map updates on their inbuilt Sat Nav.

    I cannot be alone in wanting a basic car, where dross like this is *only* available as an optional extra, if you want to fritter away cash on "improving" a base model car, then maybe better shock absorbers, better brakes, proximity sensors or similar kit that actually makes the driving / parking experience better, rather than app tat.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      True story:

      Went to a Ford dealership to buy a new car.

      Asked the for base model, no extras, no I don't want that, no, just the base model, honestly, just the base model, is that the base model, no, just the base model, etc.

      Got shown to a car, after much upselling.

      Touchscreen in-car entertainment, climate, bluetooth phone connection with Internet / emergency message alert if the airbag goes off, text message reader, voice recognition, satnav, etc. etc. etc. electronic parking brake, electronic dashboard, electronic tyre pressure sensor, electronic side-mirrors (auto-fold, etc.), electronic cruise control, etc. etc. etc. TWENTY ONE BUTTONS on the steering wheel to navigate two different screens (entertainment/dashboard HUD).

      "No, I said the base model."

      "Sir," said the salesman dryly, "this IS the base model".

      I'm afraid that other manufacturer's were no different. £50 on a tablet/satnav built into the console is lost in the noise and apparently what people want. Didn't come with a fecking spare tyre, though.

      1. SniperPenguin

        You sir, need to buy a Dacia then ;-)

        Oh, and the spare tyre loss has been around for years now. No other reason than it helps the emissions headline figures for weight etc.

        1. Updraft102 Silver badge

          I wonder how much weight you could dump by getting rid of all that extraneous stuff... the lightweight "doughnut" spares don't weigh much, so it probably wouldn't be too hard to lose enough to make it a wash if the spare is added.

          Is there at least a provision for the spare if you should choose to add one?

      2. Dazed and Confused

        Re: Base models

        I'm pretty sure Caterham will still sell you a car without any of those things. They also have the benefit of not having rear seats for the little darlings to pester you from.

      3. Chemical Bob

        "£50 on a tablet/satnav built into the console is lost in the noise and apparently what people want."

        No, not what *people* want at all. I've noticed for decades that cars seem to be built to cater to car salesmen. These creatures look like us and even ape some human behaviors, but are definitely not people.

        1. Updraft102 Silver badge

          "No, not what *people* want at all. I've noticed for decades that cars seem to be built to cater to car salesmen."

          That reminds me of a discussion I read on a UI blog about how Apple devices, since the demise of Steve Jobs, seem to be oriented not toward advanced or even beginning users, but toward prospective users. Things like disappearing scroll indicators to let the user know where he is in the document result in an uncluttered UI that probably looks really simple and easy to a prospective buyer in the Apple Store, but once that person gets the device home and starts to use it, he begins to notice that these features inhibit his use of the device.

          I haven't been able to find that blog again, and I don't remember the name of it, but it is one of those things that had the "ring of truth" to it... I wonder if it is helpful to Apple's bottom line by promoting new sales to former non-Apple customers, or if it does more harm by driving more seasoned users to consider other platforms. I don't think ALL Apple users are cultists who would use Apple devices even if Apple screwed them up so much that it was nearly impossible to get anything done.

      4. wallaby

        Only 21 !!!!!

        Id want more than that, and if they are lit with blue LED even better :)

    2. Andytug

      Clock in the menu - that's a backward step

      My 11 year old Vauxhall sets the clock automatically via RDS on the radio, no user input needed (surely a modern one could take the time from your mobile?).

      All this reminds me of something I read in CAR magazine (I think) when ABS was becoming more mainstream, when customers were asked if they would prefer ABS or a sunroof, the majority wanted the sunroof!

      Thankfully ABS is pretty much universal now.

  10. inmypjs Silver badge

    Terrible idea

    Integrated infotainment systems are a liability. They will be ridiculously expensive to repair if they break and obsolete long before the rest of the car is.

    My car had the stereo integrated with AC controls. The separate AC control and bit of plastic to covert to a double DIN standard mount cost more than the double DIN head unit I installed. I suppose I should be happy replacement was an option.

  11. SniperPenguin

    If you don't support Android Auto / CarPlay (two well established and therefore expected standards), then I won't be buying your car - period.

    I don't want to have to relearn ICE in an era when it simply is no longer necessary.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Interesting. Any car with Android Auto or CarPlay is automatically off my list.

  12. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    To be fair to Mazda...

    I have a 2015 CX-5 and it's all terribly well made and elegant. All of the external power/aux and USB ports are discreetly tidied away in convenient locations, and it all just works - apart from the voice recognition which is hilariously awful. The only other thing that bugs me is that the OSD for the DAB radio doesn't line break correctly - so you get half of a song title on one line, and the rest on the next. Something like this...

    "Now playing : Bruce Springst

    een : Born in the USA."

  13. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    systemd

    I tried to change my radio presets. The audio went dead, the battery caught fire, the tires went flat and the nav system directed me to the middle of the Australian outback.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: systemd

      Told you not to use a username starting with 0.

  14. Oneman2Many

    All those people complaining about connectivity, its an EU requirement eCall that from April 2018, new cars can call emergency services and report their position in the event of an accident. This will require a SIM in the car plus GPS.

  15. Kev99

    Oh boy! Let's add more BS to the center stack to distract the numbnuts who can't live without their noses glued to their smart phones. Too bad the phones are far smarter than the drivers.

  16. iTheHuman

    Wow, way to know your strengths.

    Android Auto sucks, but I'd prefer it over entune.

    They should just stick with Apple & Android until Android Automobile is released. That, or toss in agl with support for apple and Android.

    1. SloppyJesse

      "They should just stick with Apple & Android until Android Automobile is released. That, or toss in agl with support for apple and Android."

      Their current offerings and probably based on linux and gpl'd libraries. Would be better for them to focus on a solid media system <-> car interface and release the media side source and build code.

      At least then there'd be a chance of getting bug fixes to the media player - looking at you Peugeot - or systems that recognise older ipods - and you Nissan.

      1. iTheHuman

        It's possible that's it's Linux based but my problem is that, I fear, they are taking on unnecessary development.

        Take agl (or genivi -- they had a nice stack for media interoperability), skin it, and call it a day.

        In fact, it looks like they did deploy agl very recently.

        http://www.electronicdesign.com/automotive/toyota-including-automotive-grade-linux-platform-2018-camry

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lexus (part of Toyota) already uses Linux on the navigation thing. It looks like maps from Navtec and software from Here. The screen is also used for telephone, audio and several car settings. But I'm glad it also has proper buttons for temperature and aircon.

    The navigation looks a bit dated, the voices are nice (better than Waze on the phone, annoying accent)

    New maps are expensive and out of date, traffic info is weird.

    The hardware is available. It can use bluetooth from the phone for the internet. So maybe just a decent software update so it can use more up-to-date maps, real time traffic info or just

    a mirror function for the phone screen and a place to put the thing.

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