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Apps and Telematics Services

2013 Lexus LS600h L: Plenty of Tech, but Short on Value
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Lexus calls its suite of telematics and apps Enform. The package includes Bing search, iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com, OpenTable, Pandora, Yelp, and Facebook Places. Accessing the software requires an Android or iOS device connected to the LS600h through Bluetooth, with a companion app installed on the device. While some vehicles simply exploit an accessory mode that requires each app to be installed on your smartphone or tablet, Enform works independently of the standalone apps.

Instead, it requires you to register for an Enform account, and then link the various apps accounts separately. From there, you simply sign into Enform in the companion app. That's it. The vehicle merely uses your mobile device for its data connection. Of course, this has its advantages and drawbacks. As a pro, you don’t need all of the software composing Enform installed on your phone. But that also means you can't just park your car, take your device with you, and continue listening to the same song.

Even still, the apps work as advertised, albeit at varying performance levels, depending on your data connection. I’m on T-Mobile and noticed slower-than-expected loading/connecting. But once the music starts, I didn't run into any drops or buffering issues.

2014 Lexus LS 600h L: Apps

The Enform suite does require occasional updates though, which can become bothersome since the process is slow. Lexus relies on the Tweddle Connect API. Unfortunately, the process isn’t particularly elegant; it downloads packages over the air, rendering the app suite inaccessible in the meantime. I'd prefer to see updates bundled with the Enform companion app and transferred from there instead of relying on the varying speeds of 3G and LTE, all the while burning through your data allowance.

I consider the app suite to be interesting. I like using Pandora in the car, but the other titles aren't as vital to me. Sure, it’s nice to have access to Yelp reviews, purchase movie tickets, make dinner reservations, or search for points of interest through Bing. But the vehicle can’t be in motion. It's far easier to have my wife perform those duties as I drive. At least Lexus doesn't charge for the ability to essentially tether your phone to the car, so we have to appreciate its fortitude in resisting the temptation to nickel and dime us.

Data Services And Safety Connect

Enform includes telematics and safety assurance services for those of you willing to pay almost $265 annually (the first year is free when you buy the car new). Paying that fee opens up a useful destination assistance service to you, which we'll cover in greater detail on the next page, along with eDestination services that let you plan trips online and then send them to the car. Most important, the Safety Connect adds roadside assistance, emergency assistance through an SOS button mounted between the sunroof controls, a stolen vehicle tracker, and automatic collision notification.

If you only want Safety Connect, you can purchase those peace-of-mind services for just under $140 a year. Of course, that leaves us wondering what the extra $125 pays for. The answer isn't particularly savory: you get the aforementioned eDestination service and access to the destination assistance line, which is ridiculous. Previously, the costlier package was required in order to use the data-sucking Enform app suite. But Lexus subsequently made it free to use without any subscription. So, unless you use eDestination or the destination assistance service regularly, there’s little reason to pay $265 per year instead of buying the $140 package.

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