Tech Feature Friday: Easy Bluetooth Pairing in a Toyota Yaris
Connecting a phone doesn’t require any effort, or even a password.
I’ve found that one of the most frustrating aspects of in-car technology is Bluetooth, specifically pairing a phone, but also sometimes accessing all available Bluetooth features, such as downloading the phone’s address book. It’s gotten much better, but overall it’s still more difficult than it needs to be.
But don’t take my word for it: The most recent J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study found that the number of owner-reported problems with “factory-installed hands-free communication devices” jumped by 137 percent during the past four years. Hands-free devices not recognizing commands has become the most reported problem among those surveyed.
That’s why it’s rare to come across a Bluetooth system like the one in the 2012 Toyota Yaris SE, which makes pairing your phone effortless -- and doesn’t even include the whole password process.
The Bluetooth specification behind this is Secure Simple Pairing, although on the Yaris the feature is called Easy Pairing. Even though the display on the low-end radio in the Yaris flashed a password (for devices that aren't compatible with Simple Secure Pairing), I never had to enter it, and the phone paired automatically.
Simple Secure Pairing will inevitably become more prevalent in new cars, though with the technology lag that affects automotive design, it could take several years.
I recently tested a 2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 that also had the spec, and all that it required was for me to confirm that the password shown on my phone matched the one on the car's display. But even that required one more step than in the Yaris, which once again proves that sometimes you can get tech in less expensive cars that is as good as, or better than, the tech in luxury models.
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