Why Do I Have to Relaunch the Entune App When I Get in My Car?

As you’re likely aware, the Highlander’s audio system (on the XLE and above) uses the Entune App Suite to access certain online services — e.g., Pandora and iHeartRadio. Sounds great in principle, but it’s a bit kludgy.

In short, you need to download the Toyota Entune mobile app to your phone. This acts as a go-between to let your head unit communicate with the phone and access the internet connection via BlueTooth.

In isolation, this requirement wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But the problem is that I have to relaunch the mobile app just about every time I get in the car — even if it’s still running in the background from a prior trip.

The primary symptom is pictured below.

Entune App Error Message

Entune app error message… (click image to enlarge)

So yeah. I get an error that says:

“To use the services, an active application needs to be running on your phone.”

The weird thing is that this doesn’t happen every time I get in the car, but it does happen most times. And I can’t really spot a pattern to this behavior, which would help with troubleshooting.

And like I said above, it happens even if the app is still running in the program from a prior session. It’s like the app goes to sleep and can’t be re-awakened without re-opening it.

For the record, this is with an iPhone 5S running iOS 7.0.6 and the Entune mobile app is version — nice numbering system, huh? 😉

Anyway… If you’ve faced similar issues, I’d love to hear about it. And I’d especially love to hear about any possible solutions.

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Complaints & Troubleshooting, Technology & Infotainment
9 comments… add one
  • Sheldon Oct 19, 2014

    At least you can use the Entune app, it is not available to Canadians at all, you can not even use it on a vehicle made for Canada. As well there are fewer colors to choose from as well as interior colors too. Not to mention the radar cruise control, precollission, and lane depature are only available on the Limited Hybrid only. Yes Canada is a smaller market, but since they are all built at the same location why not make them all the same. Yes some of the standards are different, like the Canadian bumpers have to stand a slightly higher speed crash, but I think that is it as the US version also has daytime running lights. I would also think that having just one standard for them to build (Bumpers) would be cheaper in the long run as you would not have to stock 2 different types, not to mention the logistics involved. Just my 2 cents worth, which at today’s exchange rate is only about 1.6 cents US. LOL

    • Michael Oct 20, 2014

      Those are all valid points, but I’d trade Entune for the ability to buy a Hybrid Highlander somewhere below the Limited trim level. This is possible in Canada, but not the USA:


      I’m especially annoyed by this limitation given that they don’t offer a 2nd row bench in the Limited (at least not here in the USA), which is a deal-breaker for us.

  • Andy Feb 20, 2015

    I just attended the new owner seminar offered by my dealer (a really nice dinner and presentation on your new car). During the presentation, the dealer actually said, “Entune is terrible, we recommend that you just don’t use it.”

    • Andy Mar 27, 2015

      Lol@Andy-are you in Bakersfield??? That’s exactly what was said at my new owner event!

  • Rob Dec 22, 2015

    I have a 2016 Tacoma with Entune JBL. My Entune app on my phone will get kicked out to a login screen and there is no predictable pattern to this nonsense. Only disconnected Bluetooth and reconnecting Bluetooth and the Entune app, will fix the connectivity issue. Incoming text messages will come in and the read button will be greyed out and useless only the ignore button is highlighted.

  • CindyH Apr 18, 2016

    I have a 2015 4Runner that locks up like this quite often. If it’s on loud radio you have to listen to loud music until it resets or until I can find a place to stop, turn the truck off, then back on, it resets. It locks up sometimes 2 times in the 7 mile trip to work. I’ve gotten lost because the navigation locked up because once it locks up you have to start all over. I can’t use the voice recognition because no matter what I do it doesn’t understand me (I’ve “trained” it).

  • Richard Fay Sep 20, 2016

    Purchased a 2014 Highlander when they finally were available early fall 2013. Think the car has a ghost in it. Present issue is there use to be a message on the nav screen when low on gas. It basically said you are low on gas do you want me to find a gas station. It worked and was cool. It is now gone. If you know how to get it back – because Toyota apparently does NOT, please, please email me the solution. Other issue – garage door opener does not work even though they say it does. They have even changed the transmitter. Have other Toyota’s that have no problem but the Highlander is a pain. Any idea? I am sure you get way too many inquiries but I could really use some help on these – its the wife’s car and you know what they say, when the wife is not happy – nobody is!

  • D Sep 3, 2017

    Works great in my ’16 Tundra, and I believe I’ve spotted the pattern that would cause Entune app to sometimes need to be re-opened on my iPhone.

    When your iPhone battery hits 20%, and again when it hits 10%, iOS will prompt you to enable “Low Battery Mode”, which will shut down background processes that are not needed. You can also manually engage Low Battery Mode by going to the iOS device settings section, which I will occasionally do first thing in the morning if I know that I have a long day where I might be away from a power source should I otherwise need to recharge my phone.

    I know a few folks that are frequent app-quitters, meaning they habitually double-tap their iOS device’s home button and swipe up to manually kill background apps…

    Either of the two situations above (low battery mode, or app-quitting) would explain why the Entune app would need to be manually restarted once reentering your vehicle. I will keep experimenting, but have noticed that more often than not, for me anyhow, the Entune features work very well. For those of you experiencing issues, I’d recommend a trip to the local Toyota dealer – there are definitely updates available for the Entune systems to solve some known issues.

  • Ken Gilmore Dec 7, 2017

    I just bought a new 2017 Highlander Limited. I’m very disappointed at this point. My 10 year old GMC Acadia has better features. When I use my remote to unlock my doors at night it does not turn the headlights on, just the amber parking lights. I want it to turn my headlights on. No remote start, and no auto windshield wipers. Any answers to these questions?

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