Given how well the display and layout of functions found on modern smartphones works, it's surprising that automakers haven't turned to companies like Apple and Android in an effort to improve the user experience.

While they work on that, there's a short term solution, thanks to Toyota.

We now know, via Engadget, that Toyota is cutting out the middle man and launching the Touch Life infotainment system. Dubious name aside it's set to bring your smartphone's great functionality into your car's infotainment display.

This means you'll be able to access all your phone's functions via the central 7-inch touch screen and the system even allows the steering wheel-mounted controls to be used, for increased safety while driving.

Apple iPhone users will be able to download a free "Applicaton Launcher" app to connect to Touch Life and Nokia users on the Symbian Belle operating system can use the industry standard "MirrorLink" connectivity protocol. Support for other phones will follow.

Touch Life will be making its appearance first in the iQ minicar in Europe (soon to be the Scion iQ), but is set to expand to other models, with an increased functionality version called Toyota Touch Pro due in the Toyota Prius hybrid.

Who needs a smartphone-like infotainment system when you can use the smartphone you already have?