A Step within the Proper Path

Most in-car infotainment programs which might be truly made by the automakers themselves suck. Constructed-in navigation programs really feel a few decade behind Google Maps whereas media-playing interfaces usually look by-product of the Artistic Zen MP3 participant you had as an adolescent as a result of your mother and father didn’t love you adequate to get you an iPod. In the event that they knew what was good for them, carmakers would outsource these things to the precise software program specialists of Silicon Valley. 

With the Polestar 2’s world-first Android Automotive OS implementation, that’s precisely what the Swedish EV maker has finished. Because the title suggests, it’s a car-optimized model of Google’s Android—that’s, the working system utilized by most smartphones that aren’t iPhones—and provides smartphone-style Android apps to handle navigation, media, and messaging on high of the same old car-specific features similar to local weather, parking cameras, and drive modes. 

Chris Tsui

Along with future Polestar fashions, variations of Android Automotive OS can be found in choose Common Motors SUVs—together with the brand new GMC Hummer and Cadillac Lyriq EVs—in addition to the upcoming Honda Accord. 

Polestar Android Automotive OS Evaluation Specs

  • Automotive: 2022 Polestar 2
  • Infotainment display screen measurement: 11.15 inches
  • Instrument display screen measurement: 12.3 inches
  • Quantity knob: Sure
  • Apple CarPlay/Android Auto: Wired
  • Fast take: The way forward for in-car infotainment—if Google can right a number of bugs and shortcomings.


Within the case of the Polestar 2 used for this take a look at, the system is projected from an 11.15-inch touchscreen accompanied by a 12.3-inch instrument display screen. The previous is vertically oriented, additional lending to its massive smartphone-in-a-car vibe. Each shows are fairly sharp and prime quality. 

Chris Tsui

There’s even a touch-sensitive Android-style residence button on the backside together with a bodily quantity knob housing a play/pause button that, loads like the remainder of this automotive, feels very a lot ripped out of Volvo’s elements bin—which isn’t any unhealthy factor. Situated fore of the shifter, the quantity knob strikes with good, weighty detents and incorporates a diamond-like texture that makes it really feel like an ornate, high quality merchandise. 

Buttons on the steering wheel additionally allow you to management the quantity in addition to skip tracks or channels, immediate voice instructions, and management the information displayed on the gauge show. As a bodily house, it’s easy and pretty minimalist however not overly so. A wi-fi cellphone charger situated beneath the touchscreen works as marketed.

Software program

This method’s raison d’etre is, in fact, the built-in Android apps. As an alternative of requiring you to hook up a smartphone each time you’d like to make use of precise smartphone apps (though you’ll be able to nonetheless try this in case you’d actually like—extra on that later), the Polestar is ready to run many of those built-in. Two of probably the most essential apps are, I think, Google Maps and Spotify and they’re certainly each on board right here. 

Constructed-in Google Maps feels a bit extra full-featured than the ultra-simplified Apple CarPlay rendition in that it’s prepared to throw extra information up on the display screen. It’s nearer to the complete cellphone model of Maps—as in, the model you get in your cellphone sans CarPlay or Android Auto—which is appreciated. What’s extra, your entire map might be relayed to the gauge display screen.

Constructed-in Google Maps search outcomes include a prediction as to how a lot battery you will have left upon arrival. Chris Tsui

Constructed-in Spotify, probably as a result of it isn’t an in-house Google joint, isn’t fairly as well-conceived. It principally works as marketed, capable of play tunes and podcasts of your individual selecting and serving up a facsimile of the cellular app customers already know, albeit with Polestar’s orange UI. However, for some purpose, there was no repeat music toggle on the time of testing. So in case you occur to come across an incredible new music that you just’d prefer to spam your self with for the remainder of the drive till it’s not wonderful (no judgment, we’ve all been there), you’re just about caught having to hit the earlier observe button each time. 

(On a associated observe, Polestar’s radio participant doesn’t seem to have the ability to rewind satellite tv for pc radio, not that I may work out anyway.)

Chris Tsui

There are, in fact, a complete Google Play retailer’s value of apps obtainable to obtain. You need to use Google Play Books to hearken to audiobooks. In the event you occur to be one of many 23 audiophiles subscribed to Tidal, you’ll be able to obtain that to your Polestar as effectively. Ditto for YouTube Music. The PlugShare app is useful if you’re on the highway and in want of a charging station. Nevertheless, on condition that it is a Google system, Apple Music shouldn’t be on the menu.

Briefly, Android Automotive OS does its darndest to duplicate the smartphone expertise with out having to attach or actually have a smartphone in your particular person.

Audio and navigation aren’t the one issues an infotainment system has to deal with, although. Lots like programs from Mercedes, BMW, and, in fact, Volvo, local weather controls are finished by way of the underside of the touchscreen. Local weather-related buttons are good and large whereas extra detailed settings might be introduced up by tapping the fan icon. 

The complete system total is quick, with touches of the display screen leading to reactions which might be snappy and smooth-feeling.

One annoying gripe: the issues Polestar has determined to assign to the massive shortcuts that dwell on the high of the display screen are questionable. You’ve bought parking cameras, car-related settings, the app drawer, and an “O” that takes you to the display screen that allows you to swap consumer profiles. That final one form of is smart, certain, however, so far as I’m involved, these different three are among the features I take advantage of the least. Nav and media ought to take up not less than two of those, and there doesn’t appear to be a solution to customise ‘em. 

One other factor to level out that will or might not have been all the way down to the mobile connectivity points recognized to plague the Polestar 2: built-in Google Maps randomly stopped with the ability to pinpoint my location across the center of my week with this automotive and didn’t get better the flexibility to take action, rendering the operate virtually ineffective. Coincidentally or not, the Sirius XM satellite tv for pc radio subscription related to this automotive appeared to run out across the identical time, nearly as if the automotive had put itself into some form of selective airplane mode.

When it did work, although, the system itself is decently conceived principally due to its simplicity and clear, uncluttered layouts.

Apple CarPlay

Regardless of the Polestar 2’s standing as a tech-forward EV, Apple CarPlay integration is surprisingly wired. Though maybe this isn’t so stunning contemplating the phone-eliminating ethos of its Android Automotive OS. In any case, when you’ve bought your iPhone attached by way of USB-C, CarPlay works effectively and takes up a lot of the display screen in a vertical orientation. CarPlay, by the best way, dynamically locations your three most up-to-date (i.e. most used) apps on the backside, thus fixing my largest gripe with Polestar’s native Android system. 

For that purpose alone, I’d nonetheless most likely use CarPlay nearly all of the time if I truly owned this automotive. Doubly so if the connection had been wi-fi, which it, sadly, shouldn’t be. 


With Android Automotive OS, Polestar goes in the best route by handing infotainment software program improvement over to the specialists at Google. It’s a complete lot higher conceived than the overwhelming majority of native automotive head items on the market. The largest caveat right here, although, is that each Google itself and Apple have their very own in-car phone-mirroring tech already, and pretty much as good as Polestar’s comparatively new Android system is, it’s nonetheless not as effectively thought out or faultless as CarPlay, which has had nearly 9 years of iterations and refinements. 

Chris Tsui

That stated, there completely are issues to understand right here, particularly the flexibility to have Google Maps projected natively within the gauge cluster, and the Polestar-specific settings pages that allow you to alter automobile settings are pleasing to have a look at and easy to navigate.

However in its as-tested state, the entire thing feels a bit unfinished. Give it one other few years to iron out the kinks and bugs, although, and we would simply be taking a look at the way forward for in-car software program.

Acquired a tip or query for the writer about Android Automotive OS? You possibly can attain them right here: [email protected]

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