For Tech of the Year, Road Test Editor Zac Palmer gives us a detailed walkthrough of the Android Automotive system on the all-new 2021 Polestar 2.
More on the 2021 Polestar 2
- This right here is Android Automotive in the new Polestar 2. Let's take a look around and see what this new infotainment system that is built on Android has to offer. Right off the bat, you turn the car on, you get these four tiles here, Google Maps, Google Assistant, and a couple of media tiles as well.
But you can actually swipe through these tiles to get additional options within them, just in case you didn't want the nice aesthetic for you there. You can also just get the app tiles themselves to quickly go into things. That leads us directly into the main app drawer, which is what I'll call it here since this is an Android based infotainment system. You get your four tiles up there.
And all of the apps that you have loaded in the car are right here. And since this is an Android based system, you have your Google Play store. Android users will be very familiar with this setup. You tap on the Google Play icon and boom here's the Google Play store and all of the available apps out there to download.
This list should be growing as more and more cars get this infotainment system. It is fairly limited in use right now. But the ability to customize your car with more in additional apps should be coming soon.
So now let's transition into some car settings. Because this isn't just Android auto here. This is the entire car's native infotainment system. So that means everything, including the car settings is baked into it. So we have up here, drive. This is the Polestar 2, and steering feel, your one pedal drive options and whatnot. Assistance features, you can just scroll through all of these here.
You can set what your maxim charge is. It's all fairly easy. Simply laid out at the top here. You know feels a little like Android, though it's definitely a full Polestar skin on top of it. Though I do feel a little at home to my Android phone.
Now we've been talking about Android a lot. So what exactly does that get you with Android Automotive? Well perhaps the best feature is native Google Maps integration, no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto necessary here. Just have native Google Maps as the navigation system in the car. You can see it right here in the infotainment system.
It's also living in the instrument cluster directly ahead of you, which is pretty great to see. I know the Google Maps is pretty much the most superior navigation app out there. So being able to search in the car any sort of destination you want. You see it's actually tied into the Polestar 2's charging system as well.
So if I wanted to go to Costco. I wanted to tell me I have about 46% charge left once I get there. Right now the car is at 48%. So that's a pretty neat feature that is built in there with Google Maps.
Now other cool phone features that this infotainment system has, Spotify built in. You can log in super simply to your Spotify account just using a QR code. Tap the app. It pulls up your Spotify itself. No need to mess with your phone at all.
You can go to your home. It should look familiar to what your standard Spotify is. Recents your library. It all really reminds you of what's going on in your phone, which is pretty great.
Now beyond Spotify, we also have Google Assistant, which is perhaps one of the coolest features of this entire thing. We all know how horrible voice assistants can be in many native applications. But Google Assistant is probably the best one out there. So you can simply say, hey, Google, find me the nearest electric charging station.
Here it is pulling up all the options.
GOOGLE ASSISTANT: --vehicle charging stations close by. EV charging station in Ferndale is 2.1 miles away.
- So there's that. You can easily pull up any of those, type in any kind of address or destination. Tell it you want to go to a local restaurant. Any of the things that you can do with Google Assistant on your phone, you can also do here, which is what makes it so capable and so much better than many other native systems.
Plus you can control the car with it. So say I wanted to turn on my heated steering wheel. I can simply say, hey, Google. Turn on the heated steering wheel.
GOOGLE ASSISTANT: All right, turning on the steering wheel heater.
- Boom. Just like that, there's no need to actually go into your little climate section down here and tap the buttons like you would on a normal Volvo without the system.
The last couple of things I'll point out that are really cool with this is just how similar to Android it actually feels. So, if you have a phone, any phone Android, Apple phone, you'll have a notification shade this operates just like the one on my Android phone does. You can pull it down, boom.
There's your notifications if anything is going on with the car. Plus, you have settings. You have your little gear icon. Looks familiar to me. This looks just like the Android phone settings in here.
You even have your system all the way down at the bottom and you can check which Android version it's running. Tap the about. Here we are, Android version 10 on this Polestar. Can even tap the build number to become a developer if you're a real phone nerd like that.
However you're not allowed to hack the car in ways that you are allowed to hack the phone. But nevertheless, it is a really, really cool thing to see. Basically a phone on a screen in a car minus the things that are obviously unsafe. So, this is a really, really neat infotainment system. I've been enjoying it a lot so far in this Polestar 2.