Polestar 2 digital key update adds new phone features to EV

Polestar is pushing out a new digital key system for the Polestar 2, tapping drivers' smartphones for authentication, while the OTA update also brings further range enhancements for the EV. In addition, the new car software will allow Polestar 2 drivers to precondition the cabin of the vehicle remotely, using the smartphone app.

Polestar had an app for the EV from the get-go, a free download for iOS and Android devices. What's being added, however, is the ability to use that app as the key for the electric fastback, rather than the regular key fob.

For owners, it should be fairly straightforward: much like, in fact, the experience with the existing key. Walk up to the Polestar 2 and it will unlock as you approach the door; step up to the trunk, meanwhile, and that will open. If you approach the charging door, however, it'll be that which is unlocked.

As you might guess, then, there's a fair amount going on in the background. In the app, the digital version of the key is encrypted, and then uses an encrypted Bluetooth connection with the EV.

Polestar has fitted 18 Bluetooth sensors in, and around, the Polestar 2 meanwhile. When you get within arm's length, therefore, they can triangulate where exactly you are in relation to the doors, trunk, or charging door, and open whatever is appropriate based on that. There's no need to tap the phone to the door, or hold it near.

To actually start the Polestar 2 up, meanwhile, the phone being used as the digital key has to be inside the cabin. Polestar uses a pressure sensor built into the driver's seat to power up the EV, meaning all that's necessary is putting the car into Drive.

It's not the only new functionality to be found in the Polestar app. It's now possible to check the battery status of the EV, remotely control the cabin HVAC to cool or heat it from afar, and to remotely lock it. More features, Polestar says, will be added in due course.

Within the Polestar 2's Android Automotive OS-powered infotainment system, meanwhile, there's a new way that distance-to-empty (DTE) for the battery is shown, plus there are new battery pre-heating measures which the automaker says should improve range. The wireless phone charge behavior has been tweaked too, Polestar says, "for newer phones with additional magnetic elements." No specific devices are name-checked by that, though it sounds a lot like a reference to Apple's MagSafe system on the iPhone 12 series.

The rest of the new firmware will be a mix of bug fixes and stability improvements. Polestar says that the OTA update will begin rolling out to Polestar 2 cars from today, though since it's being pushed out in batches you may not see it on your EV right away. You'll also need the latest version of the Polestar app installed on your phone, which the automaker says should be pushed out automatically.