The fast-approaching Polestar 2 EV may be the first production car to use Android Automotive OS, but that means iPhone owners will be left out in the cold at first if they want full access to Apple’s in-car system. Priced up for its US release last week, the Polestar 2 takes on Tesla’s Model 3 in the midrange all-electric category – and, at least initially, will come with one of the same problems.
Android Automotive OS is Google’s latest push for car dashboards. While the Polestar 2’s infotainment system may look, on the face of it, much like the Sensus UI familiar from the Polestar 1 and recent Volvo vehicles, in fact it’s based on a completely new platform.
That’ll rely on Google Maps for navigation, the Google Assistant for voice control, and the Google Play store for third-party app downloads. You won’t need a smartphone plugged in to access that, either, with the Polestar 2 having its own baked-in data connection. Google and Polestar will tap into that connection to also deliver software updates over the lifespan of the vehicle.
One of those updates is likely to be eagerly awaited by iPhone users. The Polestar 2 won’t launch with Apple CarPlay support, the automaker confirmed on Twitter. While Android Automotive OS will eventually support Apple’s car interface for iOS devices, that’s not going to happen until next year.
“Apple CarPlay will be available via an OTA update towards the middle of 2021,” Polestar tweeted. “However, the lack of Apple CarPlay does not restrict any functionality with your iPhone in Polestar 2, with the exception of being able to use Siri, Apple Music and other iPhone-based functionality.”
“The functionality provided specifically by Apple CarPlay allows you to use Apple-specific features like Siri, Apple Music and Apple Maps directly from the phone, integrated into the car’s system. These functions are already built into Polestar 2 (advanced voice control, audio streaming and connected navigation),” Polestar argues, “so there is no overall lack of functionality without CarPlay.”
Still, it’s unlikely to go down well with iPhone owners, who have found CarPlay to be an increasingly useful – and safe – way to interact with their smartphone while at the wheel. Recent updates to CarPlay have included more flexibility in which services are displayed, such as being able to bring Spotify or other third-party streaming to the homescreen rather than Apple Music.
Polestar isn’t alone in leaving CarPlay fans out in the cold, mind. Its absence on Tesla vehicles has long been a source of annoyance; with the Polestar 2, at least, there’s the promise that it will be added eventually.
Production of the 2021 Polestar 2 began in late March at the automaker’s plant in China, and official US pricing for the EV fastback was confirmed earlier this month. It start at $59,900 before federal and state incentives, though we’ll have to wait until the EPA mileage figures arrive to know how far you’ll be able to drive on its 78 kWh battery. Deliveries are expected to begin from summer 2020.
Update: The Polestar 2 in production now has the necessary hardware for CarPlay compatibility, but will need the free over-the-air update to actually enable the functionality; that will arrive by mid-2021 at the latest, though could come sooner. The good news, though, is that the Polestar 2 will support wireless CarPlay.