Volvo’s Polestar 2 is due in 2020 and is set to be one of the closest competitors to Tesla’s Model 3. Externally the design certainly looks impressive, but it’s the interior that so seriously differences.
Polestar have opted for an 11″ vertically mounted touchscreen with very large bezels. Bezels are handy on something like the iPad as you need to hold the device without accidental taps, but on a display mounted to the dash, these really should be smaller.
The entire infotainment system has been developed in collaboration with Google, so naturally it runs Android, not Android Auto, but full Android which has some interesting opportunities and complications.
The first real benefit of this partnership is that the Polestar 2 comes with Google Maps included. It’s pretty well accepted that this is the best navigation system available, ticking one of the biggest core features an EV must have.
In a new video video by What Car? we get to see it in action, and the responsiveness looks really impressive. Also available on the software side is Spotify for those digitally connected music lovers, or those who want to leverage their Podcast section.
What’s not so great is the Android UI. As we know from tablets, Android on tablet-sized displays (larger than the Galaxy Note) has really been forgotten about by developers.
We do see glimpses of hope though, like a few seconds of a quad-display that offers a dashboard-like overview of Maps, Consumption data, Phone connection (and battery life), as well as a music app (in this instance iHeart Radio). There’s also climate controls down the bottom, making it easy to access fan speed and heated seat options.
There’s another few seconds where app icons are dragged around the different quadrants of the screen, which shows a level of user configuration that’s simply not on offer in a Tesla. It is at that point where you remember that’s exactly the sell of Android on the phone, so it makes sense Android Automotive OS would follow suit.
SlashGear also have a great walkthrough of the car’s interface, even showcasing the voice control (Google Assistant) which worked, sometimes and that’s when the car was stationary without road noise or ambient conversations.
While pre-production, everything in the OS appears massive, like someone left scaling at 125% or 150% by mistake. Larger buttons make it look more like a kids play thing, rather than something that belong in a futuristic high-end luxury EV.
I understand the theory of larger interface elements will assist in the ability to tap the right area of the screen while moving, but other vehicles offer smaller UI icons and they work just fine.
I also found it interesting that Polestar have included a more traditional secondary display in front of the driver and plenty of buttons on the steering wheel. While not as minimal as the Model 3, some drivers may prefer that.