Monday, December 4, 2023

Android Automotive adds its first browser, Vivaldi, to Polestar screens


Better data and safety protection than a Tesla browser.


What you need to know

  • Android Automotive OS will receive its first “full-scale web browser.”
  • The browser will only be usable when parked, though some content will work while you drive.
  • This browser will currently only be available to Polestar 2 drivers, not other Android Automotive cars.
  • Vivaldi’s browser protects your privacy, so Polestar won’t receive any data.

Vivaldi arrived on Android phones last year, offering native ad blocking, tracking protection, synced user data across devices, and a tabbed interface reminiscent of a desktop browser.

Now, the browser is coming to Android Automotive. Specifically to the Polestar 2 infotainment system, which gives you Google Assistant access without needing to plug in an Android phone.

It’s a fully functioning touch-based browser, not the usual app-based system that Android Auto or Echo Auto offers. So you can go to sites like YouTube that most automotive OSs would never allow.


Of course, the Vivaldi Android Automotive OS doesn’t disregard safety like, say, a Tesla touchscreen, which absurdly lets you play games while driving. Instead, you can only use it while fully parked; once you start driving, it’ll switch to “audio-only.” That way, you can start a Zoom call with colleagues before you start driving, or use YouTube or Netflix as a podcast during long road trips.

If you have a Vivaldi account, this browser will sync with your other browsers, making it easier to access your bookmarks. But Polestar itself won’t have access to your private browsing data. Again, this stands in stark contrast with the Tesla browser, which does store your data by default.

Vivaldi says it will regularly update the Android Automotive browser alongside its other platforms, and that it will be available in European, North American, and Asia Pacific markets where the Polestar 2 is sold. Most recently, the Vivaldi 5.0 update brought double-decker tabs and a side panel for larger screens like tablets. In theory, both new tools could appear in the Automotive-based version.

Unfortunately, other Android Automotive cars won’t receive this browser. Vivaldi could theoretically bring it to Volvo, GMC, Ford, or Lincoln cars with this infotainment display in the future; we will reach out to Vivaldi and provide an update if they confirm or deny this.

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