Swedish electric carmaker Polestar has introduced a new in-car video streaming offering in Europe, bringing live television to its Polestar 2 vehicles. It works via an app on the dash-mounted infotainment screen powered by the Google Android Automotive OS — that’s a different product than the smartphone-powered Android Auto product that competes with Apple CarPlay, and the Polestar is the first vehicle to use the platform.
The app, which Polestar has released in Europe in beta form, allows streaming video in all markets from BBC Ideas, Al Jazeera English and Germany’s tagesschau. Other market-specific offerings include SVT in Sweden, TV2 in Norway, and GOPlay and RTBF in Belgium. In its press release announcing the service, Polestar says support for additional channels is coming. A company spokesperson tells TechRepublic that the in-car streaming product will come to the U.S. eventually, but a target release date has not been decided.
“We have released the new Polestar video app in beta form so that our customers can start to enjoy the benefits of in-car video streaming sooner rather than later,” said Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath in a press release. “We will receive feedback – both good and bad – that will help to refine the app based on thousands of use cases, rather than a small, defined set. We will also continue to add channels in the future, which gives the app huge growth potential since it is realistically able to integrate any web-based streams.”
Polestar joins Amazon in the in-car video realm. Amazon and Jeep announced earlier this year that Fire TV support is coming in the upcoming Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer SUVs. Passengers will be able to stream Amazon Fire TV content (from the Netflix and Youtube apps, for example) on in-vehicle screens. The Jeep implementation of Fire TV will even allow the front-seat passenger to watch something, thanks to a privacy screen that will hide the video content from the driver.
Having a driver watching television while on the move is a safety concern, and both Amazon/Jeep and Polestar will prevent drivers from watching content while the car is in motion. Polestar says the video streaming will work so long as the vehicle remains in Park, but switching into Drive or Reverse hides the video while audio continues to play.
As a bonus, the data used by the Polestar streaming service comes from the car’s included data plan, so there are no extra costs for owners to stream. It’s not known if this same deal will be made in the U.S., nor what services might be supported. Thanks to the Android Automotive OS, it’s possible for streaming services like Netflix, YouTube and Twitch to develop apps and release them on the platform’s app store.
These aren’t the first cars to support in-vehicle streaming, of course. Several years ago, Tesla announced the integration of Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and more into the updated infotainment system in its cars. As autonomous driving inches closer to reality — and carmakers install more technically capable infotainment systems — in-car streaming will likely become commonplace before too long.