A new third-party in-car web browser will allow drivers and passengers to view, shop and browse from the comfort of the driver’s seat, without having to take out a smartphone or tablet.
Vivaldi, a web browser developed by a tech company in Norway, is now available for download in all North American, European and Asia Pacific markets in the Polestar 2 electric car. Polestar 2 is the first auto to carry the browser, which may come to other Android automotive operating systems in the future.
“There’s basically no limit to the web content you can find in Polestar 2 now,” Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath said in a press release.
While available in only one car from one brand, it paved the way for Vivaldi or other third-party browsers to make its way into other cars that use the Android Automotive OS. Many automakers are switching to operating systems as they launch next-generation in-car software technology.
Implemented during the Christmas season, the move makes Vivaldi the first independent web browser available for vehicles running the Android Automotive OS.
Android Automotive is an operating system that runs directly through the vehicle’s software. Its open stack, open source platform allows the use of customizable infotainment interfaces and apps developed for Android and Android Auto.
Android Automotive, although with a similar name, should not be confused with Android Auto, which is a platform that allows a user’s Android-enabled device to project apps designed for in-vehicle use onto a vehicle’s infotainment system. Runs on phone.
In the US, Android Automotive is installed on the 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge. It is also available on the 2022 model year of the Lucid Air, GMC Hummer EV, GMC Sierra, GMC Yukon, Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Suburban, Chevrolet Silverado, Volvo C40 Recharge, Volvo XC60 and Volvo S90. It’s coming to the 2023 Cadillac Lyric.
While this opens the door for wider use of third-party browsers in Android Automotive OS-enabled cars, some automakers may not include third-party browsers in their products in the near future.
However this may be subject to change given the recent trends. In 2020, Apple eventually allowed the use of Google Maps in Apple CarPlay after initially specifically allowing Apple Maps.
General Motors spokeswoman Stephanie Obendorfer explained: newsweek That a third-party browser for Android Automotive isn’t in the cards right now.
“GM is always looking to enhance and evolve the customer experience,” it said. “We have no plans to offer web browser capabilities for our Android Auto operating system vehicles at this time.”
In 2021, Honda announced that it would start using Android Automotive in its vehicles in the second half of 2022.
When asked about the possibility of allowing third-party browsers in its future vehicles, Honda explained newsweek That they do not speculate about possible future product plans and “have not made any recent announcements related to third-party browsers.”
Ford, Lincoln and Stelantis vehicles will start using the OS in 2023. In the US, Stelantis sells cars under the Jeep, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Maserati and Ram brand names.
For driver safety, the browser can only be used when the car is parked. When in motion, any streaming content will be converted to an audio-only format. Last month, Mercedes-Benz released 227 cars after a software error enabled drivers to play video games in the infotainment screen while the vehicle was in motion.
In a press release announcing the partnership with Polestar, Vivaldi emphasized privacy in the browsing experience, saying that private browsing data is not stored by the car and is not shared with Polestar. That data is shared between other devices logged into the same account.
The browser comes with a built-in ad blocker, a translation tool, tracking protection, and a notes function. Encrypted sync functionality enables moving tabs open on one device to another.
Available for Mac, Windows, Linux or Android, the desktop version of Vivaldi has many of the same functions, along with customization features for tabs, keyboard shortcuts, and search capabilities.
As of the end of 2021, Vivaldi has over 1 million registered accounts. On its desktop and mobile platforms, the company touts Vivaldi’s customization features to differentiate them from the likes of Safari or Google Chrome.
In the browser, you can use any website as a separate panel for split-screen browsing and create custom keyboard shortcuts.
A mobile version is currently only available for Android phones.
The Vivaldi team will also provide regular over-the-air updates to the browser for mobile or desktop versions as well. Vivaldi hasn’t yet specified how exactly those updates happen.
The Vivaldi browser is currently only available to download for free by Polestar 2 drivers in the car’s Google Play Store app.