One of the big stories this week was in regards to Porsche and Motor Trend. Porsche stated that they would not be opting for Android Auto this year (but would be using Apple CarPlay). Now Porsche did say it was due to the information that Google wanted sent back to them, but they didn’t tell Motor Trend what information that was. Leading the publication to speculate a bit about what info Google wants. And basically saying that Google wants a full OBD-II dump anytime someone is driving with Android Auto. Google reached out to many publications that covered that story, including us, to inform us of what information they do collect and even explained why they want or need that information. Ford and GM also reached out and stated that the information Motor Trend reported that Google requests is untrue.
So the real question here is Google spying on you when your driving? The short answer is no. Google wants a few pieces of information from your car when you’re using Android Auto, and all of them have legit reasons. One is the whether you are in park or not. Android Auto will not start up with the car in Drive, and this is for safety reasons, as you should be paying attention to the road and not your phone. Another is your headlight position, this helps tell Android Auto whether you are driving at night or during the day. As Android Auto is optimized for both night and day driving. GPS is also needed as Android Auto would rather rely on the car’s GPS signal than your phone, as it’ll save battery and can often times be a bit more precise. And that’s basically all of the info that Google is collecting with Android Auto. Additional info is collected, but that is to make Android Auto better, and you can opt out of it very easily. So it’s not required to use Android Auto.
While it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Google requesting a ton of information from auto-makers when it comes to Android Auto, seeing as Google is an ad company and collects data on just about everything. And the fact that they are working on their own self-driving project shows that this is a plausible idea, that Google wants to know everything that is recorded in that OBD-II port. But that just isn’t the case. No, Google is not spying on your driving habits.