This morning, a piece from Motor Trend about the 2017 Porsche 911 popped up. In which the publication stated that Porsche opted out of using Android Auto because of all of the data that Google wants to collect. In that piece, Motor Trend stated that Google wanted all kinds of data, including vehicle speed, engine revs, coolant temperature, and just about anything else that comes from the OBD-II port. This afternoon, Google got in touch with us and elaborated on the data that they do collect from Android Auto, and that they do not collect vehicle speeds, coolant temperature or anything like that. Here is Google's statement on the matter.
"Steering this story straight – we take privacy very seriously and do not collect the data the Motor Trend article claims such as throttle position, oil temp and coolant temp. Users opt in to share information with Android Auto that improves their experience, so the system can be hands-free when in Drive, and provide more accurate navigation through the car's GPS."
Google is correct in the fact that users do opt in to share information. Every time you connect a new phone to your car (and are going through the setup process), you are asked if you want to send data to Google, and obviously you have the ability to opt out of that. Google also elaborated on the information that is shared and how it is used. Stating that GPS location is shared with the phone, since the GPS in the car can be more accurate, and thus saves your phone's battery. Google also asks for some information to ensure that they provide a safe experience to those using Android Auto. Allowing Android Auto to know if the car is in park or drive, allows the system to show a keyboard or to stick to voice replies. This is important because typing on a keyboard while driving, is definitely not safe. Android Auto also uses the headlights to figure out if it's night or day, because Android Auto is optimized for night and day. With it being brighter during the day and darker at night.
The search giant also states that the data provided by the car is protected through Android's permission model. The user is informed and will also have to opt-in to provide car data to a specific app. This includes Google's apps as well as third-party apps. For those that have never set up or used Android Auto before, this part of the setup process for a number of apps that are installed on your phone. Including Google Now, Google Play Music and Google Maps.
Google also wanted to remind us that they are working with 35 car makers already for Android Auto. Including Porsche's sister companies, Volkswagen and Audi. Which we just spent the weekend with the Volkswagen Golf-R which has Android Auto. That review will be coming shortly.