Android vehicle? Not yet

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Google released its Android Auto application programming interface (API) to the public in November 2014. Developers can start to adapt their Android mobile applications to be displayed on the screen of an automobile’s smart-entertainment system. However, two experts aren’t sold on the API.

How does Auto work? Drivers connect their smartphone or tablet computer that runs the Android 5.0 (or more recent) operating system through a micro USB connector to a compatible automobile.

At press time, Auto supported two types of apps: audio and messaging. This means that drivers can listen to and control music apps as well as receive notifications, receive messages through text-to-speech and send replies by using their voice. Drivers interact with the apps by using the automobile’s controls, such as those that are on the steering wheel.

Joshua Siegel, who is the founder of CarKnow, which provides data-collection platforms that are used with APIs, says Auto lacks interaction with the automobile’s sensor data that could provide drivers with, for example, gasoline-station information when the fuel level is low, or adjust music volume based on the automobile’s speed. Siegel says this communication is complicated and Google hasn’t achieved it yet. He believes that drivers can expect to see this type of technology in 3 years.

Jovan Johnson, who is an attorney who advises app developers on privacy aspects, says one of his concerns relates to the potential that an app would be used to obtain an individual’s location, and he/she would be sent targeted ads.

“My second concern is data hacks,” Johnson continues. “I can envision teams of unsavory computer users obtaining location data on public figures and publishing it for the world’s consumption.”

Google didn’t have an official comment about this report.