Carmakers limiting access to information they shared with Apple, Google

Carmakers are putting the brakes on the information they share with technology partners Apple Inc and Google Inc through new systems that linked smartphones to vehicle infotainment systems, defending access to information about what drivers did in their cars.

Auto companies hope that the vehicle data would one day generate billions of dollars in e-commerce, though they had only now started working on monetising strategies for the information.

Apple and Google had already been making money from smartphone owners by providing a variety of products and services, from digital music to targeted advertising, and connecting phones to car systems that would be expected to extend their reach.

However with infotainment systems such as Apple's CarPlay and Google's Android Auto gaining wider acceptance, auto companies hope to keep tech providers from gaining access to a wealth of potentially profitable information collected by computer systems in cars.

Some auto companies had specifically said they would not provide Apple and Google with data from the vehicle's functional systems - steering, brakes and throttle, for instance as also information about range, a measure of how far the car could travel before it ran out of gas.

''We need to control access to that data,'' said Don Butler, Ford Motor Co's Executive Director of connected vehicle and services, Reuters reported. ''We need to protect our ability to create value'' from new digital services built on vehicle data.
 
Meanwhile, Apple's widely anticipated CarPlay software would be making its mainstream debut this summer in models from Hyundai and Chevrolet, but Apple was already looking to use that potential in a very different way.

Designed to streamline the multitude of apps from smartphones that played on some dashboards into a more cohesive - and less distracting - arrangement, CarPlay combined iPhone programs, including maps, messages and music, into a single interface. It made skilled use of Siri voice commands as also familiar touch controls.

But it could not control standard car functions, like switching FM radio stations or checking a vehicle's engine status; those features, would need drivers to switch out of CarPlay.

''Any user interface jump within a single display is a hard thing for people to reconcile,'' said Parrish Hanna, Ford's global director of human machine interface.

Switching between different sets of controls, even between digital and physical control buttons, can be confusing and potentially distracting,'' he said, SF Gate reported.