Stiff penalty imposed by Italian watchdog over Google’s alleged decision to restrict access of one Italian firm to its Android Auto platform
Google has been accused of favouring its Google Map app by preventing an Italian rival app designed for electric cars from accessing its Android Auto platform.
The Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) fined Google 102m euros ($123m) for restricting access to Android Auto by an electric car charging app called JuicePass, made by energy company Enel X Italia.
Android Auto of course allows motorists to pair their Android smartphones to an in-car infotainment system. It also provides access to a number of third party apps, which can be accessed by the car’s infotainment screen.
But Google is alleged to have restricted Enel X Italia’s JuicePass app from being accessed by Android Auto.
The AGCM has alleged that Google violated Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union – and has ordered it to make the JuicePass available via the platform.
It also says Google must to provide the same interoperability with Android Auto to other third party app developers.
Essentially, the Italian regulator says that Google Maps provides some basic services concerning charging of electric cars (charging station locations etc).
“By refusing Enel X Italia interoperability with Android Auto, Google has unfairly limited the possibilities for end users to avail themselves of the Enel X Italia app when driving and recharging an electric vehicle,” the Italian regulator alleges.
“Google has consequently favored its own Google Maps app, which runs on Android Auto and enables functional services for electric vehicle charging, currently limited to finding and getting directions to reach charging points, but which in the future could include other functionalities such as reservation and payment,” it reportedly said.
Google however has denied this, but it is not certain at the time of writing whether the search engine giant intends to appeal the fine.
Google claims the restrictions it places on apps’ access to Android Auto are necessary to ensure drivers are not distracted.