Google is taking a step similar to Apple’s with user privacy. Later this year, Android users will have the ability to opt out of tracking and have “more control over their data.”
The privacy update will make it difficult for developers to track users’ unique advertising identifiers for personalized advertisements. Users will have to select the option manually as it won’t be set by default, unlike Apple. The advertising identifier (or “Advertising ID”) is also used for analytics and fraud prevention to which Google says it will provide an “alternate solution” next month.
As part of Google Play services update in late 2021, the advertising ID will be removed when a user opts out of personalization using advertising ID in Android Settings. Any attempts to access the identifier will receive a string of zeros instead of the identifier. To help developers and ad/analytics service providers with compliance efforts and respect user choice, they will be able to receive notifications for opt-out preferences. Additionally, apps targeting Android 12 will need to declare a Google Play services normal permission in the manifest file.
It is actually surprising to see Google implementing such a feature. The company was quite hesitant to implement Apple’s App Tracking Transparency over its family of iOS apps as it would affect its advertising business (Google’s real money maker).
Google says the new change will begin rolling out in phases starting later this year for apps running on Android 12 devices. It will expand to support other Google Play devices in early 2022.