Here’s how Android will adopt app tracking transparency

Apple made serious headlines when it released iOS 14.5, an update to the iPhone which gave you the option of blocking apps from tracking your personal data to deliver customized experiences through ads. Many were wondering how Google would adopt the feature (presuming it would at all) with Android 12, and it looks like we have our answer.

As spotted by 9to5Google, a new support document details how developers will integrate the ability for users to stop data tracking which will be a requirement for all apps that add support for Android 12. In addition, if you’re running the Android 12 beta, you can go in and turn off data tracking through Settings > Google > Ads. It probably won’t do much right now, but it will this fall when the new version of Android is released.

According to Google, when a user turns off data tracking, apps will be left with nothing but a string of zeros instead of a proper advertising ID. Apps will then be given an easy way to delete that particular user’s information. It sounds like a straightforward way to nuke all tracking between apps, which is a good thing since it greatly improves privacy on Android.

Of course, Google’s probably not too thrilled about having to ship such a feature. The company is an advertising-first entity, and personalized ads are a humongous reason why they’ve been able to have such success in the market. The same goes for Facebook and every other company who got mad at Apple for shipping App Tracking Transparency. But Google had to keep its mouth shut since it would inevitably ship a feature similar to it.

That being said, Google more than likely won’t feel any sort of hit from it in terms of poor ad experiences and lost revenue. When new Android versions come out, it can take third parties years to ship them to their devices. Since Google’s app tracking feature will be exclusive to Android 12, lots of people won’t even get access to the feature until they upgrade to a completely different phone.

Still, when there’s a controversial new feature to talk about, people will talk about it, so expect plenty of chatter around the update later this year when Google will likely share more details about it.