Pixel 5 screenSource: Hayato Huseman / Android Central

What you need to know

  • Google is implementing additional safeguards to ensure Android apps cannot track users who have opted out of sharing their "Advertising ID."
  • Google says the changes are aimed at providing users with more control over their data.
  • The new policy is expected to be rolled out later this year.

Google will soon make it a lot harder for Android apps to track users who opt-out of sharing their Advertising ID. Advertisers use a device's "Advertising ID" to track users as they switch from one app to another.

While Google already lets Android users limit ad tracking and even reset their Advertising IDs, developers can easily find their way around the current restrictions with the help of alternative device identifiers. Once Google implements its new policy later this year, developers will only receive "a string of zeros instead of the identifier."

The Financial Times reports that Google announced the policy changes in an email sent to Play Store developers earlier this week. The search giant told developers that it aims to "provide users with more control over their data, and help bolster security and privacy" with the new safeguards. Google has also updated its Play Console Help page for Advertising IDs with more details on the Play services update.

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The phased rollout will affect apps running on Android 12 devices starting late 2021. Google plans to expand the changes to apps running on the best Android phones with Google Play support in early 2022. Any apps that use a persistent ID other than the advertising ID will receive a policy violation warning. For use cases such as analytics and fraud prevention, however, Google will provide an alternate solution to developers sometime in July.

The announcement comes a little over a month after Apple introduced "App Tracking Transparency" with its iOS 14.5 update. The changes require developers to seek permission from users to track them across different apps and websites. In case the user denies permission, apps can no longer track them using their data.

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