Google Ad Tracking Overhaul Continues with First Android Privacy Sandbox Developer Preview

Last year, Apple added App Tracking Transparency to iOS, and the change in the flow of data from mobile users was enough to unsettle even Facebook. Now Google, which relies on targeted advertising for its business model, is preparing its own multi-year tweak to mobile ad tracking and privacy.

Starting today, app developers you can see for the first time the new systemas the first developer preview of Privacy Sandbox is released on Android, following the path of similar tests in Google’s Chrome browser on desktop.

This new plan is supposed to replace the existing Android plan advertising id, which is a user-resettable ID for each device with a “new and more private ad solutions” Privacy Sandbox. Like Apple’s approach, it aims to limit data sharing with third parties and eliminate cross-app identifiers, but we don’t yet know exactly what technology could be implemented. This developer preview builds on top of the Android 13 developer beta, with images for Pixel phones from Pixel 4 to current Pixel 6 models.

Google’s argument has been that it can find a way to protect user privacy better than existing solutions, while also providing information for the targeted advertising that runs on websites like this one and inside many free apps. Critics, including competitors, privacy advocates and regulators, have suggested his approaches will harm privacy and possibly give Google an unfair advantage that harms competition. An antitrust lawsuit against Google by 15 state AGs took aim at the Privacy Sandbox last year.

Developers who try it out will get an early look at Privacy Sandbox and Google’s Cookie Replacement Topics API, and find out how they might work in practice.

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