There has been a lot of concern in recent years over the tracking that not just smartphone companies can do from your phone but the tracking by apps themselves on your phone. Apple hit the nail on the head when they recently added the ability to turn off app tracking with their version letting you “control which apps are allowed to track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites.”
This is important because previously, and currently on Android, any app installed can track your clicks through other apps on your phone meaning an app such as Facebook could follow you throughout your entire device — and we all know by now just how pervasive Facebook has been with its tracking in the past.
Recently we hoped we would see something mentioned regarding this at Google’s Developer conference, but it was not even mentioned in passing but just a couple of days ago sent out an email to developers informing of this new change they are looking to implement later this year.
The inference from this email is that it seems that the Google / Android solution will not be as granular as the iOS solution which allows you to turn off tracking for specific apps. The Android solution looks set to be an all over solution where the user will either be able to reset their “advertising ID” or just turn off using their identifier for personalised ads — ie. turn off app tracking device-wide.
Here at EFTM we have been speculating whether Google would bring this feature to Android given that it’s whole ecosystem is based Google being able to track you and serve you with ads. Now that Apple are pushing hard with their app tracking feature (everyone I’m sure has seen the very clever ad — and I’m sure most Android users have wished they had this at some stage) it is good to see Google following suit. Sometimes copying is good for everyone.
The specifics of the new Android service are unknown at this stage but Google have said they will send out more detail in July and we look forward to that. This time it is great to see Google following Apple although I am surprised that they are not making it more granular so that users can still opt into Google apps tracking you if they so desire.
The update will arrive as part of a Google Play Services update in late 2021 and will affect devices running Android 12 at first before expanding to all Google Play-supported devices in 2022. It’s still a while until most devices will see it anyway so the feature set may and probably will most likely change before then. Fear not Android users, before too long you too will be able to stop apps from tracking you.