Google announced a new privacy feature coming with Android 12. Users will now be able to opt-out of ad tracking in all play store apps.
For now, developers are allowed to collect personal info and put together profiles. The app can then use this to target ads at the customer or, more likely, sell their information to data brokers.
The new tool lets people block applications from accessing their Google Advertising ID—a unique number used for identification. This effectively means app developers won’t be able to connect the collected data to individuals.
The feature mirrors Apple’s new changes to iOS to a great extent. Namely, Apple’s update from a few weeks ago lets users choose whether they want to allow apps to track them. The change was a great success, with some 70% of people opting out despite pushback from companies like Facebook.
Many businesses even flocked to Android for advertising, raising Google’s ad revenue. However, the push from users for more privacy features proves stronger.
That said, Google is still lagging behind Apple. While it has more granular permission controls for phone services, Apple lets its customers be much more selective about which apps can collect their data. What’s more, Apple prompts users to specify their settings whenever they first open an app.
Still, many see Google’s new tool as a significant step towards better identity protection online. What’s more, the change might not be all bad for Google either.
It is very likely to hurt the conglomerate’s bottom line to a degree, but it will arguably be much worse for Facebook, Google’s main competitor in the ad space.
Some further changes will affect the Play Store. Developers will have to submit information on what information they collect, which Google will display to users.
The new features are supposed to roll out somewhere around the end of 2021. It remains to be seen if Google will also add more tools akin to Apple’s privacy controls. Either way, Android customers will be able to enjoy higher security if they choose.
Until then, users will still need to rely on VPNs like Hotspot Shield and Android’s ID reset features to protect their identity online. For those who’d like extra protection, we prepared a list of the most secure cloud storage and ID theft protection software.