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Google may roll out a ‘less stringent’ version of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature

Sometime this spring, Apple is going to (finally) roll out one of the biggest additions to iOS 14: App Tracking Transparency. It’s been a long time coming, and it’s ruffled some feathers. But now it sounds like Google may be eyeballing a similar feature for Android.

According to a report today from Bloomberg, Google is exploring an “alternative” to Apple’s own ATT feature. It will be similar in the broad strokes, but the publication stresses it will be “less stringent” than Apple’s implementation. The goal on Google’s side is to keep publisher’s happy, while also leaning a bit more into user privacy at the same time.

The report states that this could see Google developing something akin to what it plans for its own Chrome web browser. Specifically, Google has said it’s going to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome soon. Google could navigate down this same path for Android as a whole, putting more effort in user privacy.

Per the report:

To keep advertisers happy while improving privacy, the discussions around Google’s Android solution indicate that it could be similar to its planned Chrome web browser changes, the people said. The company said in 2020 that it intended to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome within two years. Google reaffirmed that plan earlier this year. Cookies are a way for websites to track users around the web to serve them more personalized ads.

A spokesperson for Google had this to say:

We’re always looking for ways to work with developers to raise the bar on privacy while enabling a healthy, ad-supported app ecosystem.

It will be interesting to see what happens with this. Google seems to be more interested in user privacy as a whole in the year 2021, more so than in the past. However, it’s not always keen to follow Apple’s own guidelines. Just look how it handled the privacy labels in the Apple App Store, dragging its feet as much as it could before finally having to follow along with the storefront’s rules.

Still, maybe Google will do right by Android users with this feature. Even if it’s “less stringent” than Apple’s own implementation.

What do you think? Will less stringent really mean “less transparent” in the long run?

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