It took a while but Google has responded to Apple’s App Tracking Transparency with the new Privacy Sandbox for Android. Straight-up, I think it’s a fantastic proposal with really strong privacy benefits for everyone who uses a smartphone (well, at least Android phones!).
It also has good features for app publishers and developers who need to market their apps.
I recently wrote about one specific feature, SDK Runtime, on my client Singular’s blog:
In the beginning there was the app. A developer said: I need more app candy and capability, but I don’t have the recipe, or ability to bake the cake all by myself. Solution providers filled the gap with delicious pre-coded goodies that app developers could simply conjure up in code without having to do very much work at all.
But SDKs with extensive fingerprinting code were the cause of Apple rejecting app updates back in the early days of iOS 14.5. They’re one way some apps have been kicked off the App Store. And SDKs from rogue ad networks have been accused of driving both attribution fraud on billions of devices and orchestrating privacy-threatening data exfiltration … including snooping on communications in apps.
The modern app ecosystem couldn’t function with SDKs. They’re absolutely critical to the software that everyone who uses a smartphone or a tablet today depends on.
But they’re also a double-edged sword.
Google thinks it has a solution.
I’ll be doing a bit of a series on Google’s privacy initiatives for Android, which follow off what the company is doing for Chrome.