Google is following Apple's lead by developing an anti-tracking feature for its Android devices. The tech giant is reportedly in the early development stages of researching how to limit data collection and cross-app tracking on Android mobile devices, Bloomberg reports.
Google's method will be less stringent than that of Apple so as not to turn advertising partners away, Bloomberg's sources, who chose to remain anonymous explained.
Google makes over $100 billion in annual digital ad sales, meaning it has a vested interest in helping partners to generate revenue by targeting ads to Android devices. However, the company has to balance this with an increase in privacy-conscious consumers.
Apple developed the App Tracking Transparency privacy feature, which will require developers to ask users for permission to collect their devices' Identification for Advertisers code, once it is pushed out with an upcoming iOS update.
The code allows advertisers to track user activity across different websites and apps, allowing them specifically target ads to individual devices.
Though Apple was originally going to add the feature to iOS 14, the company decided to delay the launch so as to give developers more time to make sure their apps are compliant with the new feature.
Privacy-consciousness versus targeted ad revenue
Some companies aren't happy about Apple's new feature. Facebook, for example, went as far as running full-page newspaper ads attacking Apple's new feature.
Though Bloomberg's sources revealed little concrete information about Google's privacy efforts, they did say that the search giant likely won't follow Apple's lead in requiring developers to implement a prompt asking users to opt into data tracking.
They said that it is likely that Google will implement a solution that is similar to its open-source Privacy Sandbox project — Privacy Sandbox eliminates third-party cookies in Chrome and lets advertisers target groups of people with similar interests instead of individuals.
Google aims to avoid alienating its third-party advertisers at the same time as retaining its users and consumers, who have woken up to the issue of online privacy — via scandals such as Cambridge Analytica — in recent years.