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Google to let Android users opt out of ad tracking, following Apple

The option will become available in late 2021, with a Google Play services update.

An Android statue wearing a mask on the Google campus in Mountain View, California, U.S., on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. Silicon Valley has the lowest office vacancy rate in the U.S., even as technology companies embrace remote work. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg An Android statue wearing a mask on the Google campus in Mountain View, California, U.S., on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. Silicon Valley has the lowest office vacancy rate in the U.S., even as technology companies embrace remote work. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
An Android statue wearing a mask on the Google campus in Mountain View, California, U.S., on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. Silicon Valley has the lowest office vacancy rate in the U.S., even as technology companies embrace remote work. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg (Bloomberg)

Google will let Android mobile software users opt out of being tracked by advertisers on their smartphone applications, following an earlier move by rival Apple Inc. to bolster privacy on iPhones.

The option will become available in late 2021, with a Google Play services update, the Alphabet Inc. unit said on a support website. Developers will no longer be able to see a user’s unique advertising ID if that person has declined to receive personalized ads. Unlike Apple’s feature, users won’t be opted out of ad tracking by default.

For months, Google has been mulling a way to give Android users more control over ad tracking with a less stringent approach than Apple’s, Bloomberg reported. In May, Google said it would create a safety section in its Play Store in 2022 so Android users can see what data developers collect about them and share, plus give access to additional privacy and security information.

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Apple roiled the mobile advertising industry in April when it debuted its App Tracking Transparency feature, which requires users to opt in to being tracked by apps for personalized advertising. Developers expect to lose revenue from the change because most consumers likely won’t agree to have their data collected.

Google said the Play services rollout will affect apps running on Android 12 devices starting in late 2021 and migrate to other devices with Google Play in early 2022.

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