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Google will soon give apps one less way to track you on your phone

When you opt-in for personalized ads on your Android phone, Google creates an advertising ID which it uses to track you and make suggestions. However, did you know that advertising ID is also available to apps on your phone? Well, that’s all about to change.

Google recently updated its support page on the Play Console to inform developers that in the near future their apps will lose access to this advertising ID when a user opts out of personalized ads.

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Starting in late 2021, when a user opts out of interest-based advertising or ads personalization, the advertising identifier will not be available. You will receive a string of zeros in place of the identifier.

As you can see, the change won’t be coming until late 2021–whenever that may be–but at least it’s coming. According to the article from XDA-Developers, a notice shared by a developer sheds some more light on the upcoming change. For starters, it will come via a phased rollout affecting apps on Android 12 first. Later, devices supporting Google Play will get the same treatment starting in early 2022.

This Google Play services phased rollout will affect apps running on Android 12 devices starting late 2021 and will expand to affect apps running on devices that support Google Play in early 2022. In July, we will provide more details and an alternate solution to support essential use cases such as analytics and fraud prevention.

While most users will be waiting till early 2022 for this feature, if you’d like to go ahead and opt-out of personalized ads right now, here’s how to do it. Open the settings menu on your phone, navigate to Google, select Ads, and toggle on Opt out of Ads Personalization.

This recent development is one of Google’s latest attempts to play catch up with Apple, as the Cupertino company pushes its privacy-first approach to smartphones. Google also announced back at I/O that the Play Store would be adding privacy info to apps similar to what Apple added to its App Store last year.

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