Internet giant Google said on Tuesday it plans to roll out Privacy Sandbox for Android in beta to mobile devices running Android 13 starting early next year.
The Privacy Sandbox Beta will be available to ad technology and app developers who want to test the ad-related APIs as part of their solutions.
To do this, developers must complete an enrollment process to use the advertising-related APIs, including Topics, FLEDGE, and Attribution Reporting.
Topics, which replaced Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) earlier this year, aim to categorize users’ interests under different “topics” based on their device’s browsing history. These inferred interests are then shared with marketers to serve targeted ads.
FLEDGE and Attribution reporting, on the other hand, enable custom audience targeting and help measure ad conversions without relying on third-party user IDs.
Organizations can also request access for a limited number of devices to test the beta, plus register any apps that use the Privacy Sandbox APIs.
The development comes after the search and advertising giant expanded the initiative to include its mobile operating system in February 2022 and followed it up with a developer preview in May 2022.
Privacy Sandbox is an effort led by Google to create a set of web standards for websites to access user information without compromising privacy. It aims to enable online advertising without resorting to invasive methods such as third-party tracking cookies or fingerprinting.
That said, the company’s plans to disable third-party cookies in the Chrome web browser have been delayed twice, with the technology now expected to be phased out sometime in the second half of 2024.
To complicate matters, the proposals have drawn criticism from rival browser vendors such as Mozilla Firefox and developers of other Chromium-based browsers such as Brave, Opera and Vivaldi, who have said the newer methods would “strengthen Google’s position as a web monopolist.”
DuckDuckGo, which blocks Privacy Sandbox through its Chrome browser extension starting in May 2022, said Topics allows Google to track users’ online activities and share that information with advertisers for behavioral targeting without their consent.
“This targeting, no matter how it is done, allows for manipulation (e.g. exploiting personal vulnerabilities), discrimination (e.g. people don’t see jobs based on personal profiles), and filter bubbles (e.g. creating echo chambers that can divide people ) that many people would want to avoid,” the company noted.
Despite the pushback, Google said it is looking to interact with the broader ecosystem and “gather continued feedback as we move into this next phase of testing.”