Google’s third-party cookie killer is almost ready for beta testing on Android

Privacy Sandbox beta arrives for developers and early testers


Google’s advertising business relies heavily on third-party cookies, and many problems come with them. They invade your privacy and can follow you around the web, knowing exactly which websites you have visited and what you have clicked on. Google wants to fix the situation with a more privacy-friendly approach, the so-called Privacy Sandbox. It’s supposed to completely replace third-party cookies on Google platforms in 2024, but until then a lot of testing needs to be done. And that’s exactly what Google will soon enable on Android. Developers can sign up for the Privacy Sandbox beta early next year.

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The Privacy Sandbox beta will be rolling out to devices running Android 13. This follows a developer preview and allows third-party cookie replacements to be tested in more environments. The developer preview will however continue to exist and will receive updates and new features before the beta release. Unlike the developer preview, developers will need to register for the test, verify their identity, and give the API specific data about themselves for it to work better. Google offers these listings on the Android developer website. Google further requires developers to join an early tester program.

To support the Privacy Sandbox, developers will need to compile their apps to target API level 33 (which is Android 13). It will receive an extension allowing the necessary functionalities in the near future.

Privacy Sandbox is not Google’s first attempt to fix third-party cookies. Prior to this, the company experimented with FLoC, short for Federated Learning of Cohorts. However, the system was implemented in a way that would provide little benefit over third-party cookies, and Google quickly shut down the experiment after privacy advocates and others companies rallied against it. With Privacy Sandbox, the company hopes for a better reception. So far, that seems to be the case, as public outrage is far less than it was around FLoC.

Privacy Sandbox was already supposed to roll out this year in a stable release, but the company has continued to push the date, with a full 2024 release now targeted, with third-party cookies removed.

About Nereida Nystrom

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