A year ago, Google promised to abandon third-party cookies to track users, opting instead for cohorts, or FLoCs, which were not very well received. As a result, Google was abandoning FLoC in favor of the Topics API in the context of the Privacy Sandbox.
Privacy Sandbox is going ahead – for now, at least – and while it’s still very green, Google wants developers to be able to start testing its APIs. To do this, it has released a new Android Developer Preview which is basically Android 13 with the Topics APIs.
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Time to try the alternative to cookies
Google has been working hard for some time on a viable alternative to cookies that satisfies both parties: that allows advertisers target ads without users being tracked. At least not in the way advertising has worked so far. First Google tried it with the cohorts, or affinity groups, which were not well received. From its ashes another idea was born: Privacy Sandbox.
Privacy Sandbox is an initiative that “will last several years” and that will change and adapt according to the feedback of advertisers, users and regulatory entities. Part of this initiative is the Topics APIthrough which advertisers can receive a list of topics that are detected as being of interest to the user, anonymously and with local processing, on mobile.
FLoC ended in nothing and maybe that’s why Google wants to play it safe with its next attempt, making sure everything is working properly before investing more resources. So that both advertisers and developers and/or privacy experts can begin to analyze their use, Google has launched the first Android Developer Preview with Privacy Sandbox.
In practice, it is a version of Android 13 Beta with the Topics API. Impossible to distinguish from the outside -except in the build number- but with the necessary APIs so that developers can start experimenting with the generation and obtaining of these themes.
This Developer Preview is indistinguishable from Android 13
Those who are interested in trying Privacy Sandbox will need a Google Pixel 4 or higher, or the Android Studio emulator. To install it you need to download the system image and flash it manually.
This first Developer Preview includes the preliminary Topics API, though topic generation is done offline on a limited list of apps. Other related APIs such as Attribution Reporting and FLEDGE will arrive later, because these Android Developer Previews with Privacy Sandbox will take place during the year, with a beta more focused on users later.
More information | Android Developers