Android Privacy Sandbox Developer Preview 5 is here with more controls for developers
Android’s Privacy Sandbox has been in development since its announcement in February of this year. It’s a multi-year initiative to introduce more private advertising solutions to end-users and is made possible thanks to both the Topics API and FLEDGE. The objective is to preserve user privacy by default while still supporting the mobile ecosystem that relies on effective advertising to sustain free and advertisement-funded applications. It’s a unique-to-Android approach with a new SDK that’s isolated from the rest of the app’s code, and its goal is to replace Ad ID eventually. The latest Developer Preview is now here, and it adds data validation enhancements, and API signature changes across the privacy-preserving APIs and the SDK Runtime.
Privacy Sandbox Developer Preview 5 is really only an update for developers to test out the Privacy Sandbox and give more feedback to Google. Feedback given over the past few months, Google says, has led to real changes, including allowing reflection API usage. Additional design proposals have also been published on FLEDGE services, mediation, and app-to-web measurement, thanks to developer feedback. There are some changes to FLEDGE that require developers to make changes to their code, which are outlined in the release notes.
If you want to start testing Privacy Sandbox as a developer, you can check out the official instructions to set up the SDK and download system images on the Android Virtual Device emulator or supported Pixel devices. There’s still a beta scheduled to arrive by the end of the year, with 2023 set to see scaled testing commence. These previews and betas are independent of the Android 13 release cadence and have been tested separately over the last few months. The final version will also have user-facing controls in the settings app.
New features in Privacy Sandbox include cross-app and web measurement in the Attribution Reporting API and an updated taxonomy for the classification of mobile apps in the Topics API. There are also additional restrictions and limitations in the FLEDGE on Android API that developers will need to take into account.
If you’re a developer, be sure to check out both the official release notes and the Developer Preview 5 announcement blog post. Both contain vital information for supporting the Privacy Sandbox SDK, and for changes that you may need to make to incorporate support for the Privacy Sandbox.