Welcome to Brown’s Bytes! Your weekly insight from Mobliciti’s CTO Andy Brown. Follow #brownsbytes
21st May 2021
It’s been a while since we’ve focused on Android and this week is a good time to discuss it following the publication this week by Google with more details of what’s coming in Android 12.
I’ve spoken quite a bit recently about how Apple has focused on Privacy as a key area of differentiation when it comes to their software. The most dramatic recent example of this was the release of iOS 14.5 and the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature that has placed Apple firmly in a position against Apps & Companies that look to collect data about you in the background.
It was always going to be interesting to see how Google reacted to this, both because of the way Android and iOS have clearly “borrowed” ideas from each other over the years, but also because Google’s philosophy is fundamentally different to Apple’s:
- At its most basic, Apple is a hardware company at heart and writes its software to sell its premium-priced hardware. The two are intertwined, with the value of both linked to the other. In effect, the cost of maintaining the software is covered by the cost of the hardware.
- Android’s approach is different – the software is created by Google and then given to the world of handset manufacturers to deploy into the world. Why would Google spend all the time on R&D for this OS and then give it away? In my opinion, the answer lies in the ethos of the company just as it does with Apple. Google is about gathering data to drive its services… Android (and by extension the deployment of Google’s App Store, Email, Search, Maps, Photos, etc) drives the adoption of its services and brings the big data to fuel its service development further.
An ATT feature similar to the one Apple has created was therefore NEVER going to happen on Android! But having said that, the fact that it exists on iOS and also the focus Apple is placing on Privacy in the marketing of its software made it almost inevitable that Android would have to consider & respond in this area.
Hence why Google’s announcement this week is important…
And the answer appears to be the “Privacy Dashboard”. In effect a one-stop shop that shows you what Apps are using your data and when. In some ways, this looks like a souped-up version of the Settings/Privacy area that iOS has had for a while to see which Apps were tracking your location, but it does appear to give the user more visibility and easier control over their privacy than was previously available.
Of course, that’s if users look at it!
The key point here is that Android will give this tool to view & control things (but not an ATT equivalent I suspect), but the thing that Apple is also doing with ATT is making the default setting Off, not On! Google clearly aren’t going to shoot themselves in the foot here… they need to give privacy controls, but not too much!!
Meanwhile, Apple launched a cheeky ad this week (that you can ironically watch on Youtube), worth a view to see how Apple is using Privacy to differentiate itself, but to also educate users about their data.
Let’s see how this plays out once Android 12 is released… the way that users want to control their data will hopefully grow over time and Enterprises will have to start thinking about the control of these features more also.
For now, I’ll park it there. If you need any assistance with device strategy or the sourcing of the latest devices then please do get in touch.