App Tracking Protection Beta is now available on Android

App Tracking Protection Beta is now available on Android

By Valentina Tuta

This beta feature of DuckDuckGo for Android that helps block third-party trackers in your apps (even when you’re not using them) is finally available for Android.

After its first beta release, the developers have fixed some bugs and included more features like seeing what personal data trackers (such as precise location, age and fingerprint) usually try to collect before blocking them. 

They also improved performance, reduced app exclusions, and made their block list public. But let’s see what else the developers have prepared for their new open beta.

App Tracking Protection open beta

The free feature in the Android DuckDuckGo app, “App Tracking Protection,” guarantees you more complete privacy and less creepy targeting by blocking all kinds of third-party trackers in your phone’s apps, starting with Google snooping on your weather app.

Certainly, within Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT), the feature that allows iOS users to allow or disallow third-party app tracking in their apps is not a novelty. However, no one had previously considered Android users. 

In fact, at present, the percentage of people who have Android phones represents approximately more than half of the world’s population. So as you can see, the developers of DuckDuckGo are offering a powerful application that allows you to automatically block all hidden trackers that can be identified by the App Tracking Protection feature.

The Trouble with App Trackers

Now, the average Android user has 35 apps on their phone. What’s more, through some tests, it was discovered that a phone with 35 apps can experience between 1,000 and 2,000 tracking attempts every day and contact more than 70 different tracking companies.

So, imagine the weekend has arrived and you’ve decided to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon playing with apps on your phone: keeping an eye on flight prices for a getaway (Southwest Airlines app), checking out a house your friend has been raving about (Zillow app), seeing if those concert tickets have gone on sale yet (SeatGeek app), and checking the weather (Weather Network app).

Well, it is known that within these four applications, more than 45 tracking companies collect such personal data as your precise location, email address, phone number, time zone, and a fingerprint of your device (such as screen resolution, device make and model, language, local internet provider, etc.) that can be used to identify you.

Creepy, isn’t it? Tracking Protection gives you the assurance of private browsing while showing you what trackers normally try to collect.

But what are they doing with all that information? 

Personal data companies like Facebook and Google use that information to create profiles that advertisers and content targeting companies use to influence what you see online.

So you could easily be bombarded with ads related to your mom’s toothpaste after spending time at her house or even stumble across pregnancy-related advertising and content about medications or diseases. 

Basically, the examples are endless, and sometimes it seems like you are being listened to, but in reality, it’s not that someone is listening to your conversations; it’s that your activity is being tracked and analyzed relentlessly!

Likewise, the problems with all this information collection go way beyond so-called “relevant” (aka creepy) advertising and targeting. Tracking networks can sell your data to other companies like data brokers, advertisers, and governments, resulting in more substantial harms like ideological manipulation, discrimination, personal price manipulation, polarization, and more.

Luckily, with the DuckDuckGo app for Android, you have an all-in-one solution that can help you by not only protecting you in search, browsing, and email but also enforcing protection against third-party app trackers.

How App Tracking Protection for Android Works

You see, when App Tracking Protection is enabled, it will detect when other apps on your phone are about to send data to any of the third-party tracking companies in our app tracking dataset and block most of those requests.

And that’s it! You can continue to use your apps as usual, and App Tracking Protection will continue to run in the background to block trackers every time it encounters them, even while you sleep.

In addition, DuckDuckGo on Android provides a real-time view of the results of App Tracking Protection, including the tracking network associated with each app and the data they are known to collect. If you have notifications enabled, you will also receive automatic summaries if desired.

App Tracking Protection uses a local VPN connection, which means it works its magic directly on your smartphone without sending app data to DuckDuckGo or other remote servers. In other words, App Tracking Protection does not route your app data through outside companies (including ours).

We Still Want to Hear from You!

As always, customer feedback means a lot to the DuckDuckGo team, so as they move forward in their beta phase, they invite you to send them general comments or report problems with the application. To do so, you can go to Settings > Share Feedback (in the Other section). 

For example, if you are having problems with another app on your smartphone as a result of App Tracking Protection, you can turn off protection for just that app under “Problems with an app.” You will then be asked to provide details about the problem you experienced. Your feedback helps the team a lot to keep improving app tracking protection!

Get Started

Well, signing up is very easy! In fact, you can get access to the beta of App Tracking Protection, find it in your settings.

  • Download DuckDuckGo for  Android  (or update to the latest version 5.143.1).
  • Open Settings > App Tracking Protection (in the More from DuckDuckGo section).
  • Go through the onboarding (including allowing the VPN connection) and you’re all set!
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