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What is Android's new Ad Topics feature and how do you disable it?

Android now has a feature that keeps tabs on your topics of interest, based on the apps you use. If you'd like to disable this new tracking option, here's how.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Google Pixel 7 and 7 Pro on table
Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

Google is always looking for ways to monetize your habits. The technology company's primary method for making money is through ads and it has a set of tactics. At the same time, Google makes it possible for users to disable the ad-tracking features that are added to Android.

That's the case with the new Ad Topics feature. With this feature, Google notes the topics that might be of interest to you based on the apps you use. After a topic has been assigned, other apps can then ask Android to share those topics for an even more "personalized ad experience". 

Also: Change this Android setting to instantly double your phone speed

Although Google's new Ad Topics feature might not sound too intrusive to some, to others it's an outright invasion of privacy. The silver lining of this feature is that it's a part of Google's Privacy Sandbox initiative that introduces new technology capable of operating without cross-app identifiers, including the Advertising ID. This technology means Google is now capable of personalizing advertisements on Android without creating a security risk. It's an effective technology that is long overdue.

However, that silver lining still doesn't mean everyone will want to allow Ad Topics to personalize the ads they are shown within apps. And if that feature sounds like an invasion of your privacy, keep reading.

Also: How to add reading mode to your Android devices (and why you should)

Before we continue, it's worth noting that Ad Topics is new enough that not all apps have been rebuilt to take advantage of the feature. Google has made it possible that you can see how many topics have been discovered from the Ad privacy page within Settings. Looking at my page, it's clear that no topics have been found. It will probably take time before this feature starts collecting topics.

The Ad privacy dashboard found in Android 13.

The Ad Topics feature is so new that it's yet to collect topics.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

How to disable Ad Topics on Android

What you'll need: To disable Ad Topics, you'll need an Android device that supports the feature. If you're not using a Pixel device, this feature might take some time to roll out to your phone. I'll demonstrate this process on a Pixel 7 Pro.

1. Open Settings

The first thing to do is open the Settings app. You can do this by either pulling the Notification Shade down twice and tapping the gear icon or tapping the Settings launcher in the App Drawer.

2. Accessing the Ad Topics page

The Ad Topics enable/disable switch is buried a few layers deep within the Settings app. To find the switch, navigate to Settings > Security & privacy > More privacy settings > Ads > Ad privacy > Ad topics. Once on this page, tap the On/Off slider until it's in the Off position to disable Ad Topics.

The Ad Topics On/Off slider.

A tap of the switch and the Ad Topics feature is disabled.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Once you've disabled the feature, you don't have to worry that Android will track topics of interest and share them with the apps you've installed. 

Also: How to find out which apps are draining your Android battery

If you opt to leave the feature enabled, you should know that the Privacy Sandbox goes a long way to prevent security issues that can accompany ad tracking. But if you are an advocate of privacy, you might want to disable the feature.

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