Last year Google had to face a heavy fine of $5 billion by the European Union for antitrust relating to pre-installing its apps and services on Android phones. The European Commission accused Google of forcing Android phone manufacturers to illegally tie its apps and services like Chrome browser and Google Search app to Android, thereby blocking competitors from reaching the users.
Following that Google announced some major changes for its Android mobile operating system. Google decided to change the way it licenses the Google mobile application suite to Android smartphone makers. They would start offering the manufacturers paid licenses for the Play Store and Google’s apps, search engine, and Chrome.
According to a blog post, Google announced that the company would prompt Android phone owners in Europe (new and existing ones) in the coming months to choose from a variety of web browsers and search engines for their devices as their default apps.
They said that they would make sure that Android phone owners know about the wide choice of browsers and search engines available to download. For this, the existing and new Android users in Europe will be asked about their preference of browser and search apps they would like to use.
It is expected that the prompt might appear during the phone setup phase.
This new licensing scheme is applicable only to Android devices used in the European Economic Area (comprises the 28 EU countries) and the phone makers must obtain separate, paid licenses if they want to include:
- Play Store, Maps, Gmail, and YouTube without Chrome, and Search
- Everything, including Chrome, and Search
The smartphone manufacturers in Europe can install any app as alternatives to Google apps without the need to use Google Search and Chrome.
Google claims that the Android users are always been free to download any browser and search engine apps they wish to use, irrespective of the default pre-installed one on the phone. It is estimated that a typical Android phone user will install around 50 additional apps on their phone.
The company has bought about such a change to prove the European Union its continued commitment to operating in an open and principled way.
In the latest blog post, the company also announced some changes to Google Shopping, which includes providing direct links to comparison shopping sites, alongside specific product offers from merchants.