Google to ask Android users in Europe to choose browser and search apps

20 Mar 2019205 Views

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Google makes changes in wake of €4.3bn fine from European Commission last July.

Google said it will prompt Android users in Europe to select their preferred search apps and browser.

In July 2018 the European Commission hit Google with a €4.3bn antitrust fine in relation to its business practices around the popular Android operating system, which runs on more than 85pc of the world’s smartphones, according to Gartner.

‘On Android phones, you’ve always been able to install any search engine or browser you want, irrespective of what came pre-installed on the phone when you bought it’
– KENT WALKER

EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager ruled that since 2011, Google has imposed illegal restrictions on Android device manufacturers including Samsung, Huawei and LG as well as mobile network operators to cement its dominant position in general internet search.

Variety is the spice of digital life

To avoid further sanctions, Google will highlight to users that they have other browser and search engine options on their devices.

“On Android phones, you’ve always been able to install any search engine or browser you want, irrespective of what came pre-installed on the phone when you bought it,” said Kent Walker, Google’s senior vice-president of global affairs.

“In fact, a typical Android phone user will usually install around 50 additional apps on their phone.

“After the commission’s July 2018 decision, we changed the licensing model for the Google apps we build for use on Android phones, creating new, separate licences for Google Play, the Google Chrome browser and for Google Search. In doing so, we maintained the freedom for phone makers to install any alternative app alongside a Google app.

“Now, we’ll also do more to ensure that Android phone owners know about the wide choice of browsers and search engines available to download to their phones. This will involve asking users of existing and new Android devices in Europe which browser and search apps they would like to use.

“We’ve always tried to give people the best and fastest answers – whether direct from Google or from the wide range of specialist websites and app providers out there today. These latest changes demonstrate our continued commitment to operating in an open and principled way,” Walker said.

John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist who served as editor of Siliconrepublic.com for 17 years.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com