Google acts on CCI order: Android users can now choose their default search engine
Manufacturers will be able to license individual Google apps for pre-installation on smartphones, and Android users will now have the option to choose a default search engine on their devices, the tech giant said on Wednesday.
This follows the Supreme Court’s refusal to grant Google any interim relief against an order by the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal that had upheld an antitrust decision by the Competition Commission of India (CCI).
The CCI had imposed a fine of Rs 1,337.76 crore on Google for anti-competitive practices and also a fresh fine of Rs 936.44 crore on the company for abusing its dominant position through the Play Store guidelines.
In a blog post, Google said: “We take our commitment to comply with local laws and regulations in India very seriously. CCI’s recent directives for Android and Play require us to make significant changes for India and today we have informed CCI how we will comply with their directives.”
Google said it is making the necessary changes, the implementation of which will be a complex process that will require significant efforts, including from partners, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and developers.
It listed several key changes that Google will make to its platforms and operations in India. For example, OEMs will be able to license individual Google apps for pre-installation on their devices. “Android users have always been able to customize their devices to suit their preferences. Indian users will now have the option to select their default search engine via a selection screen that will soon start appearing when a user sets up a new Android smartphone or tablet in India,” it added.
Google is also updating the Android compatibility requirements to introduce changes for partners to build non-compatible or forked variants. Another change it noted was the availability of user-choice billing for all apps and games starting next month. “Through User Choice Billing, developers can offer users the option to choose an alternative billing system alongside Google Play’s billing system when purchasing digital content within the app.”
Android has always supported installing apps from a variety of sources, including via sideloading, which involves app downloads directly from a developer’s website, the blog post pointed out. “Google has recently made changes to the Android installation flow and auto-update capability for sideloaded apps and app stores, while ensuring users understand the potential security risks.”
Google is also expanding its online resources such as support articles and FAQs to provide more details about services provided by Google Play and how and when Google Play service fees were spent, Google said.
Local developers have built successful businesses and found global audiences for their apps and games, resulting in a 150 percent increase in time spent by users outside India in 2021 compared to 2019 on Google Play. “We believe technology can help open up opportunities in core areas of the Indian economy, and we look forward to continuing to collaborate on this journey,” the blog said.