[Update: In testing] Google to add search provider choices in Android to comply with EU ruling

[Update: In testing] Google to add search provider choices in Android to comply with EU ruling

Update (10/1/19 @ 9:50 AM ET): Google is testing showing search provider choices in Android ahead of the 2020 rollout.

Android users in Europe can now look forward to easily selecting between a host of search providers, as Google has just announced an upcoming change to how Android would function in the European Union. From 2020 onwards, Android smartphone and tablet users in Europe will be able to select a search provider that will power the search box on their home screen, as well as be used as the default search provider within Google Chrome, if the browser is installed. This change is part of the steps that Google has taken to comply with the European Commission’s ruling on Android.

Search Provider Choices in Google Search and Google Chrome for users in the European Economic Area

This change is limited to all new Android phones and tablets that will be shipped into the European Economic Area (EEA) in 2020, where the Google Search app will be pre-installed. In its blog post, Google reiterates that Android users are free to customize and personalize their devices in whichever manner they deem fit, including the apps they can download and how the apps are arranged on the homescreen.

Google has also opened up the application process for search providers to be listed on the above screen. Eligible search providers will need to fill out an application form and can bid for inclusion based on an auction. Auctions will be conducted on a per-country basis and will be valid for a duration of one year. In each country, search providers will have to state the price that they are willing to pay each time a user selects them from the choice screen in the given country, and the top three bidders that exceed the minimum bid price will appear in the choice screen for that country. The auction winners, and Google, will be ordered randomly in the choice screen. If the bid process fails to get three entities that exceed the minimum bid price, the remaining slots will be filled randomly from the pool of eligible search providers (including those who applied to participate but did not submit a bid). Further details on the application process and other related questions are present on the application page.

In July 2018, the European Union found Google guilty of violating antitrust regulations, and subsequently imposed a fine of $5 Billion. The EU held that Google “imposed illegal restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators to cement its dominant position in general internet search.” After the ruling, Google announced changes to how it did business in the EU, allowing Android partners to build forked smartphones for the European Economic Area, and introducing a new paid licensing agreement for smartphones shipped into the EEA, among other changes. Later on, Google also announced that it will present additional app options for Search and Browser on smartphones for users in Europe. This latest move from Google should further appease the conditions laid down in the European Commission’s July 2018 Android ruling.

Source: Google Keyword Blog, Android Choicescreen


Update: In testing

Google appears to have begun testing search provider choices in Android. A new commit mentions a flag for “Search Engine Choice” in Chrome for Android, which enables showing search engine choice selection at the Android setup. It’s not currently possible to test this flag as it requires a Chrome data/factory reset, which then disables the flag. However, it does show that Google is preparing for the rollout in 2020.

Source: Chromium Gerrit

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