Google says will allow users in India to choose default search engine on Android phones
After failing to get a court order to block an antitrust ruling, Google on Wednesday said it will allow users in India to choose default search engine on Android-based smartphones.
Last week, the Supreme Court refused a stay a Competition Commission of India (CCI) order slapping a Rs 1,337.76 crore fine on Google for exploiting its dominant position of its popular Android operating system, which powers 97 per cent of around 60 crore smartphones in India. CCI imposed another Rs 936 crore penalty on the US tech giant in a case related to its Play Store policies.
"We take our commitment to comply with local laws and regulations in India seriously. The CCI's recent directives for Android and Play require us to make significant changes for India, and today we've informed the CCI of how we will be complying with their directives," Google said in a blog.
The changes include allowing original equipment manufacturers or smartphone makers the liberty to license individual Google apps for pre-installation on their devices.
"Android users have always been able to customise their devices to suit their preferences," it said. "Indian users will now have the option to choose their default search engine via a choice screen that will soon start to appear when a user sets up a new Android smartphone or tablet in India." Google licenses its Android system to smartphone makers, with conditions such as mandatory pre-installation of its own apps. This condition was seen as anti-competitive but the company argues that such agreements help keep Android free.
In October last year, CCI had in its order said that licensing of Google's Play Store "shall not be linked with the requirement of pre-installing" Google search services, the Chrome browser, YouTube or any other Google applications.
The order asked Google to allow the uninstalling of its apps such as Google Maps and YouTube, which currently cannot be deleted from Android phones when they come pre-installed.
"We're updating the Android compatibility requirements to introduce changes for partners to build non-compatible or forked variants," Google said in the blog.
User choice billing will be available to all apps and games starting next month, it said, adding through user choice billing, developers can offer users the option to choose an alternative billing system alongside Google Play's billing system when purchasing in-app digital content.
"Android has always supported the installation of apps from a variety of sources, including via sideloading, which involves app downloads directly from a developer's website. We recently made changes to the Android installation flow and auto-updating capability for sideloaded apps and app stores while ensuring users understand the potential security risks," it said.
Google said it is also expanding its online resources such as Help Center articles and FAQs to provide more detail on services provided by Google Play and how and when Google Play's service fee applies.