Android users now get to choose their search engine

Android users now get to choose their search engine

Android users across Europe will now be able to choose the search engine they want to use on their phones and Google and Chrome will no longer be set as your default search engines.

This means that after the update is installed your next visit to Google Play Store will show two panels that asks you to choose from a selection of five browsers and five search engine apps you can install and optionally make it your phone’s default setting.

Previous to this move all Android phones came with Google and Chrome as its default search engine. But the European Union found that this was an abuse of Google’s dominant position in the market.

Users can tap to install as many apps as they want. If an additional search app or browser is installed, the user will be shown an additional screen with instructions on how to set up the new app – e.g. placing app icons and widgets or setting defaults.

Where a user downloads a search app from the screen, we’ll also ask them whether they want to change Chrome’s default search engine the next time they open Chrome.

- Paul Gennai: Product Management Director, Google

Google’s default setting of Google and Chrome had been the subject of the European Union’s anti-competitive enforcement policies and ended with the tech giant being fined $5 billion. Google are currently appealing against the fine but did agree to provide a choice in order to avoid any further financial penalties.

While the news was generally welcomed others were not so happy with Google’s efforts. In particular the main advocate behind the anti-competitive legal action, the pressure group Fair Search which itself is backed by Oracle and other tech companies was not impressed with Google’s efforts.

The Google choice screen for Android does nothing to correct the central problem that Google apps will remain the default on all Android devices. With Android holding 85 per cent of the global smartphone market, it is time for robust enforcement of the non-discrimination principle enshrined in the European Commission’s July 2018 decision condemning Google for abuse of dominance with regard to Android.

Google’s proposal for a choice screen is entirely ineffective and completely different from the one that Microsoft agreed with the European Commission.

- Press Statement: Fair Search

Fair Search’s mention of Microsoft refers back to 2010 when the EU fined Microsoft for making Internet Explorer the default search software for Windows. Then Microsoft were forced to include a dialog box in its operating system that allowed users to pick their own default browser.

Last week’s move by Google, like Microsoft’s before it, is only available in the European zone. In 2010 American regulators were not interested in implementing the new ruling against Microsoft and the same it seems is true with latest move involving Google.

Image: Sebastien Bertrand


A veteran freelance journalist writing extensively on internet news and cybersecurity.
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