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Google allows users in India to choose default search engine on Android phones

After failing to get a court order to block an antitrust ruling, Google said on Wednesday it will allow users in India to choose the default search engine on Android smartphones.

As part of the major changes the tech giant will make to its platforms and operations in India in the wake of the landmark CCI ruling, OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) will be able to license individual Google apps for pre-installation on their devices. Google is also updating Android compatibility requirements to reflect changes for partners to build non-compliant or forked variants, the company said in its blog.

Last week, the Supreme Court denied a stay of an order from the Competition Commission of India (CCI) fined Google Rs 1,337.76 crore for exploiting its dominance of its popular Android operating system, which uses 97 percent of the powering about 60 crore smartphones in India.

CCI has again fined the US tech giant Rs 936 crore in a case related to Play Store policy.

“We take our commitment to comply with local laws and regulations in India seriously. The CCI’s recent guidelines for Android and Play require us to make significant changes for India, and today we briefed the CCI on how we will comply with their guidelines,” Google said in the blog.

The changes include giving original equipment manufacturers or smartphone manufacturers the freedom to license individual Google apps for pre-installation on their devices.

“Android users have always been able to customize their devices according to their preferences,” it said. “Indian users now have the option to choose their default search engine through a selection screen that will soon appear when a user purchases 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 considered anti-competitive, but the company argues that such agreements help keep Android free.

Last October, CCI said in its order that licenses for Google’s Play Store “will not be tied to the requirement to pre-install” Google search services, the Chrome browser, YouTube or other Google applications.

The order asked Google to allow the removal of its apps like Google Maps and YouTube, which currently cannot be uninstalled from Android phones when pre-installed.

“We are updating the Android compatibility requirements to reflect changes for partners to build non-compliant or forked variants,” Google said in the blog.

User-choice billing will be available for all apps and games starting next month, it said, and adding user-choice billing will allow developers to give users the option to choose an alternative billing system in addition to Google Play’s billing system when purchasing in-app digital content .

“Android has always supported installing apps from a variety of sources, including sideloading, which downloads apps directly from a developer’s website. We recently made changes to the Android install flow and automatic update capability for sideloaded apps and app stores while ensuring users understand the potential security risks.

Google said it is also expanding its online resources, such as Help Center articles and FAQs, to provide more information about the services provided by Google Play and how and when Google Play’s service fees apply.

Google said it was a privilege to play a role in India’s embrace of technology to improve lives in three key ways. These include access to affordable devices, building convenient and secure products to meet the changing needs of Indian users, and partnering with India’s vibrant developer community to grow and reach a global audience.

“We will continue to respectfully appeal certain aspects of the CCI’s decisions and will defend our core principles of openness, expanding user choice, providing transparency, and maintaining safety and security that have served the interests of the larger ecosystem said the blog post.

However, Google said it is making some changes as required by the CCI’s guidelines. “Implementing these changes across the entire ecosystem will be a complex process and will require significant work on our part and, in many cases, significant effort from partners, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and developers,” Google said.

Google said its commitment to Indian users and the country’s digital transformation is “fearless”. Through Android, Google has contributed significantly to the mobile ecosystem by providing OEMs with unprecedented choice and flexibility, providing basic compatibility for developers, enabling them to scale their services around the world. devices and provide a safe, secure and trusted platform for users in India and around the world, the blog said.

“This has helped local developers build successful businesses and find a global audience for their apps and games, resulting in a 150 percent increase in the time users spent outside India in 2021 compared to 2019 on Google Play,” the company said.

Google went on to say it believes technology can help unlock opportunities in core areas of India’s economy, adding “we look forward to continuing to work together on this journey”.

Read all the latest India news here

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and was published from a syndicated news agency feed)

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