Google Adds Search and Browser Ballot Screens to Android in the EU

Posted on April 18, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Google with 10 Comments

Google will implement new Search and Browser ballot screens in Android in the European Union in the coming weeks, the search giant said. The changes are designed to comply with a 2018 European Commission ruling that found Google guilty of abusing its monopoly powers.

“We’ll start presenting new screens to Android users in Europe with an option to download search apps and browsers,” Google’s Paul Gennai explains. “These new screens will be displayed the first time a user opens Google Play after receiving an upcoming update.”

There will be two different screens, one for search and one for the web browser, and each will contain a total of five choices, just like the Browser Ballot (Browser Choice) screen that Microsoft added to Windows back in the early 2000s because of a similar EU antitrust charge. Apps will be listed based on their popularity and shown in a random order, though apps that are already installed—including, yes, Google’s own apps—will be shown at the top.

“Users can tap to install as many apps as they want,” Gennai continues. “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.”

Google says these changes will roll out to new and existing Android handsets in Europe over the next few weeks. It will also evolve the implementation based on feedback, and if I know the EU like I think I do, they’ll be asking for Google to not give its preinstalled apps preferential treatment on those screens.

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Comments (10)

10 responses to “Google Adds Search and Browser Ballot Screens to Android in the EU”

  1. navarac

    Another reason for Brexit then !!

  2. rm

    The #2 search site Bing is not listed, and Google is listed first. I remember that Microsoft had to randomize the order for browser installs. Seems Google has work to do with these lists! Funny Google still puts itself at the top of this lists just like it's search results it was rigging!

  3. chrishilton1

    no Bing search then...

  4. dcdevito

    Since switching to the iPhone, I’m trying to see how much I can de-Google myself.

    I’ve been using DuckDuckGo and find it quite useable. I’ve also switched to Apple Maps and this far hasn’t gotten me lost anywhere yet, lol. I’m also using my address in Outlook while trying to not use my gmail address, and using Siri for the things I used Assistant for (reminders, events, texts + Siri shortcuts). I was already using OneDrive for my cloud storage along with Office 365 apps.

    So far the experiment is going ether than planned.

  5. arknu

    Not this nonsense again! Just like on Windows, you have been able to change browser and other default apps on Android since v1. No need for these silly screens. If users are too stupid to install alternatives, they won't install them by being shown a screen.

    Meanwhile, you still cannot change the default browser on iOS... Or for that matter even install a different browser, since all "browsers" on iOS are just wrappers around Safari anyway.

    • ponsaelius

      In reply to arknu:

      People may have been able to change it but normal users may not even know there is a choice. Just ask people. It's not a big thing really. Users who normally just leave the default can now decide.

      It will hurt almost no-one and maybe introduce some users to new stuff.

  6. bill_russell

    Wonder what will happen if chromebooks became dominant enough. They would suddenly found to be illegally abusing a dominant position just by reaching a threshold of market share. Then a ballot would be required there too and then called Firefoxbook or Edgebook, etc.

  7. dontbe evil

    of course you forgot to mention that they're already in trouble, because for some strange reason "google" and "chrome" are always on the top of the list

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