Google revealed today that it is making major changes to the Search Choice Screen that appears in Android in the European Union.
“We have been in constructive discussions with the European Commission for many years about how to promote even more choice on Android devices, while ensuring that we can continue to invest in, and provide, the Android platform for free for the long term,” Google’s Oliver Bethell writes. “Following further feedback from the Commission, we are now making some final changes to the Choice Screen.”
As you may recall, Google was forced to comply with a 2018 EU antitrust ruling that forced it to separate its search functionality from Google Play on Android. The result was a Search Choice Screen that Android customers encounter when setting up a new device that lets them choose the search engine they wish to use by default. (Google was also forced to provide a similar choice screen for web browsers.) Google first outlined these plans in April 2019, but it then pulled a Google by creating an auction by which search providers could compete with each other for placement on this screen by paying Google for the privilege.
With that in mind, today’s changes are both important and overdue. It will make participation in the Search Choice Screen free to all search providers. And it will increase the number of search providers shown on the screen. These changes will go live in September, Google says.
“We have always believed in offering people and businesses choice and competing on the merits of our services,” Bethell continues. “And we know that people choose Google because it’s helpful; not because there are no alternatives. That’s why we will continue to invest in Google Search and Android to make them the most helpful products available, and we appreciate the open dialog with the European Commission on these areas.”