In 2019, Google announced a few upcoming changes to how Android works within the European Union – in particular, giving its users a wider selection of search engines to populate the search box on the screen. ‘home or be used by default in Google Chrome.
Also in 2019, the company said that its competitors would have to go through an auction system in order to have the option to appear on a screen of choice on Android devices destined for Europe.
It’s worth mentioning that the European Commission, which is the European Union’s antitrust authority, fined Google 4.24 billion euros (roughly $ 5.16 billion) for attempting (and let’s face it -le, succeeded) to establish its dominance over other search engine rivals, after those rivals raised many concerns about unfair advantages and anti-competition.
Now is the time to face the music and, according to Google, it will display, in random order, five of the most popular search engines in each country in the European Union, at the top of the screen. Seven more will be set up downstairs.
“Following further comments from the Commission, we are now making some final changes to the choice screen, including making participation free for eligible research providers,”Oliver Bethell, general counsel at Google, said in a blog post “We will also increase the number of search engines displayed on the screen. These changes will take effect from September this year on Android devices.
Instead of having to go through an auction to secure a spot on Android, search providers will only need an app that’s available on the Play Store and no vendors who get their search results from. Google will not be taken into consideration.
While search engines like Ecosia have welcomed the change, DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg isn’t convinced Google is doing enough.
In one posting on Twitter, Weinberg said that “Google is now doing what it should have done three years ago: a free search preference menu on Android in the EU. However, it should be on all platforms, e.g. Desktop Chrome, accessible at all times, i.e. not just on factory reset, and in all countries.. “
Bethell, on the other hand, adds in her post that Google has “We have always believed in giving people and businesses choice and competing on the merits of our services. And we know people choose Google because it’s useful; not because there are no alternatives. That is why we will continue to invest in Google and Android search to make them the most useful products available, and we appreciate the open dialogue with the European Commission on these areas.
This change will be available for Android smartphones from September 1, 2021 and will not feature any search engine providers like Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, Bing and others. If you already have an Android device, have selected your search engine but want to make a change, unfortunately you will have to reset your device to factory settings and start the entire setup process again.