Google will let competitors appear for free as default search engine options on Android

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Google will ditch an auction system that forces other vendors to bid for the right to be featured as the default search engine option on Android. Following antitrust and law enforcement action in 2018, Europeans were able to choose which basic apps and services they use on Android by default, instead of having to use Google products in first.

Users in the region see an Android choice screen when setting up a device or after performing a factory reset. They can select their default search engine from a number of options. However, the three vendors that are shown next to Google search were determined through a sealed bidding process.

Some competing search engines have called the pay-to-play method . The European Commission said that it came after competitors signaled their doubts about the approach. The EC “has discussed with Google ways to improve this prime display to address these concerns.”

“Following further comments from the Commission, we are now making the latest changes to the screen of choice, including making participation free for qualifying search providers,” Oliver Bethell, Google’s competition manager for the Europe, the Middle East and Africa, . “We will also be increasing the number of search engines displayed on screen. These changes will take effect from September of this year on Android devices.”

The screen of choice redesigned up to 12 search engine options. The one you choose is the default for Home screen searches and Chrome, if you’re using it as your browser. Your device will also install this provider’s search app.

Only general search engines are eligible and they must have a free search app on the Play Store. Vertical search engines (i.e. specialized or topic specific) will be locked out. Vendors who syndicate Google’s search results and ads will also not be on the list. The changes will take effect for new Android devices sold in the UK and the European Economic Area by September 1.

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