Last year the Competition Commission of India (CCI) slapped Google with a fine for restricting third-party payment services and was investigating the company for other anti-competitive behavior too. After Google’s recent plea to the Supreme Court to block CCI’s orders was rejected, the company has to change its agreements with phone makers and loosen the rules for users.
Starting next month Android users in India will be able to use third-party billing services for apps and games. They will also be able to choose a different default search engine using a choice screen during setup. These particular rules apply only in India, though other regions have put in place similar rules.
As for smartphone makers, they will be allowed to license individual Google apps to pre-install on the devices they ship. Previously, makers were forced to bundle the whole Google suite.
Google will continue to appeal CCI’s decision, but for now it is working on implementing the following changes:
- OEMs will be able to license individual Google apps for pre-installation on their devices.
- Android users have always been able to customize their devices to suit their preferences. Indian users will now have the option to choose their default search engine via a choice screen that will soon start to appear when a user sets up a new Android smartphone or tablet in India.
- We’re updating the Android compatibility requirements to introduce changes for partners to build non-compatible or forked variants.
- User choice billing will be available to all apps and games starting next month. Through user choice billing, developers can offer users the option to choose an alternative billing system alongside Google Play’s billing system when purchasing in-app digital content.
- Android has always supported the installation of apps from a variety of sources, including via sideloading, which involves app downloads directly from a developer’s website. We recently made changes to the Android installation flow and auto-updating capability for sideloaded apps and app stores while ensuring users understand the potential security risks.
A few days ago Google also agreed to allow third-party app stores to be listed on the Google Play Store, also under pressure from the CCI (check out the Reuters report for more details).