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Google now offers more choice of search engines on Android

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You will soon be able to get more options for the Android search engine, this in Europe. Google announced which ruled out an auction system where companies paid or had a chance to be included in Android’s search choice screen in Europe. It will also include more than the four existing options.

The Internet giant will now allow qualified Android search providers to participate for free following “more feedback” (read: pressure) from the European Commission. As Bloomberg noted last month, EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the auction system wasn’t right and the EU was “actively working” on a solution. In other words, Google risked more regulatory action if it didn’t act first.

Google launched auctions in 2018 in response to the EU’s €4.34 billion competition fine for alleged anti-competitive behavior, which included a requirement that the company distribute its search engine outside of Google Play.

Google now offers more choice of search engines on Android

The company said its “pay to play” approach to the search choice screen helped competition, but rival engines criticized it. They said the paid system not only made it harder for smaller search providers, it punished alternative business models (such as the Ecosia tree planting engine) and had few slots.

That doesn’t mean you’ll always see Ecosia, DuckDuckGo or other alternative search engines when setting up a new Android phone in Europe. You’ll certainly see more options, however, and may see mechanisms that rarely (if ever) were options in the past.

That’s good news if you’re not a fan of Google search or just want more flexibility when customizing your devices.

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