Last year, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) fined Google for restricting third-party payment services and is investigating other anti-competitive practices by the company. After Google’s recent petition to the Supreme Court to block the CCI’s order was rejected, the company had to change its agreement with cell phone makers and relax its rules for users.
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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 use a different default search engine of their choice during the setup process. These specific rules apply only to India, but similar rules have been set up in other regions as well.
As for smartphone manufacturers, they will be allowed to license separate Google apps to be pre-installed on the devices they ship. Previously, manufacturers were forced to bundle the entire Google suite of apps.
Google will continue to appeal the CCI’s decision, but for now it is working to implement the following changes.
OEMs will be able to obtain licenses for individual Google apps to be pre-installed on their devices.
Android users will always be able to customize their devices to their liking. Indian users will now be able to select their default search engine, and that display will soon appear when users set up a new Android smartphone or tablet in India.
Android compatibility requirements are being updated to introduce changes for partner builds of incompatible or forked variants.
Starting next month, user choice billing will apply to all apps and games. With user choice billing, developers can let users choose other billing systems as well as 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 through sideloading, which involves downloading apps directly from developer websites. Recent changes have been made to the Android installation process and automatic update feature for sideloaded apps and the app store, while ensuring that users are aware of potential security risks.
A few days ago, Google also agreed to allow third-party app stores to be listed on the Google Play Store, again due to pressure from the CCI.