Decoding Google’s message about Android’s evolution in India

Google is finally in compliance with the Competition Commission of India (CCI) mandate after a recent legal battle. At the very least, some of what CCI mentioned in its report late last year should be adhered to. Google India is now open to legal options, but at the same time says it is making some changes to how Android and Play work in India.

A spokesperson for Google India said, “We continue to respect certain aspects of CCI’s decision and continue to advocate for the core of openness, increasing user choice, providing transparency, and maintaining safety and security. We have championed our principles and contributed to the benefit of the greater ecosystem.” statement. In a report last year, the CCI cracked down on perceived anti-competitive behavior by tech giants within the smartphone ecosystem.

Some of the issues the directive mentioned later became disputed, including the licensing of Android to phone makers on the condition that these phones come pre-installed with the Google app; It includes the lack of choice in deciding which web browser to use. The inability to uninstall preloaded Google apps from the phone and the lack of third-party billing options in the Play Store for developers and consumers.

“However, we are making some changes as directed by CCI. It will require a lot of effort from partners, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and developers,” said Google India.

Also read:US sues Google for control of online advertising market

So what are the key changes Google will implement for Android in India?

Unbundling a bundle: First and foremost, they say, OEMs (think phone makers, tablet makers, and pretty much any Android device brand) will be able to license individual Google apps that can be pre-installed on the devices they sell. increase. Google does not specifically mention here any costs, bundles or apps that may be included in the exception list.

The preloaded Google app bundle has so far been part of the Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (MADA) that Google has confirmed with phone manufacturers. The mobile phone maker is mostly happy to adopt his MADA in its current configuration. That’s because Google gives you even more freedom to customize. This helps in differentiation and possibly monetization. Samsung’s One UI and Xiaomi’s MIUI are the result of that flexibility.

“Choice screen”: Google also gives users in India the option to choose a default search engine within Android. There is a selection screen that appears as part of setting up a new Android device. However, it’s not clear if this option will be available later in case users want to switch to a different search engine.

The European Union (EU) fined Google $4.3 billion for anti-competitive conduct in 2018. Last year, Google’s appeal was dismissed. After the EU ruling, Google had to offer users an alternative. As a result, from September 2021, Android devices sold in Europe and the UK will have a “selection screen”. Users can choose default apps or services for web browsers and search engines.

Variety and android: Google also said it would allow “partners to build incompatible or forked variants” to mitigate issues with Android fragmentation that caused many devices to stick with older versions of Android. Allow Over time, data privacy and security issues have also arisen. This is often because the underlying structures of older operating systems (OS) weren’t robust enough to deal with new online threats.

It is not yet known how regular security and feature updates work for forked Android implementations.

Play Billing Exclusivity Suspension: Google will also implement Play Store billing options in the next month. “User Choice Billing allows developers to provide users with the option to select a billing system other than Google Play’s billing system when purchasing in-app digital content,” said Google India. .

This comes after Google suspended plans to make the Google Play billing system mandatory for app developers in India.

In 2021 in South Korea, Google added another payment system for Play Store developers to choose from. New laws prohibit app platforms from monopolizing payment methods. The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) fined him $176.64 million to Google in September of that year for antitrust practices.

A more comprehensive Android: While Google doesn’t officially support or allow third-party app stores as an alternative to its own Google Play store, Android’s application store, the tech giant has leaned forward from a standstill. Android says it will accept apps installed from other sources, including sideloading (the process of sending an app’s installation file to the device and initiating the installation from its storage), and will also ensure automatic updates of these apps. increase.

“We recently made changes to Android’s installation flow and auto-update functionality for sideloaded apps and app stores while ensuring users understand potential security risks,” they said. say.

What Google is ignoring for now: The CCI first imposed ¥Google has been fined 1,338 kroner for what is classified as “abuse of its dominant position in multiple categories related to the Android mobile device ecosystem” in India. continue, ¥A fine of Rs 936.44 crore was added for “abusing a dominant market position with respect to Play Store policies”, which included a provision for compulsory use of the Google Play billing system.

“The penalties imposed on Google by the CCI center around how the tech giant abused its dominant position in the market and relied on the unfair practices of the Android mobile operating system (OS) and the Play Store ecosystem. Deploying Alliance for Digital India Foundation (ADIF).

The popularity of Android makes it imperative to address anti-competitive behavior. According to the latest figures by web analytics platform StatCounter, Android’s market share in India is 95.69%. Apple’s iOS has his 3.54% share. Affordable mobile phones are at the heart of Android’s popularity.

“Rather than complying with all 10 of the CCI’s Directives, Google wrote that it had notified the CCI how it would comply. We have listed a few points and also in the way Google would like to comply. We did,” said CEO and Executive Rohan Verma. Director of Indian tech company MapmyIndia.

Uninstalling already-installed apps: Google says changes are coming to MADA, giving phone makers the flexibility to choose which individual Google apps to preload if they want, but preloaded apps The ability to uninstall apps is barely mentioned. something that can’t be done.

“Why doesn’t Google allow users to uninstall Google Maps and other apps? Despite CCI instructions. Google does not allow users to uninstall all other apps. Similarly, why isn’t Google allowing other app stores to be distributed through the Google Play store, despite CCI’s instructions to do so?” Verma of a points out.

Currently, it is not possible to uninstall apps such as Google’s own Messages, Calendar, Drive cloud storage, Files by Google, Gmail, Google Search, Google Maps (with some rare exceptions on most Android phones). ). At best, you can disable some (or all) of these apps on your device.

HT also found that while some Android phones allow you to disable certain Google apps, it’s not a standard practice. No options. Attempts to change the behavior of Google’s preloaded service often lead to system instability and broken app functionality.

App Store in Play Store: The tech giant hasn’t even addressed the issue of third-party app stores. . The tech giant has remained silent about any policy changes regarding it.

In its order, CCI clearly states that “Google will not restrict users from uninstalling pre-installed apps.”

At this time, Google does not allow third party app stores to be hosted on the Play Store. The only way to bypass the Play Store on a regular basis is to download a third-party app store installation file and install it on your phone. Easy to say, hard to do.

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