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Big changes in store for Android in India, may affect it globally (Updated)
- Google is making changes to Android in India following a ruling from the Competition Commission of India.
- The ruling will force Google to change how it approaches things like sideloaded apps and app stores, user choice billing, default search engine choice, and more.
- It’s possible that this change could affect how Android operates in other parts of the world.
Update: March 29, 2023 (10:51 AM ET): According to TechCrunch, Google has received some relief from the CCI’s ruling. Google will no longer be required to distribute third-party app stores through the Play Store. However, third-party app stores are still allowed to be sideloaded. Google has also been granted relief from the CCI’s order which demanded Google not deny OEMs, developers, and competitors access to its Play Services APIs. Additionally, the ruling to not restrict developers from distributing apps through sideloading has also been eased.
Original article: January 25, 2023 (11:34 AM ET): After India’s Supreme Court upheld an antitrust order from the Competition Commission of India (CCI) last Thursday, Google was ordered to change how it runs its Android platform. The company has now revealed how it plans to comply with the country’s laws and regulations, which could lead to big changes for Android in other parts of the world in the future.
Today, Google announced that it’s making some major updates to Android and Google Play in India to follow directives laid out by the CCI. The key changes coming to the ecosystem Google pointed out include:
- Original equipment manufacturers are now able to license individual Google apps for pre-installation on their devices.
- Users have the option to choose their default search engine through a choice screen that appears when setting up a new Android smartphone or tablet in India.
- Android compatibility requirements have been changed to allow partners to build non-compatible or forked variants.
- Developers can offer users the option to choose an alternative billing system to Google Play’s billing system when purchasing in-app digital content starting next month.
- The installation flow and auto-updating capability on Android for sideloaded apps and app stores have been changed.
- Google has expanded its online resources to provide more detail on services provided by Google Play and how and when Google Play’s service fee applies.
In addition to announcing these changes, the search giant also stated it’s working to appeal some aspects of the CCI’s decisions. Some of these demands included refraining from agreements that ensure exclusivity of its search services, mandatory pre-installation of its apps, and allowing third-party app stores to be housed within its Play Store.
Although these changes only affect the Indian market, for now, it’s not unlikely for these changes to have larger implications for Android going forward. It’s possible we could see some of these changes find their way to the rest of the world down the road, similar to how the EU’s ruling on USB-C on phones is forcing Apple to adopt the charging standard.