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Google is making key changes to Android, Chrome, Search, and more in Europe

The new updates are aimed at making Google's products and services compliant with Europe's Digital Markets Act.
By
January 18, 2024
Android statue CES 2024
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Google has started testing and rolling out a number of changes to its products and services in Europe.
  • The new updates are the company’s response to the EU’s upcoming Digital Markets Act that goes into effect in March.
  • Changes are coming to Android, Search, Chrome, and more.

Europe is all set to adopt the Digital Markets Act (DMA) on March 6, 2024. As a result, Google is starting to test and make changes across its products and services in the region. The update shared by the company mentions how Android, Chrome, Search, and other Google services will be changing for European users in the near future.

If you use an Android phone in the US, you will soon be able to switch your default search engine or browser more easily. Under the DMA, Google will be obliged to show an additional choice screen during the setup process of an Android phone. The Chrome desktop and iOS app will also display this choice screen.

Google currently shares user data across all its services and products, but that’s also about to change for EU users. The company says it will present people in Europe with an additional consent banner to ask them if some services can continue to share data for things like content and ad personalization.

Google will also offer EU users a choice to keep certain services linked, such as YouTube, Search, Ad services, Google Play, Chrome, and more. Users can choose to keep all these services linked, have none of them linked, or select which of these individual services they want to keep linked.

Google warns some features may not work if users opt out of linking services.

When linked, these services will be able to share user data with each other and with all other Google services.

The company also warns that some features may not work if users opt out of linking. For instance, if you de-link Search, YouTube, and Chrome, recommendations like “What to watch” in Search and your Discover feed will be less personalized.

Search results will also see changes in Europe. Over the next few weeks, Google will tweak results for queries such as hotel recommendations or buying a product.

“We will introduce dedicated units that include a group of links to comparison sites from across the web, and query shortcuts at the top of the search page to help people refine their search, including by focusing results just on comparison sites,” the company said. “For categories like hotels, we will also start testing a dedicated space for comparison sites and direct suppliers to show more detailed individual results, including images, star ratings, and more,” it added.

Lastly, Google will also test a Data Portability API for developers to help users move their data from Google services to third-party services.

While Google is going ahead and making these changes in anticipation of the DMA, it’s not too happy about the whole situation.

“While we support many of the DMA’s ambitions around consumer choice and interoperability, the new rules involve difficult trade-offs, and we’re concerned that some of these rules will reduce the choices available to people and businesses in Europe,” the company said, concluding its announcement.

The updates announced will take effect gradually. Google says it will share more details on the final changes it’s making ahead of the March deadline.