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Google expands search engine options for European Android users to address European Commission’s concerns on competition

Google on Tuesday announced that it will make it easier to set alternative search engines as default for Android users in Europe by making changes to the Choice Screen including making participation free for eligible search providers and increasing the number of search providers shown on the screen. These changes will go into effect for Android users in Europe and UK in September this year.

What is the Choice Screen?

In 2019, Google introduced a new way for Android users in Europe to select a search provider to power the search box on their home screen and as the default in Chrome (if installed). Users could select the search provider from a new Choice Screen that appears when someone is setting up a new Android device in Europe and UK. Search providers from different countries could apply to participate in an auction to be part of this Choice Screen and a maximum of four search providers (including Google) were shown on the choice screen to users.

Existing Android choice screen with up to four search providers determined by an auction process. Source: Google

The Choice Screen was one of the many changes Google made to Android following the European Commission’s 2018 ruling. Other changes include distributing Search separately from Google Play and making changes to allow users to easily install alternative search and browser apps by presenting them with a screen of options when the user first opens Play Store.

What is the latest update Google has made?

Google’s latest update to the Choice Screen allows eligible search providers to participate for free, unlike the paid auction process that was used previously. Furthermore, the number of search providers shown on the screen has been increased from four to twelve. The first five search engines will be determined by their popularity according to StatCounter but will be ordered randomly each time the choice screen is shown. This list will be refreshed annually. Seven more providers, chosen at random, will be shown below this.

This is the revised choice screen that will be shown to Android users in Europe when setting up the phone. Search providers vary by country. Source: Google

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