Google to present browser and search choices to EU Android users
Deja Vu, anyone? Remember when Microsoft had to include a browser ballot screen in the company's Windows operating system for users from the European Union?
Now it is Google's turn to provide users from the European Union with similar options on Android. Google just revealed that Android users from the European Union will be presented with options to change the default search engine and browser.
The option is rolling out over the coming weeks, but the company has just published screenshots and information on the process.
The changes will be implemented in two different locations on existing and new Android devices. Google plans to display the screens that you see above to Android users when they open Google Play after the change has landed on the device.
Users get the change to install additional search providers and browsers on the Android device. The screens include installed applications as well as apps that are not installed; the latter are picked based on regional popularity and displayed in random order according to Google.
The screenshots above show search apps from DuckDuckGo, Qwant, Seznam.cz and Ecosia, and the browsers Firefox, Opera, Microsoft Edge, and Puffin.
Android users may install one or multiple of the offered apps with a tap on the install button. Google Play displays "an additional screen with instructions on how to set up the new app" according to Google.
If a search app is downloaded, Google Chrome will display a notification on next start that informs the user that the search engine can be changed. A link to the Settings is provided where that can be done.
Google implements these changes as a response to feedback provided by the European Union. The company was hit with a massive 4.34 billion Euro fine last year for unfair advantages over competition on Android. Most Android devices come with Google Chrome and Google Search preinstalled.
The change will certainly push other search engines and browsers on Android devices in the European Union. It is unclear by how much, but if Opera's experience back in 2010 is anything to go by, it could very well triple downloads easily.
Android users who don't open Google Play won't get these screens at all. The implementation is different from Microsoft's implementation almost ten years ago as it is linked to the Play Store and not displayed on first run.
Now You: What is your take on the decision and implementation?
I think larger companies prefer being blackmailed for “meh reasons” into government interference over being hold accountable themselves.
Also, luring all wrongthink to alternative technologies now (blockchain, VPN, privacy based browsers and search engines) makes a perfect target demographic to monitor and unlist later.
“Android users who don’t open Google Play won’t get these screens at all. The implementation is different from Microsoft’s implementation almost ten years ago as it is linked to the Play Store and not displayed on first run.”
What about an explicit choice of app store too ? Like F-Droid ? All the fun, none of the malware ? What about even allowing competitor app stores on Google Play ?
I don’t see Kiwi browser or Bromite browser on the list ;)
They should just ship Android with Chromium.
Brave browser is currently the best browser for Android IMHO.
If privacy is your main concern, you should know, that it always sends the exact name of your OS, browser and device to every website you visit! At least that was the case until recently. I’m not 100% sure if that’s still a problem now.. But it’s probably one of the biggest reasons why I try to avoid Brave on Android currently. That and the lack of add-on support :P
Perhaps Brave needs to send that information in order to better render webpages. I’m only guessing.
My reason for choosing Brave browser is its similarity to Chrome and its ability to block ads. I used to use Firefox for Android with AdBlock Plus add on and a dark grey theme, however I found Brave to work faster.
I am more concerned with speed and functionality than any privacy issues. I don’t see how it is an issue anyway. I’m pretty sure it isn’t legal for Google to sell customer specific information to insurance companies, credit providers, private investigators etc, or even police (without a warrant).
This is ultimately going to be good for consumers and good for the Android search and browser ecosystems. The vast majority of users aren’t aware they have a choice in those categories, and even those who are aware often don’t know how to do it or assume it’ll be too frustrating of a process.
So, we put the choice out in front of them and eliminate the friction involved in choosing something other than the default. Some people will switch for features like Firefox’s broad add-on ecosystem and ad-blockers, others will switch for style or just because. I’m sure other browsers have their own distinctives for people to love, too. And that dyanamic will help even those who stick with what they know, because the competition will make Google and Chrome better, too.
There’s a reason Chrome had to allow an add-on ecosystem with ad-blockers on Windows- which is that people knew they had a choice in browsers on that platform, and Firefox, among others, offered those features. The reason Chrome doesn’t have those features for Android is because too few people know there is competition and what it offers.
Really, the question those of us not in the European Union should be asking ourselves is not why the EU presses for things like this for their people, but why our governments don’t press for things like this for our people. And instead of asking why Google is complying there, we should ask why its still delivering an inferior experience to the rest of us that tries to hide our options from us.
“Really, the question those of us not in the European Union should be asking ourselves is not why the EU presses for things like this for their people, but why our governments donâ€™t press for things like this for our people. ”
Like most of governments, the EU passes laws not for its people but for its capitalists. They would not spank Google from time to time if it was a European company. They wouldn’t have passed GDPR if the GAFAM had been European companies. That a small minority of EU laws happen to benefit the people too is only a collateral effect, they would not have seen the light if big EU companies had been threatened by them. The latest EU copyright law with its infamous mandatory upload filters is something hostile to the people, and was passed because the parasitic lobbies behind it were European this time.
of course Google Chrome & Google Search is per-installed and impossible to remove (without root). wow so much freedom! so much choice! /s
What does that really mean in practice, does the alternative browser work system wide too?