Google ends search provider auctions on Android

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 9, 2021
Google Android, Search

Google displays a search engine selection screen on Android devices in some regions of the world, including the European Union. The majority of Android devices have Google Search as the default search provider and one complaint that was leveled at Google by regulators from the European Union was that the company pushed manufacturers to keep Google Search and Google Apps as the defaults on their devices.

Google made the decision to display a search engine selection screen in those regions. The initial selection process required payments in an auction-like system. Providers who paid the most were included, and those who refused to pay or did not bid enough were not included in the selection process.

Some providers refused to participate in the auction because they felt it was putting them at a disadvantage against companies with deeper pockets.

The updated Choice Screen support page on the Android website reveals that Google has made changes to the choice screen "in consultation with the European Commission". The auction-based choice screen won't be used anymore and search providers don't have to bid in an auction anymore or pay Google to be included.

android select search engine

Android users will see a list of up to 12 search providers in random order. The list includes Google Search and also other providers such as DuckDuckGo, Bing, Ecosia, or Yahoo.

The choice screen display and ordering follows the following rules:

  1. The five most popular search providers in a region based on StatCounter data will be displayed randomly at the top (including Google).
  2. Up to seven additional search providers are displayed randomly after the five search providers at the top. If there are more than seven eligible search providers, seven will be picked from the available providers each time the screen is displayed.

Providers need to meet certain criteria if they want to be included:

  1. The search engine needs to be a general purpose search engine and not a specialized search engine.
  2. The search provider needs to have a free app in Google Play.
  3. Search providers must offer local language support in the regions and countries that they want to be included.
  4. Search providers need to deliver required technical assets to Google.

Closing Words

Google was criticized heavily for its auction-based approach and the small number of search providers that it displayed to Android users in the original choice system. The system benefitted providers with deep pockets and meant that many providers would not be displayed to Android users, even if the search engine was more popular or liked than others.

The new system is better; the top five search providers will get the bulk of selections but even smaller providers have a chance to be selected.

Now You: which search provider do you use on your mobile devices?

Google ends search provider auctions on Android
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Google ends search provider auctions on Android
Google decided to end search provider auctions on Android in favor of a randomized free solution.
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  1. Yuliya said on June 10, 2021 at 6:26 pm

    I have no default search engine set. It’s impossible to search online on my phone from any search bars located within the UI. I thinkg this should be an option on that screen as well, since achieving this means digging through lots of submenus in many different setting areas.

  2. Paul(us) said on June 10, 2021 at 10:23 am
    Reply on all my machines.

    More and more I am starting to love the European Union for standing up to the bully

    1. Anonymous said on June 11, 2021 at 2:22 am

      who knows how much data they give to M$ for not blocking them for accessing their api…

  3. Anonymous said on June 10, 2021 at 12:18 am

    Can we get the same worldwide?

  4. anonymous said on June 9, 2021 at 4:29 pm

    I prefer Startpage (on every device, not just on mobile).

  5. ChromeFan said on June 9, 2021 at 2:21 pm

    Good guy Google, giving the user choices when it didn’t need to. *stands up and claps*

    At the end of the day, any search provider that is based in the USA is not private, period. Why limit yourself with DuckDuckGo (who uses Bing), when you can settle for the best (Google).

    1. Anonymous said on June 11, 2021 at 5:43 am

      Google search is the best, but after I changed ISP it always show recaptcha in every search(more info:”cgnat recaptcha”).

      That’s why I changed to other search engines.
      Found out they’re not as bad as people say

    2. Tom Mc said on June 10, 2021 at 12:13 am

      @ ChromeFan

      We understand that you are a Google shill ( paid or unpaid ).

      However, most of the people who read ghacks know that Google is the biggest thief of user data on the web. Anyone who uses any of Google’s products is either very naive, is not computer literate, or does not understand the definition of user privacy.

      1. Michael said on June 11, 2021 at 2:20 am

        @Tom Fc, you make no sense.
        They are not thiefs, a thief steals, they don’t steal your data you agree or not to give it to them.
        Yes, and the assholes block all their services behind a prompt which you can’t go through unless you agree to it.
        You want to use their services, you give your data to them.
        In my fantasy world I get paid for my job but others give me stuff without getting paid somehow.
        Unfortunately that’s not how real world works.

      2. Yash said on June 11, 2021 at 8:31 am

        Absolutely although real world was working just fine before Google and would work fine too in future if Google stopped collecting and selling user data.

      3. Anonymous said on June 10, 2021 at 5:32 pm

        @Tom Mc

        They are either a troll or sarcastic. With little difference.

        Just ignore and move on.

      4. ChromeFan said on June 10, 2021 at 12:27 pm

        No one cares about privacy, if they did, browsers like Firefox would have higher market share. Everyone collects data, its a way of life. Either adapt or get left behind.

    3. Dumbledalf said on June 9, 2021 at 5:00 pm

      Google was alright until recently they decided to become assholes and block all their services behind a prompt which you can’t go through unless you agree to it. Those shifty bastards made sure you can’t use a content blocker or Developer Tools to bypass it.

      In the end I dumped all Google services. The only thing left I have is my Android phone, which just uses the Google Account for Google Play and storing contacts, nothing else.

      On my PC and Phone I use a 3rd party browser (Kiwi on Android, because it’s the only browser with extension support that blocks all ads and pop-ups) and Vivaldi on PC, because at least it’s not Chrome or Firefox – the two biggest disgraces of browsers around.

      I was OK with Google until they pulled that last stunt with forcing you to agree with their conditions or you can’t use their services anymore. Now I use DuckDuckGo.

      Google can suck my desk, it’s made out of plywood.

      1. ChromeFan said on June 10, 2021 at 12:31 pm

        If you cared about not using google products like you said, you would use an iPhone, not Android. Or use Aurora store instead of Google Play.

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