Google reveals its Android browser ballot screens for Europe
Google is planning to roll out new browser and search ballot screens for Android in Europe in the coming weeks. The new screens will be displayed the first time an Android user opens Google Play after an upcoming update, and they will show rival Android browsers and search engines. Google will present four other browsers and search engines in a random order, and Android users will be able to install and enable as many of them as they like. A separate screen will also be shown to help configure app icons, widgets, or setting the browser or search engine as default.
Google is rolling these out in response to a record $5 billion fine by EU regulators for violating antitrust laws. Google was ordered to stop “illegally tying” Chrome and its search app to Android, and the company has chosen a similar ballot screen to Microsoft’s “browser ballot” webpage that it displayed to Internet Explorer users in 2010 to comply with a similar European Commission ruling.
Google’s screenshots show that both Google search and Chrome will still be tied to Android, and the company is highlighting them clearly at the top of this new ballot screen. Google will present these new screens to existing and new Android users in Europe, and the company says it will be “evolving the implementation over time.”
FairSearch, a coalition of businesses that helped launch the Google EU antitrust complaint, isn’t happy with Google’s changes, though. “Google’s proposal for a choice screen is entirely ineffective, and completely different from the one that Microsoft agreed to with the European Commission,” a FairSearch spokesperson said in a statement to The Verge. “The Google choice screen for Android does nothing to correct the central problem that Google apps will remain the default on all Android devices.”
Yelp, a search and advertising company that has opposed Google’s challenge of a separate $2.7 billion by the EU for manipulating search results, is also unconvinced of Google’s changes. “What a joke,” says Luther Lowe, SVP of Public Policy at Yelp. Lowe argues that Google’s options amount to a question to consumers of whether they would like to “clutter your phone” with redundant services. “No one should compare this to Microsoft EU ballot screen settlement, which was a zero sum decision.”
Update April 18th, 10:30AM ET: Article updated with comment from Yelp.