Just recently, European Antitrust regulators imposed a fine of $5 billion on Google and ordered them to stop using their mobile operating system to block their competitors. The amount is about twice the record Google had last year, which they were asked to pay after their online shopping search engine was deemed unfair to their rivals.
The $5 billion amount only represents more than two weeks of revenue for Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company. It will even barely dent their hundreds of billion-dollar cash reserves. However, according to them, it could spark tensions between the cities Washington and Brussels.
Although Google is still filing an appeal, the company said it will comply with the ruling and make changes to their licensing agreements to make their Android operating system more appealing to device makers.
In response to the Google’s Antitrust Case with the European Commission, they published a post on their blog which was titled, “Complying with the EC’s Android Decision”. Here, Google explained and outlined several changes that will be coming to the app licensing agreement that the company offers to Android OEMs.
You’ve probably read about the changes that will come to the Mobile Application Distribution Agreement, but if not, it actually tells us that the commercial Android device has two important parts with the core Android OS to be open source and free to use. What this suggests is that anyone can use it and do whatever they want with the OS, even without the involvement of Google.
However, if you wish to play around with Google Maps, Play Store, Gmail, and other Google apps, which you want to make available on a smartphone, you will have to speak with a representative from Google, sign a MADA, and be informed about the tons of restrictions.
The New Rules After Google Antitrust Case
There will be three major changes to the new MADA. The first change, according to Google’s blog, states that any Android partner that wishes to distribute Google apps may also have to make non-compatible or forked tablets and smartphones, especially for the European Economic Area or EEA.
In the last MADA document, which dates back to 2014, there was an anti-fragmentation clause that said any company that will sign the agreement should be all-in on Android. That means, if you built an Android device that does not have any Google apps, you will immediately get ejected from Google’s massive universe. For example, Amazon, which is popular for their forked Kindle devices, cannot ever distribute or ship a smartphone that has a Google app.
Because of this first rule, Google was able to have control over many Android OEMs as they were able to prevent manufacturers from experimenting on their apps while outside their universe. Then again, this ruling might have disappointed many OEMs because there are probably lots of them who wanted to test the waters of Android and release new devices without any Google apps. It’s just that the anti-fragmentation clause is keeping them from doing that, else they’d be kicked out of Google’s universe.
Thanks to the past ruling, it seemed nearly impossible for an OEM to transition out of Google’s universe because it meant like jumping off a steep cliff and you only had to hope you land at safe ground. Now, with the changes implemented, OEMs can experiment with Google’s Android. But take note, it might only be allowed in European nations. Forked Androids might also be allowed in China since Google does not offer their apps for that specific country.
The second change is that Google will stop bundling apps on Android phones, specifically the Search and Chrome. In the past, if you wanted to download a Google app like the Play Store, you had to download all other Google apps as if they were a huge bundle. Well, the popular Google apps will be here to stay, but OEMs will now have the option to include Search and Chrome or not.
The last change is the most shocking as it will have a financial impact on OEMs. As per Google, since the pre-installation of apps like Google Chrome and Search, as well as other apps, helped them raise funds for the development of new apps and the improvement of the Android OS, they will have to introduce a paid licensing agreement for any Android tablet or smartphone that will be shipped into any European nation.
Simply said, OEMs will now have to pay to gain access to Google apps. At the moment, Google hasn’t said a word about how much they are talking about. But they said that the core Android OS will still be free and open source.
What’s Next for Google?
Well, we really can’t tell what will happen next, but we’re thinking that the simplest and possible result of these changes is that we might see something like a Samsung device in the EU that has a Samsung browser and Bing, rather than Chrome and Google.
If you are a fan of Android and you are affected by the new ruling, you won’t have any problem. As long as your device has access to the Play Store, you may still install Google Chrome and Search.
What we think is more interesting is if a forked device hits the EU market. In China, there is a free-for-all app store, which means there are already lots of companies that have experience in creating a forked Google universe. So, in the future, we could probably see a multitude of Chinese OEMs like Huawei and Xiaomi. There’ll also be more Google-free devices in European nations.
Maybe the hardest part about a forked Android is not about getting an email client or replicating the Play Store. It’s the fact that OEMs have to replicate a plethora of Google Play Services, which involve different Google APIs. Thus, if an OEM plans to embed Google Maps into an app, it has to include all other Play services. In addition, when outside Google’s ecosystem, all the apps that depend on Google Play Services will stop working.
As you can see, forking Google’s Android is not an easy feat. But at least, OEMs may experiment now. Once they fail, Google still has their back.
Meanwhile, since the new ruling will take effect on October 29, 2018, just download and install Outbyte Android Care on your device. Although Google is not forcing you to install the app, having it on your device will ensure it runs fast and smooth, anytime, anywhere.
A Computer Engineer by degree and a writer by profession, Cathy Trimidal writes for Software Tested and Outbyte. For years now, she has contributed articles focusing on the trends in IT, VPN, web apps, SEO, and digital marketing. Although she spends most of her days living in a virtual realm, she still finds time to satisfy her infinite list of interests.