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Google to offer third-party billing system for Google Play apps in India

By Liu Hongzuo - on 26 Jan 2023, 3:53pm

Google to offer third-party billing system for Google Play apps in India

Android logo and logotype. Source: Google.

Google is revising how the Android mobile operating system works in India, following a host of new regulations put in place by the nation’s antitrust watchdog.

According to TechCrunch, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) ordered Google to allow users to change search engines on their Android phones, choose a different billing solution for Play Store apps and games, and to not force phone manufacturers to bundle too many apps on a Google-backed mobile device.

This comes after a series of massive fines and failed appeals by Google, where the CCI fined Google nearly US$162 million and US$113 million and proceeded to throw out its appeals for these fines.

The changes to Android’s operations may affect 97% of phone users in India – Counterpoint Research estimates that 600 million smartphones in India use Google’s Android for their mobile devices.

In a nutshell, these are the changes happening for Android in India, per TechCrunch’s reporting:

OEMs will be able to license individual Google apps for pre-installation on their devices.

Android users have always been able to customise their devices to suit their preferences. Indian users will now have the option to choose their default search engine via a choice screen that will soon start to appear when a user sets up a new Android smartphone or tablet in India.

We’re updating the Android compatibility requirements to introduce changes for partners to build non-compatible or forked variants.

User choice billing will be available to all apps and games starting next month. Through user choice billing, developers can offer users the option to choose an alternative billing system alongside Google Play’s billing system when purchasing in-app digital content.

Android has always supported the installation of apps from a variety of sources, including via sideloading, which involves app downloads directly from a developer’s website. We recently made changes to the Android installation flow and auto-updating capability for sideloaded apps and app stores while ensuring users understand the potential security risks.

So, not only would Android users in India get to choose their preferred billing institution for Play Store apps, these users can also select their preferred search engine from the very start of setting up their Android phones.

Phone manufacturers in India can opt to have specific Google apps pre-installed, and even expect official support and compatibility for forked Android variants. Finally, sideloaded apps (not from the Google Play Store) should have an easier time when updating them.

Source: TechCrunch, Reuters

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