Google unshackles Android-device firms

Google offers solutions to avoid more EU Android fines

EU force Google to unbundle, license Android application suite to competitors

"Device manufacturers will be able to license the Google mobile application suite separately from the Google Search App or the Chrome browser", wrote Hiroshi Lockheimer, Google SVP for Platforms & Ecosystems, in a statement. It gave the tech giant until 28 October to change its business practices or face further penalties.

For years, Google mandated the pre-installation of some of its core apps - Search, Chrome, Gmail and Play Store - for any company who wanted to make and sell Android phones.

It's among measures the company is taking to comply with the July ruling by European Union authorities that found Google allegedly abused the dominance of Android to stifle competitors, even as it appeals the decision. The move reverses a previous policy which blocked manufacturers from offering its suite of apps on such devices.

Now, Google will charge manufacturers a flat licensing fee to include its apps on devices. Another change will see more flexibility in devices with the Google apps preloaded. The downside for device manufacturers is that Google will now charge for many of its most popular apps according to its new "paid licensing agreement" for smartphones and tablets. Outside of including a browser, everything else can just be downloaded from Google by the user after they purchase their device.

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This rule really helped Google keep an iron grip over the Android OEMs, because it stopped them from even experimenting outside of the Google ecosystem.

Until now, Google insisted that if handset- and tablet-makers pre-installed apps such as YouTube and Google Maps, they also had to pre-load its web browser Chrome and Search apps.

Google says it is appealing the ruling, but in an announcement today revealed the steps it will be taking to comply with the Commission's demands.

Google offered access to its apps and search engine for free due to the revenue it generates through such services. We've always wished the app had a beta channel on the Play Store and that those tests would be accomplished through it. It's replicating Google Play Services, a massive set of Google APIs that many developers choose to use in their apps. It also accuses the company of preventing third parties using its Adsense product from displaying search advertisements from Google's competitors - a third case against the company.

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