Google's changing Android app licensing in response to European Union antitrust decision

Woman takes selfie with the Google Android mascot

Google offers solutions to avoid more EU Android fines

The European Commission in July hit Google with its biggest ever fine, imposing a 4.34 billion euro ($5 billion) penalty, giving the United States tech giant 90 days to change its practices. The crux of the EC's decision earlier this year was its opinion that Google was taking advantage of its position as a dominant operating system to be unfriendly to companies making Android devices.

Realistically, this probably won't change much for most Android devices. In fact, these companies will now also be allowed to license Google's apps too, something that was previously not possible. "Android will remain free and open source".

The result, critics said, has given Google enormous staying power and a massive core audience whose personal data Google uses to maintain its dominant position in online advertising.

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The search giant on Tuesday said it will offer a paid license for phone and tablet manufacturers in Europe that want to include its Google Play app store, Maps, Gmail and Google-owned YouTube.

On top of the new app fees, Lockheimer said that phone vendors are also free to distribute unofficial forks of the Android OS and that they can also skip installing the Search and Chrome apps, which until now have been deal-breakers.

For Google, the change is a major shift for its mobile business.

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"We have confirmed to the European Commission how we will comply with its recent decision on Android", said Al Verney, a spokesperson for Google in Brussels. Another license will let phone makers include Google's search engine and Chrome browser. The European Commision claims Google's practice of pre-installing apps like Search and Chrome on Android make it hard for the competition.

The new licensing fees will enter into effect in two weeks, on October 29.

Another illegal tactic included paying manufacturers to pre-install only Google Search and preventing them from using rival Android systems.

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For the first time in its history, Google will no longer force manufacturers to sign agreements related to pre-installing nearly all Google apps.

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