Rivals of tech giant Google have alleged that the app choice screen on its Android devices still heavily favors Google’s own apps.
Bloomberg reports that search engine DuckDuckGo, the only competitor to win the right to appear as another search option on new Android devices across Europe, has warned that Google’s response to a European Union order to give rival apps greater prominence on its Android phones may fail to actually point users towards alternative apps.
Google was ordered to prompt users to pick alternative search and web browser apps on its Android devices under the terms of a 2018 E.U. antitrust ruling which found that the company unfairly ties its moneymaking services into the Android software it gives away.
Google decided to set up an auction format for smaller rivals who could pay to appear as one of the three non-Google options on the choice screen on Android devices in Europe from March to June. But DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg stated that the user experience of the screens “is designed in a way that is subconsciously influencing people to use Google more than they otherwise should or would like to.”
“Ultimately it will not be effective if it remains like that, if only because the auction format will push out a private option and that is the number one thing besides Google that people want to select,” he said.
Users setting up their Android phones will see a choice of four search engines to choose from with no explanation of the apps or the possibility to change their choice later on, DuckDuckGo stated in a blog post. The firm alleges that by failing to provide prompts that could draw users to non-Google alternatives, the company is undermining the E.U.’s order.
The E.U. antitrust commission’s press office said regulators “will continue monitoring closely the implementation of the choice screen mechanism” following discussions with Google and feedback from other companies “in particular in relation to the presentation and mechanics of the choice screen and to the selection mechanism of rival search providers.”
“As regards DuckDuckGo, as a result of the choice screen mechanism, they will be on every new Android device in the European Economic Area, and it will be for consumers to choose which search engine to install and use,“ the EU said in an emailed statement. The EU’s Android decision also allows rival search engines to be exclusively pre-installed on phone and tablets which “was not possible before.”
Read more at Bloomberg here.