Google is being told by regulators that it must offer a choice of default search engines on upcoming Android devices.
Google builds Android software, and so it’s no surprise that until now these devices have used Google for search. If you wanted a different default search engine, you’d have to dig deep through Settings menus.
What’s changing for search on Android devices?
Soon, EU devices should make it easier to pick a new default search engine. This is because European regulators are putting pressure on Google.
Google has been fined for breaking antitrust rules. Now, it must present Android users with a selection of possible search engines.
When you start up a new Android device, you should soon be prompted to choose your favourite search engine. Other search engines have bid for their place in the list, which means that you’ll be able to choose from privacy-conscious DuckDuckGo in every European country.
Other search engines that might appear on your list include Yandex, Info.com and Qwant. In the UK, Bing will also be included amongst your new search engine options.
In the UK, the initial three search engines presented as options will be Google, DuckDuckGo and Info.com, with others potentially added at a later date.
When are new options available?
The new search engine Choice Screen will be added to devices from March 2020. If you set up an Android device, after this date, you should find yourself presented with more options.
In the meantime, you can change your default search engine using existing phone settings.
What will the Choice Screen mean for search engine users?
Nobody quite knows whether the Choice Screen will change the future of search engine use. Will more people move to search engines that are still seen as an alternative, or will they stick with the tried and tested and keep their searches with Google?
For businesses paying attention to SEO, this move could be significant. Businesses might need to pay extra attention to where they appear in DuckDuckGo results, as well as how they show on other search engines.
Google has been the UK’s preferred search engine for many years. Though competitors exist, none have yet put a dent in Google’s huge market share. Changes brought about with Android’s new Choice Screen could be the start of something new. Or, they could be a way for Google to stay on top of the law with very little impact in the real world.