Back in 2018, Google was slapped with a massive €4.34 billion fine for breaching EU antitrust rules, which included tying Google Search to browser apps. Over the past few years, the company made several changes to its operating system to give European users more options, such as a "choice screen" through which users can select their preferred search provider.
Today, the company has announced a final set of changes to this choice screen, which will make its way to European customers in September.
Moving forward, participation will be free for all eligible search providers. Google initially rolled out the choice screen with support for a maximum of four providers - including itself - ordered randomly. It also announced a controversial auctioning system through which it added three highest paying bidders to the screen every quarter. Some search providers such as DuckDuckGo blasted the company for this practice, saying that it incentivized search providers to maximize their profits by violating user privacy.
However, Google is now opening the process for all eligible search providers. The tech giant went on to say that:
We have always believed in offering people and businesses choice and competing on the merits of our services. And we know that people choose Google because it’s helpful; not because there are no alternatives. That’s why we will continue to invest in Google Search and Android to make them the most helpful products available, and we appreciate the open dialogue with the European Commission on these areas.
Additionally, more options will now be displayed on the choice screen. You can find out more details about the application process here. The changes will roll out to Android in Europe by September 2021.