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Google is changing how Android works in India in response to landmark antitrust ruling

Users will be able to choose their default search engine and uninstall Google apps.

Pallava Bagla via Getty Images

After a last-ditch attempt to block India’s landmark Android ruling failed last week, Google has detailed how its mobile operating system will change to accommodate orders from the country’s Competition Commission. In a blog post spotted by The Verge, Google said it would give Android users in India the option to decide on their device’s default search engine “via a choice screen” that appears when they first set up a new phone or tablet.

Additionally, starting next month, all apps and games downloaded from the Play Store will support third-party billing options, allowing developers to pay a smaller fee on in-app purchases. The company will also begin allowing users to uninstall the first-party apps that came with their devices.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) fined Google the equivalent of $162 million last October, alleging the company had abused its “dominant position” in search, video and the web to unfairly disadvantage competitors. Besides changing what Indian consumers can expect from Android, the order will reshape the company’s relationship with Android manufacturers. On Wednesday, the company said it would allow OEMs to license individual first-party apps to pre-install on their devices. The company will also update Android’s compatibility requirements to better support forked operating system variants.

Naturally, Google is not enthusiastic about re-engineering Android to accommodate the CCI’s orders. “Implementation of these changes across the ecosystem will be a complex process and will require significant work at our end and, in many cases, significant efforts from partners, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and developers,” the company said. In the meantime, it plans to “respectfully appeal certain aspects” of the Commission’s decisions. “We take our commitment to comply with local laws and regulations in India seriously,” Google added.

Google has tried to mollify regulators and avoid this kind of intervention by introducing programs like its User Choice Billing pilot, which allows developers to implement alternative in-app purchasing systems within their apps. At this point, Google could be swimming against the tide. On Tuesday, the US Department of Justice sued the company in a bid to break up its ad tech division. The tech giant also faces the prospect of US lawmakers ordering it to open the Play Store to more competition.

Correction 01/26 2:27PM ET: A previous version of this article mistakenly said developers could use the User Choice Billing to avoid paying Google a commission on in-app purchases. We regret the error.