Alphabet-owned search giant Google Inc. has announced major changes to its Android operating system and app store Play after India's antitrust regulator ordered the company to do so in its October 20 ruling last year.

Indian users will now have the option to choose their default search engine via a choice screen that will soon start to appear when a user sets up a new Android smartphone or tablet in India, the tech giant says in a blog post.

Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) will now be able to license individual Google apps for pre-installation on their devices, says Google.

This comes after the Supreme Court refused to interfere with the directions passed by National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) in the Android case and declined to stay the order issued by Competition Commission of India (CCI). The CCI had imposed a ₹1,337.76 crore penalty on the tech behemoth for abusing its dominant position in multiple markets in the Android mobile device ecosystem. "The mandatory pre-installation of the entire Google Mobile Suite under Mobile Application Distribution Agreement with no option to uninstall the same and their prominent placement amounts to imposition of an unfair condition on the device manufacturers," the antitrust watchdog said in October last year. Days later, the CCI imposed another penalty worth ₹936.44 crore on Google for anti-competitive practices in relation to its Play Store policies.

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, according to Google.

"We're updating the Android compatibility requirements to introduce changes for partners to build non-compatible or forked variants," the tech behemoth says.

User choice billing will be available to all apps and games starting next month. Through user choice billing, developers can offer users the option to choose an alternative billing system alongside Google Play's billing system when purchasing in-app digital content.

"Android has always supported the installation of apps from a variety of sources, including via sideloading, which involves app downloads directly from a developer's website. We recently made changes to the Android installation flow and auto-updating capability for sideloaded apps and app stores while ensuring users understand the potential security risks," says the Alphabet-owned company.

Earlier this month, Google said the directions issued by India's antitrust watchdog strike a blow at the ecosystem-wide efforts to accelerate digital adoption in the country. "Foundational disruptions at this stage could set us back years and undo the deep investments and effort made by OEMs, developers and the industry overall," the company said in a blog post on January 14.

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