New Android devices shipped to market will, from today, offer you to chance to set up a rival search engine, such as DuckDuckGo or Bing, as the default search tool.
For years, the default search option on Android phones and tablets has been Google Search, While you’ve been able to change that yourself, you’ve had to tinker around in your device’s Settings. Switching out Search for something else will now be easier.
As of today, new Android devices with the Google Search app pre-installed that are shipped into EEA (European Economic Area) countries will need to offer users a choice during the set-up process, something Google’s calling ‘the choice screen.’
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The different search options available to you will vary depending on which country you’re based in. In the UK, you’ll be offered choices of Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Info.com at set-up, while Android users in Ireland can choose from DuckDuckGo, Info.com, and PrivacyWall. Yandex will be available in a number of countries including Finland, Poland, Slovakia, and Romania, while Qwant pops up as a choice in Denmark, France, and Greece. Regardless of where you are in the EEA, Google Search will always be offered as an option. One does not simply walk out of Mordor.
All of this has come about because the EU ruled back in July 2018 that it Google ought to give people more of a heads up about the ability to change the default search tool on their phones – Google Search is after all the most popular Google service on the planet, something that’s no doubt helped by the fact that there are something in the region of two billion active Android users worldwide.
There are other options available, however, such as the privacy-conscious DuckDuck Go and Qwant, Microsoft’s Bing, and eco-friendly search engine Ecosia, which donates a portion of its profits to reforestation projects.
Getting different search options on the Android set-up menu hasn’t been smooth sailing, though. After the EU ruling was handed down, Google opened an auction, meaning rival companies had to bid to be included on a list of four.
DuckDuckGo dug deep, and has been included as an option for every EEA region, but Ecosia threw its toys out of the pram and withdrew from the bidding process altogether. Its chief executive Christian Kroll told the BBC back in January: “We believe this auction is at odds with the spirit of the July 2018 EU Commission ruling.
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“Internet users deserve a free choice over which search engine they use and the response of Google with this auction is an affront to our right to a free, open and federated internet.
“Why is Google able to pick and choose who gets default status on Android?”
Luckily, there is nothing to stop users from downloading the Ecosia browser from Google Play. Likewise, Chrome for Android currently lets you change the default search option from Google to Bing, Yahoo, or DuckDuckGo. Firefox for Android also lets you pick DuckDuckGo, Bing, and Qwant, as your search weapon of choice.