Tech

Google Tightens Requirements For Android Manufacturers

Phonemakers who want to use Google’s software in their devices will have to stick to more stringent requirements.

Google Tightens Requirements For Android Manufacturers
Getty Images / Spencer Platt
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Google has new requirements for phone manufacturers who want to use Google services as part of its Android operating system on their phones.

This from an exclusive report in The Information, which says it's seen contract information that increases the focus on Google's own products.

Under the new rules, OEMs will be required to preinstall as many as 20 Google apps on their Android handsets, populate the phone's home screen with more of them and increase the prominence of Google's search tool.

It appears to some industry watchers Google's looking to standardize the user experience across the Android ecosystem, among other things, so it can more closely compete with Apple's locked-down iOS.

But Marketing Land says "the degree of control that Google is now asserting over the big Android OEMs … could soon become a major antitrust problem outside the US."

It's already a concern inside the U.S. A suit filed in district court in May alleges Google is using the requirements of the manufacturer agreement to monopolize mobile search and inflate prices for handsets and tablets.

In spite of this backlash, a writer for Droid Life suggests, OEMs need access to Google apps to be successful.

"This is Google recognizing that Android has evolved and that Google Play is a major asset that partners want/need access to. Their other apps are important as well and phones are mostly useless without them (we're looking at you, Amazon products), so Google is taking advantage of that."

It's worth noting OEMs have never been required to play by Google's rules to use stock Android, nor will they under the new agreement. But it comes at a cost. If they want access to Google apps — and revenues from the Play Store — they'll have to toe the line.

GigaOM says that's as it should be. "This new requirement set isn't really about Android then; it's about using Google's apps and services on Android — a subtle but important point. And for that reason, Google should have every say about how its software should be represented."