Google Reduces Restrictions for Android Device Firms
Google recently announced that it would be removing the restrictions it had previously placed on Android device makers after a clash with the European Union. Google is dropping the ban that they had created to stop manufacturers from building a portfolio lineup including tablets and phones powered by alternative versions of the Android operating system, and OS solutions that feature Google apps.
The European Union imposed a penalty on Google in July of this year, after discovering that the US-based company had been using their Android system to illegally force its dominant position in search. Google now faces a £3.8 billion fine for their actions, which they are appealing against, even as they loosen their holds on the Android market.
The changes in the Google terms will also mean that some of Google’s services can now be installed on devices, without the presence of other specific apps.
Unbundling Google Solutions
Google officially announced the changes that have been made to their Android policy in a recent blog, where they said that the licensing arrangements that they’re establishing will be in action from the 29th of October. The new terms will apply to any devices shipped throughout the European Economic Area, which includes the EU, as well as Lichtenstein, Iceland, and Norway.
Until now, Google has been very restrictive with its Android policy, demanding that if tablet and handset makers wanted to use pre-installed applications like YouTube and Google Maps, they also had to pre-load devices with Google Search and Chrome applications too. However, Google will no longer be bundling its apps in this way, though the company did announce that manufacturers would now have to face a new fee.
According to executive Hiroshi Lockheimer, because the pre-installation rules around Chrome and Google Search helped Google in funding the development of Android as a free system, Google now needs to introduce a paid licensing agreement for all tablets and smartphones shipped in the EEA. However, Android as an operating system will continue to be free and open source.
At present, Google has revealed no official fees or insights into whether consumers should expect to see a rise in device prices.
Manufacturers Have More Freedom to Explore
The Competition Commissioner for the EU, Margrethe Vestager has suggested that Google’s restrictions stopped manufacturers from creating “forked” versions of Android, like Amazon Fire OS, from having more of an impact than the Android solution itself. The limitations around Android meant that most manufacturers have focused on bringing their own “skins” and changes into the Google Android experience, which makes the stock version of the OS feel more personalised.
The new rules around Android will give manufacturers more room to experiment with their operating systems, and potentially create “pure” experiences that suit the needs of their customers and their brands. For instance, if Samsung wanted to create a Samsung device with its forked version of Android, they could do so with Bixby as their lead voice assistant, without having to worry about including Google’s voice AI as part of the device operating system.
Avaya’s Input about Google and Android
We reached out to leading communication provider Avaya, to get their opinion on how the Google policy changes might transform the environment for smart devices in the business world. The Solutions Architect Director for EMEA and APAC at Avaya, Ahmed Helmy said:
“For our smart devices, like Avaya Vantage, we use Android as the operating system. However, the version we use isn’t the same as what you’d find on the standard mobile handsets sold to consumers.”
“We customise the operating system, making it more lightweight and optimising for speed and security.”
“Still, the more that Google opens up Android, the more we can optimise our devices for the use cases that our customers demand. Naturally, our customers want features that aren’t available on standard cellphones. Being able to make more significant changes to the OS enables us to create faster, more secure devices with better capabilities.”
We can only wait and see what manufacturers of smart devices like Avaya do next now that they have more freedom to experiment with the Android operating system. The future could be brighter than ever for business-based communication solutions.
Industry: Unified communication news
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