Chrome For Android Now Lets Russian Users Pick Search Engine

The Google Chrome app for Android has received a new update that now allows users in Russia to select their desired search engine once they open the mobile version of the browser on their Android phones, according to Yandex. The feature has been added to Chrome version 60, seemingly in response to a ruling by the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) in Russia last year, which concluded that the search giant violated the country’s antitrust laws by compelling original equipment manufacturers to install Google services as the default option in Android devices sold in the country.

The ruling favored Yandex’ complaint filed with FAS in 2015, which alleged that the Mountain View, California-based company was breaking Russian antitrust laws through its monopolistic practices. The complaint asked FAS to launch an investigation on Google’s business practices, which led to the search giant’s hefty fine amounting to 438 million rubles ($6.75 million). The FAS also ordered the company to change the terms of its contract with Android OEMs so that other search providers like Yandex are given the opportunity to conduct business in a fair environment. A year later, Google seems to be dispelling the belief of some that it is maintaining a monopoly on search by giving users in Russia a wider selection of options for search engines to be used on mobile phones there: Google, Yandex and Mail.ru are the options which users will have the ability to select from. Yandex confirmed in a blog post that this is indeed being shown to users when they open the Chrome browser for the first time, adding that in the previous setup users could only choose their preferred search tool by changing the option in the application settings.

Google also settled its longstanding antitrust case with Russia’s anti-monopoly watchdog in April this year. Under the settlement, the search engine company vowed not to force OEMs to set Google apps and services as exclusive options for devices sold in Russia. Part of the settlement also instructed Google to introduce a tool that will expand the choice of search engines for Android users. More recent improvements that came with Chrome 60 include a faster search widget, and Google is expected to add more updates to Chrome meant to address antitrust issues.

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Manny Reyes

Staff Writer
A big fan of Android since its launch in 2008. Since then, I've never laid my eyes on other platforms.