Android phones in India just need to preload Google Play Store, shows leaked terms

Thanks to Google’s antitrust decision by the CCI, the Android operating system will see a massive change in the way it presents itself to audiences, leaked terms indicate. From now on, users can choose and install their own default apps.

After a big ruling in India, Android is set to change significantly in the not-too-distant future. Earlier this year, India upheld a ruling aimed at breaking Google’s control of Android, focusing mainly on the applications Google forced its partners to install and the company’s control over app distribution through the Play Store .

In response to this decision, Google has already announced changes for both Android and the Play Store, including the broad extension of “user choice billing” to all applications and games.

This distinguishes this new agreement from existing area-specific MADA extensions. IMADA is the only one that is optional, in all other cases the adjusted rules must be met.

— Kuba Wojciechowski 🌺 (@Za_Raczke) February 18, 2023

What are MADA agreements?
Google’s Mobile Applications Distribution Agreement (MADA) is a licensing requirement for access to all of Google’s Android apps, including the app actually required to set up devices like Chromecast.

Also Read: In Major Setback, Google Loses Bid to Block India’s Android Antitrust Ruling

Basically, Google’s MADA, or MADA in general, is a generic agreement that device manufacturers sign with Google that allows Google to place certain apps as standard in devices made by those device manufacturers. In this way, the device makers also get some discounts from Google or even make money by allowing Google to rank certain default apps.

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Google India’s new IMADA
Kuba Wojciechowski claims to have discovered a document outlining “IMADA”, the India-specific version of the Google partners’ mobile application distribution agreement. This new agreement is optional, and if accepted, will limit the sale of a device to India only.

Perhaps the most significant change is that Android partners may only need to preinstall the Google Play Store. This is a clear departure from the “MADA” standard, which also requires Google Search, Chrome, Drive, Gmail, Maps, Pictures, YouTube and a few other applications to be preinstalled.

Also Read: Google Challenged: Epic Games is Suing Google in India for Failing to Properly Follow Antitrust Order

Google Play Services is still required as this applies to all apps published through the Play Store. Manufacturers are also no longer required to include the Google search widget on the home screen by default, as well as the Play Store and other Google app shortcuts.

India versus the rest of the world
As more countries impose their own antitrust laws on Google, it makes sense that Google would adopt a standardized and revised MADA agreement for all manufacturers. However, given the potential revenue losses, Google is likely to stick with its regular MADA agreements where it doesn’t face antitrust challenges, and be more likely to enter into new agreements like India’s I-MADA or IMADA if there are problems with antitrust laws.

Also read: Google loses appeal against record EU antitrust fine to pay 4.125 billion euros

Interestingly, Google is also setting up the “Indian Placement Agreement,” which pays companies to preinstall one of the top 11 Google apps and place it on the home screen by default. However, the payouts are not mentioned.

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How does it change things for users?
For starters, once this policy goes into effect, your Android smartphones won’t be bloated with Google-centric apps that you can’t remove. Instead, you can choose your own apps.

The second element is reducing the required user-centric apps.

In normal MADA there are currently 11 required apps as listed below. In IMADA, the only required app is the Play Store, but OEMs can choose to preload any combination they want.

— Kuba Wojciechowski 🌺 (@Za_Raczke) February 18, 2023

Don’t like using Gpay and prefer a different wallet? Can you install your wallet app and have no trace of Gpay on your device at all? Don’t like using the Gmail mobile application? You are free to choose another application to show you your emails, including those from your Gmail account.

This revised agreement also includes a phase in the setup process that encourages users to choose a default search engine during setup, but only for devices that still have the Google Search app. This is the same setup page that users in the European Union see.

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Date updated: 22 February 2023 08:15:59 IST