Recently, Google had to agree to make some changes to the Play Store for users in India to comply with the country’s laws. Now AndroidAuthority is reporting that prolific leaker Kuba Wojciechowski came across the internal document detailing all the changes that will come to Android phones in India. Let’s see what this is! Android phones in India could be very different from those in the rest of the world
According to the document discovered by the leaker, India will get a version of Google Mobile Services (GMS) with optional Google Apps. First off, phone manufacturers have the option of choosing a version of either the Indian Mobile Application Distribution Agreements (IMADA) or the regular MADA that exist in other markets.
There are four important elements to this – first: the optional character of the new agreement.
OEMs looking to release in India have two options: release under the regular Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (MADA) or opt-in to IMADA, which includes the reduced requirements.
— Kuba Wojciechowski (@Za_Raczke) February 18, 2023Once phone manufacturers have chosen IMADA, they can only sell these phones in India. Interestingly, however, the choice of IMADA seems to be optional, unlike other MADA agreements for other countries where the regulations are mandatory (such as EMADA for Europe or TMADA for Turkey, among others). In the Indian version of the MADA, fewer pre-installed user-oriented apps are required. The regular agreements come with 11 preinstalled Google apps, but only the Google Play Store is required for the Indian market. Of course, OEMs are allowed to pre-install other apps if they wish.
Google will set a per-app premium for devices that include any of the 11 core apps (those required for global versions of Android phones), but the leaker has no information on what the premium will be, and how it is paid. However, he believes the exact terms of the per-app premium will be negotiated with each phone manufacturer.
IMADA also doesn’t require Google to put a Google search bar, Google folder, or the Play Store icon on a phone’s main screen. And Indian users can choose their default search engine during the setup process. According to reports, this option will be available from the second quarter of this year.
(Image source – Kuba Wojciechowski) These are not required in Android phones for India
Phones that are part of the IMADA agreement can only be sold in India. If you live outside of India, the previous settings apply to you. Why will Android phones be different in India?
Last year, India’s Supreme Court fined Google for anti-competitive practices. Google attempted to appeal the court’s decision, but the court denied its appeal. All in all, Mountain View was faced with having to make changes to how its services worked in India if it wanted its services to work in the country. Google then announced a list of the key changes it plans to make to comply with the law. For example, Google will license its own apps to third-party manufacturers to preinstall on their Android phones.
Starting this month, developers are allowed to integrate their preferred billing system into their apps and games for in-app purchases. This eliminates the need for developers to pay the so-called “Google tax”.
Changes to how sideloading and installing other app stores on Android work are also part of Google’s planned moves. Basically, the focus will be on educating users about the potential risks of sideloading.
Also, Android users in India will get updated help and FAQ articles on the changes to keep everyone informed.
Of course, full compliance with the law is not an easy or quick process for a company like Google, and it will take months to get everything properly compliant with the law. As we’ve said before, this doesn’t affect other markets…but we can’t be sure how such laws will affect the global tech industry going forward.