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Google to ask Android users to choose preferred browser

Users will be prompted to make a choice, as Google tries to avoid more EU sanctions.

Mobile Device Applications for Android

Google will soon prompt Android users to choose their preferred browser.

Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google will prompt Android users to choose their preferred web browser and search apps, a senior Google executive said Tuesday, as it tries to avoid new EU antitrust sanctions.

The European Commission slapped Google with a record fine of 4.34 billion euros ($5 billion) in July over antitrust violations related to the Android mobile operating system. Google's agreements with phone makers such as Huawei, Samsung and LG put those companies at a disadvantage because they're completely dependent on Android, the EU said.

Android users have always had the ability to install any browser they wanted, but now Google will highlight that they have other browser and search engine options.

Google will do more to "ensure that Android phone owners know about the wide choice of browsers and search engines available to download to their phones," Kent Walker, senior vice president of Google, wrote in a blog post. "This will involve asking users of existing and new Android devices in Europe which browser and search apps they would like to use."

In response to the $5 billion fine, Google said in October it would begin offering a paid license for phone and tablet manufacturers in Europe that want to include its Google Play app store, Maps, Gmail and Google-owned YouTube. Another license will let phone makers include Google's search engine and Chrome browser.

The EU's investigation into Android dominance dates back to 2016. In June 2017, it fined Google $2.7 billion over abusing the way it prioritizes its own shopping results in search.