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Google agrees to open Android to competing apps in Russia

The search giant reaches settlement deal with Russia's competition regulators that allows preinstallations of other search engines and apps on Android.

Ben Fox Rubin Former senior reporter
Ben Fox Rubin was a senior reporter for CNET News in Manhattan, reporting on Amazon, e-commerce and mobile payments. He previously worked as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and got his start at newspapers in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Ben Fox Rubin

The Android home-screen search bar was at the center of a two-year dispute between Google and Russia regulators.

Juan Garzón/CNET

Google and Russia's anti-monopoly watchdog agreed to settle a two-year-long disagreement over Google's Android software.

According to the settlement, which Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service announced Monday, Google will stop demanding phone makers give exclusivity and priority to its Google apps on Android-based devices in Russia. The company also can't restrict competing search engines and applications from being preinstalled on Android devices.

The dispute arose after Russia-based search company Yandex submitted a complaint to the FAS about Google's practices.

In a few months, Google will create a new Chrome widget for new devices in Russia that will replace the current Google search widget on the home screen. The new widget will let users choose their default search engine on the home screen, whether it's Google or Yandex or another provider.

A Google spokesperson said in a statement Monday that the company is "happy to have reached a commercial agreement with Yandex and a settlement with Russia's competition regulator."

Yandex, which is far smaller than Google, saw its shares jump over 7 percent Monday.

"Today is an important day for Russian consumers as Google has agreed to take significant steps that open up its Android platform in Russia," Arkady Volozh, Yandex's chief executive, said in a statement. "Now millions of Russian Android users will be offered a choice of search engines on their mobile devices."