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Google faces new EU probe over forcing Android OEMs to use Google Assistant

Google Assistant On Shelf
Google Assistant On Shelf (Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google is reportedly under renewed EU antitrust investigation for forcing Android OEMs to use Google Assistant as the default voice assistant on their devices.
  • EU regulators had raised concerns over "attempts to restrict the number of voice assistants" on smart devices in June.
  • Regulators are also concerned about Google and other voice assistant providers pushing their own services via default settings on smart devices.

Google is facing a renewed antitrust investigation from EU regulators over "possibly forcing" device makers into using Google Assistant as the default voice assistant on Android devices, according to a tweet by Mlex reporter Sam Wilkin. Android Central has reached out to Google for a comment on the report.

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While more details aren't available at this point, the news certainly doesn't come as a surprise. Back in June, EU antitrust regulators expressed concern over the market dominance of Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa, and Alphabet's Google Assistant.

The regulator said that many respondents had cited worries over exclusivity and tying practices such as voice assistant providers preventing manufacturers from installing a rival voice assistant on their smart devices. Some of the respondents also raised concerns about Google, Apple, and Amazon promoting their own services to restrict rivals and the large amounts of data that the companies have access to.

European regulators are also unhappy about the lack of interoperability between devices in the smart home market. The European Commission is expected to submit its final report on its inquiry into voice assistants and internet-connected devices in the first half of 2022.

The European Union has already fined Google nearly $10 billion for abusing its market dominance. In 2018, EU regulators hit the search giant with a record $5 billion fine for forcing smartphone makers to preinstall its services, such as Search and Maps, on the best Android phones and tablets. Google is expected to challenge the fine at a court hearing later this month.

Babu Mohan
Babu Mohan
1 Comment
  • Good.
    If the EU serves any useful purpose, let it be to sue the crap out of Google. They have been abusing their power on Android for years. Ideally, though, the EU should try to force a break up of the company. Or, you know, accelerate the adoption of the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act to ensure this sort of bloatware-and-spyware-pushing by companies like Google is outright illegalised once and for all.