First, we're updating the compatibility agreements with mobile device makers that set out how Android is used to develop smartphones and tablets.
The changes are in response to a almost $5 billion fine levied at Google by the European Commission. The EC took particular umbrage with Google's requirements to include several Google apps as a bundle, and that licensees making Google-sanctioned Android devices were forbidden from making non-Google-licensed (aka "forked") Android devices. In fact, these companies will now also be allowed to license Google's apps too, something that was previously not possible.
In a blog post, Hiroshi Lockheimer, Senior Vice President, Platforms & Ecosystems for Google, has revealed how they will comply with the EU's directions.
This will also hopefully appease Google competitors which complained the current business model stifled competition to such an extent other products couldn't even hope to compete. If a company in the EEA wants to make Android devices with Google apps, sans Search and Chrome, it will now have to pay for the privilege.
The European Economic Area (EEA) comprises the 28 EU countries, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
The new licensing fees will enter into effect in two weeks, on October 29. In response, Google CEO Sundar Pichai argued that users could easily install alternatives to Google's apps if they wanted.
European Union antitrust enforcers in their July decision said Google's anti-competitive behavior, which dated to 2011, included forcing smartphone makers to pre-install Google Search and its Chrome browser together with its Google Play app store on their Android devices.
One major change being made is that companies that make Google Play devices will now be able to also make non-Google Play Android, also known as forked or AOSP (Android Open Source Project), devices.