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Google Pixel users gain control over default search engine in the EU

European Union users of Google Pixel smartphones now have the ability to customize and select their preferred default search engine, marking a significant shift in user autonomy within the mobile browsing experience

Major tech companies are shaking up their ecosystem rules in response to the Digital Markets Act (DMA) in the European Union. Now, Google, for instance, has started rolling out a new Pixel Launcher setting in the EU, allowing users to switch their default search engine.

The scoop was first brought to light by renowned app researcher Mishaal Rahman (via MySmartPrice), who obtained relevant screenshots from a user. This new setting provides users with a list of available search engines to choose from.

It displays options like DuckDuckGo and Ecosia alongside the existing Google search engine. Additionally, the search bar icon on the home screen changes based on the selected search engine.
Users can easily change the default search engine in Pixel Launcher by accessing the app settings. Then simply:
  • Tap on Home screen search settings
  • Select Search engine
  • Choose from the available options

As of now, this setting is only available in Europe, with no information yet on whether it will be expanded to other markets.

Since the DMA came into effect, Google isn’t the only major tech player adjusting its operations in Europe. Apple has also made notable changes to its ecosystem for EU users. With the release of iOS 17.4, users in the EU now have the option to use other app stores and select their default browsers as well.

Plus, Meta has had to tweak some of its rules, like introducing paid subscriptions to Facebook, offering users the chance to enjoy an ad-free experience. Also, its messaging app, WhatsApp, is gearing up for changes, such as allowing cross-platform communications in Europe.

The EU’s DMA aims to level the digital playing field, making it fairer for everyone involved. It targets big platforms designated as gatekeepers that control access to online services. The gatekeepers listed are Apple, Google, Microsoft, Meta, TikTok by Bytedance, and Amazon. These tech giants have to follow new rules to ensure fair competition and offer users more options.

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