Google and the Open Android Ecosystem

At the local Google I/O extended event we had a discussion about policies for mobile developers and the formal investigations of the EU commission against Google and Alphabet with regards to Android. The commission mentioned three areas: anti-fragmentation, revenue sharing and app bundling. There are no details where Google allegedly misuses its market dominance. See also the discussion at reddit.

Here we would like to share a few examples mainly from the app bundling area where the Google team could serve the open Android ecosystem better.

Android Wear and Google app

Android Wear can’t be used without the Google app. If the Google app is not installed or disabled the Android Wear app forces the user to enable the Google app before continuing.

Android Wear requires Google

Drive and Play Store

The Play Store app has an interface for lightweight installation of apps. The user doesn’t has to go through the usual process of Google Play Store. Drive is using this interface to install Docs if the user wants to edit a document. However, this interface can only be used by privileged apps, i.e. by apps from Google. See question at stackoverflow.

Drive installs Docs

The Android framework supports system-wide search through the so-called Quick Search Box. However, Google search, which is on many devices the default search engine does not implement the quick search box mechanism anymore and therefore, encourages developers and product managers to create silo apps and to use the Google App Indexing. Most user won’t find apps like Quick Search to make use of the Android global search feature.

Search for Apps

Of course, we would like to see the possibility to search the Play Store by intent filters. Gmail is trying to mimic the search for apps by using file extensions if there is no app install that can open a particular attachment. Google, you can do better!

Search by file extension 1 Search by file extension 2