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Google is changing how it shows search results to European users

In context: In recent years, the European Union has enacted a series of legislations to hold Big Tech companies accountable for their business practices and force them to implement more consumer-friendly policies, such as requiring USB-C in iPhones. The Digital Markets Act (DMA) is one such regulation that aims to ensure fair and open digital markets by reducing the power of “gatekeepers” like Alphabet (Google), Apple, Meta (Facebook), Microsoft, Amazon, and ByteDance (TikTok).

With the DMA set to come into effect in March 2024, Google is making a series of changes to some of its most popular products, including Search and Android. One of the most notable consumer-facing changes will see the company adding “dedicated units” within its search results whenever EU residents are searching for something to buy, showing links to comparison sites from across the web. The new search pages will also include “query shortcuts” at the top to help people refine their search.

If you’re searching for hotels, Google will reserve a dedicated space in its search results for comparison sites and offer more details for each individual result, including images, star ratings, and more. To comply with DMA guidelines and implement these changes, Google will also have to remove its own services, like Google Flights, from the search results.

Also read: New study confirms the obvious, search results are only getting worse

Google will also offer European residents more search engine options on Android, enabling them to select a default search engine other than Google. The company will provide similar options to Chrome users on desktops, iPhones, and iPads.

Google will present EU users with an additional consent banner in search results, asking them whether it can continue sharing data across its apps and services to help customize content and serve personalized ads. The company warns that if the user opts out of linked services, some features may be limited or unavailable. However, Google did not clarify which features will stop working and which services will be limited if a user opts out of data sharing.

Finally, Google is introducing a Data Portability API for developers to assist them in transferring their data to a third-party app or service. The company already provides users with the ability to download or transfer a copy of their data from most of its apps, so the new feature will expand the scope and scale of its data portability services.

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