Google is under investigation by the EU for forcing Android phone makers to pre-install its voice assistant, report says

Google Pixel assistant
  • Google is facing another antitrust investigation in the EU, MLex reported Thursday.
  • Investigators are said to be probing the dominance of Google’s voice assistant on Android devices.
  • The bloc has issued the tech giant almost $US10 ($AU14) billion in antitrust fines over the past decade.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Google is reportedly facing another EU competition investigation, this time over the dominance of its voice assistant on Android.

On Thursday, Sam Wilkin, managing editor of regulatory news service MLex, tweeted that the tech giant faced another investigation from European authorities “over possibly forcing device manufacturers to use Google Assistant as the default voice assistant on Android devices.”

Insider approached Google for comment. The EU Commission declined to comment.

Google Assistant, equivalent to Siri on the iPhone, has been a default feature on most new Android devices since 2017. The AI-powered assistant was first launched in 2016, and can schedule meetings, answer basic queries, or initiate phone calls, among other features.

Earlier in 2021, EU competition chief Margrethe Vestegar signaled she was unnerved by the dominance of a few voice assistants on the continent, and suggested pre-installation was anti-competitive. She also expressed concerns about the way voice assistants collect people’s data.

“In the EU, Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri are the leading voice assistants,” she said at the time, adding that “there are concerns about default settings and pre-installation on voice assistants.”

The EU has already fined Google for anticompetitive behavior – involving search, shopping, and Android – three times in three years: first for $US2.7 ($AU4) billion in 2017, again for $US5 ($AU7) billion in 2018, and once more for $US1.7 ($AU2) billion in 2019.

Are you a current or former Apple employee with more to share? You can contact this reporter securely using the encrypted messaging app Signal (+447801985586) or email ([email protected]). Reach out using a nonwork device.