New Android Phones Launched in Turkey Won’t Come With Google Apps Pre-Installed

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Due to a legal tussle between Google and the Turkish government, all subsequent Android phones released in the country will be devoid of Google apps and services. The Mountain View-based company has already sent out circulars to its Turkish partners informing them about this new development. A Google spokesperson told Reuters in a statement:

We’ve informed our business partners that we will not be able to work with them on new Android phones to be released for the Turkish market. Consumers will be able to purchase existing device models and will be able to use their devices and applications normally. Google’s other services will be unaffected.

The Turkish competitive board and Google have been in a legal standoff since 2018 when the former fined Google 93 million lire ($17.4 million) for violating mobile software sales laws. On top of the fine, Google had six months to fix its software distribution agreements in the country.

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Among other things, the board ordered Google to let customers use a different search engine on the operating system. While it is possible to do so, the default option still redirects you to Google Search. Yandex—a Russian search engine giant—reportedly bought this to the board's notice.

Google is no stranger to anti-competitive lawsuits. The company has gotten in trouble with the EU multiple times. Last year, Google faced similar backlash in the EU following an antitrust lawsuit by app distribution platform Aptiode.

Google did change its policies following the decision. However, it wasn't enough to meet the Turkey competition board's requirements. As a result, the board fined Google 0.05% of its revenue per day over the violation, which would be in effect until the company meets all of the board's demands. Google is reportedly working with the Turkish government to find a solution.

If you're based in Turkey and have an Android device, you shouldn't be affected. All existing devices in the market that are already running Google Play services will continue to operate uninterrupted. Furthermore, security updates and software upgrades won't be affected either.

While it isn't entirely impossible to use an Android phone devoid of any Google services, it is rather cumbersome. A lot of the apps that one takes for granted are simply not there and the alternatives are less than ideal. Play Store alternatives such as F Droid can help you get by but is by no means a replacement for the real thing. The same applies to video-sharing platforms such as Vimeo, BitChute, and likes.

Chinese companies have developed an entire ecosystem outside of the Play Store, and it's high time that the world starts catching up. Thankfully, we can still sideload third-party apps on Android devices so it isn't entirely impossible to go Play Store-free.

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