What you need to know
- The latest Android 14 QPR2 Beta 3 version features a new setting that could, in the future, allow users to pick a default search engine in the Pixel Launcher.
- The toggle presumably would change the search engine used in the search bar at the bottom of the home screen in the Pixel Watcher.
- Google’s decision to potentially add more default search engines could be in response to antitrust concerns levied by multiple governments.
Once a fixed part of the Pixel Launcher that had limited customization options, the home screen on Pixel devices is now more customizable than ever. Earlier this month, Google consolidated all of the At a Glance widget settings into a single menu. Finally, you can even remove At a Glance from your home screen if it isn’t your style. While this is a good start, Pixel Launcher could be in store for a major customization boost.
Last week, members of the Google News Telegram Channel spotted a new setting in Android 14 QPR2 Beta 3. It’s called Search Engine, and as the name suggests, it’ll allow you to pick the search engine of your choice for Pixel Launcher. Instead of being stuck with Google Search, you could use another service, Bing.
“Select the app you’ll use to search the web,” the setting’s explanation reads. “This will affect search and content on your home screen.”
Separately, the page links to a support document with the following URL:http://support.google.com/android?p=choice_screen_error_messages. However, the link doesn’t go anywhere yet, and simply redirects to the main Google Help website.
By default, the Pixel Launcher sports a search bar at the bottom of the home screen. As of now, users of the search bar on the home screen have no other option but to use Google Search. When the above settings menu goes live, selecting a default search engine could work similarly to selecting a default Android launcher.
There’s still a lot that we don’t know about how default search engines will work on the Pixel Launcher. For one, the search bar on the Pixel Launcher heavily reflects Google’s design language and even has the Google Search logo. It’s possible that the design and UI for the search bar could change when a third-party search engine is chosen. That’s all speculation for now, though.
Google’s motives for adding more search options in Pixel Launcher might extend beyond customization. The company was sued last year by the U.S. Justice Department and eight U.S. states for allegedly monopolizing search and advertising. This is just one of many legal battles that Google is currently facing, not only from the U.S. but also from the European Union.
Perhaps Google is trying to appease regulators by opening up choices for search on Pixel devices, similar to how Apple announced plans to bring RCS to iPhones last year. Shortly after, it was reported that the E.U. was leaning against designating iMessage as a gatekeeper service.
Regardless of the intent behind the move, adding the ability to pick default search engines other than Google Search would be a win for Pixel users.