Google mobile app agreement requires installation of all Google apps

Google Android logoOne of the many court cases between Apple and Samsung has revealed new details in the agreement that mobile device manufacturers sign with Google when they decide to use the Google apps on their Android devices. Known as the Mobile Application Distribution Agreement (MADA), it covers everything from what apps are required to items such as the position of the Google search box and position of apps in relation to the home page.

Under the terms of MADA, should a manufacturer want to use but one Google app, say GMail, they have to install all Google apps. They must also adhere to requirements around the search engine to use (Google, of course) and even rules around placement of app icons on the homescreens. For example, “Google Phone-top Search and the Android Market Client icon must be placed at least on the panel immediately adjacent to the Default Home Screen.”

The agreement obtained by Re/code dates back to 2011. It details the agreement between Google and Samsung. New agreements have likely evolved but it is unlikely that they have gotten less restrictive. It is more likely that new requirements have been added. For example, recent boot screens on devices have begun to show the tagline ‘Powered by Android.’

For its part, Google indemnifies manufacturers for the use of its apps. This move was seen as a way for Google to help cover Samsung’s legal costs in its battle with Apple over various patent infringements.

Google also agrees as part of the contract to legally indemnify device makers for their use of the apps, an issue that cropped up in the current Apple case, with Google agreeing to cover Samsung’s defense of at least two of the five patents that Samsung is accused of infringing.

Manufacturers that do not want to abide by the terms of MADA can turn to the open source version of Android. Its terms of use are far freer but also mean that the device will not come with the Google apps that so many users expect to see on an Android phone.

Those that don’t want to use Google’s apps can just use the which has much less restrictive licensing terms.

It should not come as a surprise that other software companies have similar agreements. For example, Microsoft requires that, “by default, the only search provider included on the phone is Bing.”

A full copy of the 2011 MADA between Google and Samsung is available at Re/code for your reading pleasure.

Source : Re/code