Skip to main content

Google is paying a $700 million fine, and you’re getting some of it

Google Play Store on the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

If you think your Tuesday is off to a rough start, at least you aren’t Google. In the wee hours of the morning on Tuesday, December 19, Google confirmed that it’s paying $700 million as part of a settlement regarding antitrust concerns around the Google Play Store.

In July 2021, over 30 states (plus Washington, D.C.) filed a lawsuit against Google over its business practices related to the Google Play Store on Android. Specifically, the lawsuit targeted fees Google charges developers to use the Play Store — and the alleged lack of competition the Play Store allows. Google settled the lawsuit this past September, and now Google has announced the details of that settlement.

Google’s paying you $630 million … kind of

Google sign displaying pride colors at their office building in Chelsea
Alexi Rosenfeld / Getty Images

Out of the total $700 million for the settlement, $630 million will be “distributed for the benefit of consumers.” In other words, Google is paying that money directly to people who have used the Play Store.

Per the Associated Press, “eligible consumers” will get a minimum of $2 from Google. However, depending on how much money you spent on the Google Play Store from August 16, 2016, through September 30, 2023, you may be eligible for additional cash.

It’s currently unclear when those payments will start going out, but you should automatically be notified when that happens. A couple of dollars in your pocket may not be a significant amount of money, but that’s still $2 you didn’t have before.

The remaining $70 million is going to a “fund that will be used by the states,” though details on what that money will be used for aren’t mentioned.

Easier app sideloading on Android

Showing the app drawer on the Google Pixel 8 Pro.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

In addition to paying millions of dollars in fines, Google is also making some changes to how you download and pay for apps on Android phones — including establishing an easier process for sideloading apps you get outside of the Play Store.

The specifics of this new sideloading process are still pretty murky. Google simply says it “will be further simplifying the sideloading process and updating the language that informs users about these potential risks of downloading apps directly from the web for the first time.”

Other Play Store changes

Google Play Store presentation.
Google

Other changes are coming to the Google Play Store as well. Android has already allowed manufacturers to preinstall alternative app stores beyond the Play Store, but as part of this settlement, Google will make it even clearer to companies that they can “continue to provide users with options out of the box to use Play or another app store.”

Google is also changing how the Play Store handles billing. Last November, Google launched a pilot program in the U.S. that allowed app developers to offer their own in-app payment options as alternatives to the Play Store’s default system. This will now expand further throughout the U.S. Additionally, “developers are also able to show different pricing options within the app when a user makes a digital purchase.”

This news comes just days after Google lost its antitrust lawsuit against Epic Games. The details of that ruling will be announced sometime in January.

Editors' Recommendations

Joe Maring
Section Editor, Mobile
Joe Maring is the Section Editor for Digital Trends' Mobile team, leading the site's coverage for all things smartphones…
I’m excited for the Google Pixel Fold, and you should be too
Side view of the Pixel Fold

It’s official: the Google Pixel Fold is coming. After months of rumors and speculation, Google revealed the Pixel Fold on Star Wars Day, of all days. With the tagline “May The Fold Be With You,” Google dropped a tweet that showed off the Pixel Fold in all of its glory. And now, after the official announcement at Google I/O 2023, the Google Pixel Fold is shaping up to be one of the more exciting releases this year.

I’ve always been an iPhone gal, but since I joined Digital Trends, I’ve been checking out Android phones more than ever before. I’ve taken quite a liking to the Pixel lineup of devices, including the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7a, which also just dropped today. But the Google Pixel Fold is the one device I can’t wait to get my hands on, especially when compared to the competing Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 (and the Galaxy Z Fold 5, which is likely coming this year too).
It looks like the perfect compact size

Read more
Google Pixel 7a colors: here’s every option you can get
The Google Pixel 7a in Charcoal, Snow, Sea, and Coral colors.

While the technical specs of a phone play a large part in the decision-making process of picking up a new device, how it looks can be equally as important for many people. Luckily, phone manufacturers have caught on to that fact and provide multiple color options for most modern smartphones — allowing buyers to have a few options when picking up their favorite new smartphones.

The color options that Google has had on offer over the past few years have been some of our favorites, and the new Pixel 7a is following in the footsteps of countless Google devices by being offered in some excellent shades. There are four Pixel 7a color options in total, and honestly, it's a little tough to pick a favorite.

Read more
What is Google Assistant? Here’s the guide you need to get started
Using Google Assistant on the Google Pixel Watch.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is huge news right now, thanks to chatbots like ChatGPT -- but did you know you can already access an AI on your Android phone? Google Assistant is Google's AI-powered voice assistant, and it's available on Android, iOS, and a large number of smart devices (like Google's Nest speakers). While not as capable as ChatGPT (yet), Google Assistant can handle an impressive number of tasks — including pausing and resuming songs and videos, making tasks and reminders, and in some cases, even taking and screening phone calls for you.

That may seem like a lot, but Google Assistant is relatively simple to use. If you've never used a voice assistant before, we've got this guide to help you get to grips with it and take your first steps.
What is Google Assistant?

Read more