Google is apparently easing the requirement for device makers to include its full set of apps on devices powered by Android in order to offer access to key products such as the Google Play store and Gmail, although the company’s move is hardly altruistic.

Google offers its apps on an all-or-nothing basis, meaning that to offer support for one, a vendor must support them all. But, according to The Wall Street Journal, four apps no longer have to be installed in order to gain access to the full suite: Google+, Google Newsstand, Google Play Games and Google Play Books.

But these apps are hardly among the most popular Google offerings, meaning that the key Google Apps effectively still come as a bundle.

The European Commission has opened formal proceedings against Google, with the aim of investigating issues such as whether its bundled approach to implementing its apps on devices has hampered the development of rival products.

While it may argue that by dropping the four apps it has gone some way to ease its requirements, the lack of visible success for these products means it is little more than a token move. But it will mean that vendors no longer have to include less popular titles, which can still be downloaded if needed.

Of course, vendors do have the option of not adopting any of Google’s apps, but in order to gain access to a core product such as the Google Play apps and content catalogue, the whole gamut must be onboard.

And while vendors can opt to include alternative mapping or email clients (for example), the continued and prominent inclusion of the Google titles limits the visibility of the alternatives.