Google’s highly ambitious project to connect the next billion users, aka Android Go, is officially official now. The global search engine giant announced the formal roll-out of Android Oreo Go Edition (with the subsequent arrival of Android 8.1), which is essentially an operating system designed for entry-level devices, in India on Tuesday. Android Go, if you haven’t heard already, is a revamped version of Android One with a revamped set of apps and features for bare-bone (with regards to hardware) devices even as Android One now caters to slightly more premium hardware. Devices with Android Oreo Go Edition will start shipping from next year, Google further announced.
Android Go, to recall, was first announced at Google I/O 2017, as a special configuration of Android Oreo for entry-level handsets with less than 1GB of RAM. The aim, much like it is in the case of Android One devices, is to offer high-quality handsets with high-quality software at rock-bottom prices. Android One demands handsets to ship with 1GB and more of RAM, but Android Go handsets will be able to support RAM as low as 512MB. Google isn’t giving away any names of device manufacturers who are on-board for now but it would be interesting to see how Android Go holds up now that we have many entry-level phones with an upwards of 1GB of RAM in the market.
What Google is, in fact, giving away is how it has worked and re-worked on software to ensure Android Go becomes the go-to operating system for manufacturers in the days to come especially with regards to those invested in the idea of entry-level handsets. Android Go is a toned down version of Google’s Android OS that we see on high-end devices like the Pixel with optimisations made at every level to make it suitable for low-end devices. Google, for instance, is touting that apps designed for Android Go will have at least 15 per cent faster load times.
Android Go: Google’s next big bet to connect the next billion
Google has re-worked on almost its entire suit of apps, including Google Assistant, Google Maps, YouTube, Gmail, Play, Gboard, and Chrome, for Android Go even as more and more developers are lending their support for the platform. Google notes that all Android Go devices will come pre-bundled with a Play Store that will house both kinds of apps: those designed/optimised specifically for Android Go and others that are not. Users can chose to download and install both kinds of apps but the user experience will vary from app to app, the company adds.
Google has, at the same time, announced a new Files app called Files Go and a new search app called Google Go that although have been designed for Android Go devices will also be available for standard Android devices from the Play Store.
“Oreo devices with 512MB to 1GB of RAM will get all the optimizations that come with Android Oreo (Go edition), including a better performing OS with built-in data management features and security benefits. There is also a new set of pre-installed Google apps, including Google Go and Google Assistant for Android Oreo (Go edition), designed to be lighter and more relevant to the unique needs of the next billion users. Android Oreo (Go edition) smartphones also come with a version of the Google Play Store that enables users to download any app, while highlighting the apps designed to work best on Go edition devices,” Sameer Samat, VP, product management, Play + Android said.
Android Go, besides aiding in a smooth lag-free experience on bare-bone devices, will also ensure the software is relatively light on storage. Just like it has been designed for devices with less than 1GB of RAM, Google has said that devices with as low as 4GB and 8GB of internal storage are likely to benefit from the new OS. Apps designed for Android Go will take up up to 50 per cent less space allowing for up to 2X more storage availability than on standard Android Nougat-based phones, it says. This can be used, for instance, to save up to 1,000 more photos on Android Go-based devices.
Google admits that Android One did not receive the kind of response that it had hoped for but at the same time phones like the recently launched Xiaomi Mi A1 have sort of renewed interest in the platform something that pushed the company into not giving up and bring Android Go as a fresh attempt to connect the masses. Google isn’t giving away a time-line up to when Android Go devices will get major updates. Also, it has made it clear that software updates would depend a lot on device manufacturers at the end of the day, but we can expect the same level of treatment you get on a high-end Pixel. FYI, all Android Go devices will be upgradable to Android P as and when Google announces it.