For a couple years now, Google has been planning to get its next billion users from countries like India where 500 million users have been estimated to make their way online for the first time over the span of next five years. For the same reason, the tech-giant sees a lot of untapped potential in catering to this growing market and have come out with a new product – Android Go.
What is Android Go?
Android Go, also known as Android Oreo (Go edition), is a light-weight, more of a stripped-down version of Android that has been designed to run effectively on entry-level smartphones. It serves as a powerful experience for entry-level smartphones. Built with new and reimagined apps, this has been regarded as the best of Android.
Similar to the standard version of Android, Android Go employs the same foundation, however, several stability and performance tweaks have been made to it to ensure it works smoothly on devices with weak hardware.
Android Go phones, just like all the other devices certified by Google, come with Google Play Protect out of the box. Having the security suite allows the machine to detect malicious apps on the phone. Moreover, it also constantly scans your app installations – even those that haven’t been downloaded directly from the Play Store – to make sure your device remains completely secure.
Android Go encompasses three optimized areas – the operating system (OS), Google Play Store, and Google apps. The apps have been reimagined to provide a better and powerful experience on lesser hardware.
Android Go – Operating System
The operating system of Android Go is based on the model of Android Oreo. However, it’s optimized to run smoothly on smartphones comprising of 512 MB to 1 GB of RAM. This OS takes up almost half the space of Android Nougat, giving smartphones with low storage enough room for holding more apps and media files. Even most Android Go smartphones have been designed with 8 or 16 GB of storage so that the operating system works efficiently on them.
Devices running on Android Go are said to open apps 15 percent faster than the previous Android operating system, though this is also said about the regular version of Oreo. Furthermore, the ‘data saver’ feature has been enabled by default, helping users consume less mobile data.
Android Go – Google Apps
Apart from the OS, Google has also developed apps to make better use of the Android Go’s device memory. These apps require up to 50 percent less space and perform extraordinarily well on a lesser hardware. Initially, most of the Android Go smartphones come with nine pre-installed apps: Google Go, Google Assistant Go, YouTube Go, Google Maps Go, Gboard Go, Google Play Store, Files Go, and Chrome.
While these apps may be faster and slimmer, they might be missing a few features. For instance, with Assistant Go, you won’t be able to set reminders or control smart home devices but you can do most of the other standard things such as opening apps, setting alarms, and asking various questions.
Having said that, these Google apps perform really well on the low-end hardware nevertheless. Google has been planning to launch several other Android Go optimized apps in the coming future. In fact, developers can already start designing apps for the OS by taking the guidelines from Google’s Building for Billions development project.
Android Go – Google Play Store
As far as building a new, optimized OS and pre-installed apps for the Android Go is concerned, Google has taken a brilliant initiative. However, when we speak of the real world, where people will begin using the apps on their Android Go device, a lightweight platform is needed that can help users locate the apps that can be easily stored on their device.
Fortunately, Google has developed an exclusive Play Store for the Android Go devices that offers all of the same content available on the regular Play Store only with the exception of the storefront which is suited for low-storage devices.
Like the regular Play Store, it has a section for featured apps that recommends apps specifically for Android Go devices, ushering users in the directions of apps that will be most suited to them.
Why Android Go?
Google’s plan to fulfill the demand for entry-level smartphones in the emerging markets of countries like India has been accomplished to some extent. India is a massively populated country, where demand for the smartphones is on the rise. The purchasing power in that country is lower than in the West. Taking this into consideration, Google wants to provide the users with an affordable smartphone comprising of a new generation that works faster, provides extra storage space, and helps reduce mobile data consumption.
Undoubtedly, the plan sounds brilliant as it can allow Google to increase their user base by providing low-cost apps and services to the users. However, software is only one side of the equation. The tech-giant still has to get as many hardware partners as possible on board that will help overflow the market with affordable and gen-next smartphones. Apart from being affordable and effective, they also have to appeal to the eyes.
Google has already sent a wave of Android Go smartphones in the market.
Android Go Smartphones
This year in February, Google announced the first wave of Android Go smartphones at the Mobile World Congress. Initially, six smartphones were announced, with Alcatel 1X being arguably the most interesting of the lot. The reason why this model stands out from the rest is that apart from being an affordable smartphone, it also has an 18:9 display – something we’re more likely to see on high-end and few mid-range smartphones.
After Alcatel 1X, Nokia 1 is the Android Go smartphone to capture our attention. HMD Global has been declaring it as a ‘transition’ device for those who have been planning to move from feature phones to their first ever smartphone. It comprises of 1GB of RAM with a 4.5-inch display and a low-level quad-code MediaTek processor.
Other Android Go smartphones that were also announced at the MWC 2018 were the Micromax Bharat Go and Lava Z50, both of which are solely targeted at the Indian users. The other ones include GM 8 Go and the ZTE Tempo Go, which have been priced at $85 in the US.
While some of these devices are already up for sale, the other ones still haven’t been released. The only major distinction between these smartphones is the size of the display screen. Rest of the specs are pretty much the same.
These six Android Go smartphones are just a beginning. However, to survive in the market, the number has to significantly increase for them to succeed. Tech-giants like Huawei and Transsion have already announced their collaboration with this program so let’s hope to see more of these smartphones soon in the market.