Google announces Android Go, a light version of Android for inexpensive smartphones
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Android is by far the most popular mobile operating system right now. About 2 billion devices run some version of Android in markets all around the globe, and Google hopes to put Android phones into even more hands with Android Go.
Android Go, announced today at Google’s I/O 2017 event, is a lightweight version of Android O that is specifically tailored to run on cheap, low-specced smartphones. While even budget phones have some respectable power behind them here in developed markets like the U.S. and Europe, other markets may have limited options to what devices they can purchase. In developing countries with limited support for connected devices, low-powered smartphones are commonplace. Android Go will be made for these; the OS can run on paltry specs compared to other devices. The Play Store on Android Go will also feature certain “Go” style apps that can run on slow SoCs and less than 1 GB of RAM. Most of these apps will be light on storage requirements as well and should use less than 10 MB of available space.
Google has tried initiatives targeted at cheaper phones in the past. The Android One program rolled out in 2014 created a line of inexpensive smartphones that would receive the latest versions of Android. Google had countries like Pakistan, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and other developing countries in mind with the program. While Android One lives on, the phones have become less and less popular as other OEMs continue to bring more power at a cheaper cost.
Android Go is a bit different; here, Google is using software to try to sell phones, not hardware. The tech giant has plans to create an Android Go variant of all future releases of Android, increasing the viability of the platform. Instead of competing directly with OEMs like they did with Android One, Google may be able to leverage the increasing push towards capable and affordable devices in developing countries by letting manufacturers incur the cost of creating and selling hardware while reaping the benefits of having Android Go loaded on the devices.
Google is anticipating rollouts of Android Go to start in 2018.
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Google I/O 2017