We heard about Android Go this year, in May when Google promised a version of Android custom-designed for low-end devices, at Google I/O 2017. Google has now officially launched Android Go, the company’s new software project designed for developing markets. Google has opened up Android Go, or Android Oreo (Go edition) as it’s also known, to OEMs who can now start developing for the platform, and has launched a new section of the Android site dedicated to the system.
Basically, Android Go is a lightweight version of Android Oreo, comprised of three, optimized areas: the operating system, the Google Play Store, and the Google apps. These have been reimagined for Android Oreo (Go edition) to make them run better on lesser hardware.
It’s a build of Android Oreo that is designed to run better on phones with either 512MB or 1GB of RAM. By comparison, the Pixel 2 (like most flagships) has 4GB of RAM, while the iPhone X has 3GB and the Galaxy Note 8 has a splendid 6GB.
Talking about the optimized areas, the OS will help in optimizing cellular data usage across apps. The PlayStore will also be revamped for Go devices, with suggestions for lighter versions of Android apps on the home page.
When it comes to apps, Google has redesigned a bunch of apps for utilizing lesser space while providing a decent experience to users. The bunch of Go-optimized apps includes Google Go, Google File Go, Google Assistant Go, Gmail Go, Maps Go and an optimized Gboard.
There are also “performance and storage improvements” in the Go edition of Oreo, and seeing this it might be tempting to want that for every Android phone. But in this case, that’s not necessarily true; optimizing an app to take up less storage can also mean it takes a little longer to launch. On phones where storage is at a premium, you optimize for that. On most high-end phones, however, you’d rather get those milliseconds back.
Android Go, by comparison, is a full release of Android available from the Android Open Source Project for any manufacturer to use. However, it’s pretty important to note that much (if not most) of what makes the Go edition special comes from Google’s own apps. So it’s not totally clear how much impact we’ll actually see in areas where Google’s apps aren’t available.
Hence to sum up, it might seem like a very tempting offer, so much that one would jump for it without giving much thought. However, a major focus on storage and data usage optimization means that these devices won’t be as slick as a full-blown Oreo powered a smartphone.
Nevertheless the version would first be launched in India as the news goes, for it has more users there than in the US.
In a Google blog post, Android director of product management Sagar Kamdar noted that of the 2 billion Android users around the world, more are in India than the US.
“To make sure billions more people can get access to computing, it’s important that entry-level devices are fully functioning smartphones that can browse the web and use apps,” Kamdar said.