Android Go is Google’s push towards the next 2 billion smartphones
New Delhi: Google’s Android operating system is now powering more than 2 billion devices globally, but the company’s attention is now on the next 2 billion. In comparison, Apple announced in January that 1 billion devices globally are running iOS. To achieve that next 2 billion target, Google is taking another shot at budget Android phones, which are expected to drive volumes. And for that, Google is embarking on a new project called Android Go, which will be a lightweight version of the upcoming Android O operating system.
The idea behind Go is to make Android run smoothly on the most basic Android smartphones, including devices with less than 1GB of RAM. These devices in general run very low power processors, limited connectivity options, don’t have much storage and sometimes require multi-lingual capabilities which the masses might require. There are three parts to the Go project—the operating system, Google’s own apps, and third-party apps that’ll be specifically designed for this nimbler platform.
Google says that Android Go will also have a Play Store version on it, which will highlight apps that are specifically designed for the platform—these apps should be less than 10MB in size and must be able to work, albeit with limited functionality, even without an active internet connection. For its own apps, for example, Google will turn on the Data Saver mode in Chrome by default on devices running Android Go, and it’ll come with the lighter YouTube Go instead of the standard YouTube app.
“We’re also designing Google apps—like YouTube Go, Chrome and Gboard—to use less memory, storage space and mobile data. And there will be a version of the Play Store that highlights apps specifically designed for the next billion users coming online, while still offering the entire app catalog,” said Google, describing Android Go.
There is a suggestion that all future Android versions, starting with O which arrives later this summer, will also have a nimbler Go version. However, the very first Go operating system will be shipped “as an experience” sometime next year, and phone makers will be able to make smartphones with the lighter OS subsequently.
The Android Go project seems very much like the Android One project from a few years ago. However, despite Google’s insistence on a minimum specification baseline for these low-cost devices, those phones made by a variety of partners and for price sensitive markets such as India didn’t turn out to be the dramatic change that many were hoping for. But that means Google will now have previous experience to rely on, which bodes well for Android Go.