At the Google I/O 2017 developers conference, the tech giant presented a slimmed down version of Android OS called as Android Go. This optimised OS has been targetted at cheap phones, primarily used in the developing world. The new lite version of the OS will automatically enable data-saving features and will steer users toward apps designed specifically for the inexpensive hardware. With Android Go, Google is clearly aiming for the low-end consumers with low internet connectivity.
The new program called Android Go bakes features directly into the mobile OS which are designed precisely for cheap phones. It also includes software to manage cellular data costs. This new service by Alphabet Inc’s division will launch in 2018. This new feature is interesting because, while a new Android OS gets unveiled every year, most phones running the software keep using older versions. Such devices do not get regular security and feature updates. This has been a continual issue for Google.
Meanwhile, Google wrote on its blog: “We’re excited about seeing more users come online for the first time as the price of entry level smartphones drops, and we want to help manufacturers continue to offer lower-cost devices that provide a great experience for these users”. But Android Go is made for the ‘next billion’. This means, it caters to the huge population in developing countries in Asia and Africa, who use Android devices but suffer from high data charges which make it difficult for them to use Google services. Sameer Samat, a Google executive, said on stage that the new OS has a feature that easily tracks mobile data usage and ties automatically with the billing systems of wireless carriers.
Earlier, Google tried its hand to solve similar problems with Android One program, but it failed to take off in markets like India. The main issue was that the manufacturing companies would not be able to make much money just by selling the hardware. Android Go, however, supports smartphones with less than 1GB memory. So it’s designed for an entry-level Android device that’s priced below Rs 5,000.
A budget Android smartphone is usually unable to handle high range apps, but with Android Go, the device’s software can use less memory, storage space, and mobile data. Essentially it will make apps a bit lighter. Also, Google Play Store will promote apps and games designed to run on low-end devices. Google has been trying similar features in other apps as well. YouTube Go is another feature where you can preview videos before loading a heavy video, and you can also select a lower streaming quality to conserve data.