Entry-level Android smartphones would be performing a lot better in the near future. During Google’s I/O 2017 conference, the search giant unveiled Android Go, an upcoming version of the popular mobile operating system that is optimized for low-spec devices, specifically smartphones with 1GB of RAM or less. With Android Go, even smartphones with as little as 512MB of RAM would be able to run applications smoothly, providing users with a better mobile experience overall.
The Android Go strategy echoes much of Google’s previous Android One initiative, a program unveiled during its I/O 2014 conference. Android One is quite similar to Android Go in the way that both initiatives are geared towards low-end devices in emerging markets. During Android One’s introduction three years ago, Google was quick to declare that it was going after “the next billion” smart devices in emerging markets across the globe. With Android Go, Google appears to be going after the same demographic, as well as smartphone users who have opted to stay away from upgrades during the last couple of years.
A report from The Verge stated that Android Go would feature a System UI and kernel that is optimized to run flawlessly on devices with as little as 512MB RAM. Android Go devices would come with optimized, low-memory apps and their own version of the Google Play Store which prioritizes applications that consume less memory. With this, Google has also announced its “Building for Billions” program, which is designed to aid developers in creating applications for emerging markets and low-spec devices. Android O would be available for users of these devices once the full-fledged Android O update rolls out later this year.
— Android (@Android) May 17, 2017
Android Go makes an interesting addition to Google’s growing plethora of products and devices. Currently, Android stands as the undisputed king of mobile operating systems, with around 2 billion active smartphones and tablets across the globe running a version of the OS, according to a USA Today report. While the devices running Android far outnumbers those of its rivals such as Apple’s iOS, the number of devices running its latest version, Android Nougat, are considerably few. A huge portion of the 2 billion active Android devices in the market today continue to run older versions of the OS, in devices that are considerably low-specced.
Most of these low-cost devices are found in emerging markets such as India, a country where entry-level smartphones are king. Back when Google launched Android One in 2014 alone, sub-$200 handsets comprised 78 percent of all smartphone sales in the country. Most of these sub-$200 smartphones, of course, are manufactured with entry-level specs, commonly with basic processors and less than 1GB of RAM.
While Android One has not really been the world-changer that Google built it up to be, the upcoming launch of Android Go might finally enable the search giant to unify the billions of devices across the world that are currently running its mobile operating system. Android, after all, was not designed only for the mobile community’s top-tier devices.
— Bryan Ma (@bryanbma) May 17, 2017
Together with Android Go, Google has also officially announced YouTube Go, a special version of the video-streaming application that is specifically designed for users with limited data connectivity. The app already launched in India earlier this year, to much appreciation from users. With YouTube Go, users would be able to view sneak peaks of videos before actually using their mobile data to watch them. Videos could also be saved on devices for offline viewing later on. YouTube Go even has a feature which enables users to share videos offline through peer-to-peer sharing.
Considering the number of devices on wild that are still running Android Jelly Bean and Kit-Kat, there is definitely a market for low-spec devices in the mobile industry. Android One did not end up becoming a worldwide phenomenon as Google built it up to be, but with Android Go, the search giant is giving itself another shot at making the whole Android community into a unified whole.
[Featured Image by Eric Risberg/AP Images]