Sameer Samat, the Vice President of Product Management, Android and Google Play, officially unveiled the new Android Go at the Google I/O 2017. Android Go will enable Google to offer the complete Android experience to users in countries with weaker infrastructures and for consumers with low end smartphones. It’s a new effort by Google to launch budget-friendly Android smartphones for developing markets.
You might be wondering if you have heard this same tune before, and you would be right. A few years ago, Google launched a similar effort with Android One and still this year this topic was touched by Google. However, it has not seen much success in terms of sales of new and cheap devices to those targeted markets. The new Android Go platform looks like it has many of the same goals as the older Android One, but with hopefully some improvements that will allow Google to have a better shot at selling more phones.
Android Go will be launched with Android O, but will be an integral part of every Android version in the future. Several key points of the operating system will be optimized and tweaked to take changed specs into account:.
- Android Go gets a new data counter, which allows for a better monitoring of data consumption
- The Data Saver, which helps to save data volumes, will be preset.
- The Play Store will be included with all available apps, but Android Go customized apps will be highlighted.
- The keyboard Gboard functionality will be extended with new translation features.
- Google apps are now optimized for weaker chips and slower networks.
Google says that Android Go will basically be a lightweight version of the upcoming Android O, but designed to run on smartphones that have 1 GB, or even 512 MB, of RAM. Going forward, all Android smartphones that have 1 GB of RAM or less will automatically run Android Go. In addition to the operating system being modified to work on low memory devices, the apps that will be available from the Google Play Store will also be optimized to run on the lower-end hardware.
Perhaps the biggest feature for YouTube Go is that it will allow users to download videos for offline viewing later if they are near a Wi-Fi connection.
One example of such an app is YouTube Go. When running on an Android Go smartphone, the app will let users see preview frames of any video they want. The app also supports the selection of video quality of any clip before streaming begins. Perhaps the biggest feature for YouTube Go is that it will allow users to download videos for offline viewing later if they are near a Wi-Fi connection. This feature is available already for paid YouTube Red subscribers, but it will be a free feature for the YouTube Go app and Android Go phones.
The Play Store in Android Go will also feature apps made specifically for power power and data consumption. In fact, data management is a big feature for the OS, and owners of an Android Go phone will be able to check out data use directly on its notification settings panel.
One of the first questions asked was is Android Go a replacement for Android One? Arpit’s answer was that Android Go is not a replacement for Android One in its current form but rather, Android One is focused on the mid-range market while Android Go is for the entry-level market.
Android Go’s second largest target market is the USA
One of the announcements during Google’s I/O opening keynote on Wednesday was Android Go, a new initiative to solve the problem of Android performance on devices with limited resources. Android Go takes it a step further and not only aims to solve problems around the price of hardware, but also the problem of limited data caps and lingual flexibility for those who don’t have English as a primary language.
At a follow up session, Patrik Tortensson – the technical lead at Google focused on Android Go – announced to a congregation of developers that the US was the second largest market for sub-$100, thanks to the huge demand for prepaid devices. He continued:
Therefore, we’re announcing that, starting with OMR1 all devices shipping with 1GB of RAM or less will get an Android Go configuration and going forward, every Android release will have a Go configuration so this is a sustained effort that will develop over time.
How big is the market? According to Google, a third of all global Android shipments in 2017 will be in the sub-$100 market. Considering that there are hundreds of millions of activations of Android devices each year – with 2 billion active devices in the wild right now – there’s a lot of scope for Android Go. We’re expecting to hear more and have a preview of Android Go towards the end of the year, and the first devices with Go configuration will launch in 2018.
Google says that 95 percent of entry-level device users don’t do a whole lot of switching, usually sticking to the four most recent apps.
Google says that 95 percent of entry-level device users don’t do a whole lot of switching, usually sticking to the four most recent apps. Indeed, for power-hungry users, having almost full-screen cards in the Recents view is certainly less efficient than having stacked cards when it comes to jumping back and forth between multiple apps. However, it may not be so inconvenient for entry-level device users; in fact, it makes more sense. After all, this UI change is what enables fast and fluid switching on devices with 1GB or even 512MB of RAM.