Android Go also known as Android Oreo (Go edition), is a stripped-down version of Android designed to run on entry-level smartphones. It’s comprised of three optimized areas — the operating system, Google Play Store, and Google apps — which have been reimagined to provide a better experience on lesser hardware.
The operating system is based on Android Oreo, but it’s optimized to run on smartphones with 512 MB to 1 GB of RAM. It takes up roughly half the space of Android Nougat, giving smartphones with low storage the breathing room to hold more media and apps out of the box — most Android Go smartphones come with 8 or 16 GB of storage.
Devices running Android Go are said to open apps 15 percent faster than previous Android software, although this is also the case with the regular version of Oreo. Additionally, Google has enabled the “data saver” feature for Android Go users by default to help them consume less mobile data.
Like the OS, Google has also developed apps to make better use of the device’s memory. These require up to 50 percent less space and perform better on low-end hardware. Android Go smartphones come with only nine pre-installed apps, listed below:
- Google Go
- Google Assistant Go
- YouTube Go
- Google Maps Go
- Gmail Go
- Gboard Go
- Google Play Store
- Files Go
Keep in mind that these apps may be slimmer and faster, but they might be missing a feature or two. For example, you can’t set reminders or control smart home devices with Assistant Go, but you can do most other standard things like set alarms, open apps, and ask various questions.
It’s worth noting that we can expect to see many other Android Go optimized apps in the near future. Developers can already start producing apps for the OS with the help of Google’s Building for Billions development guidelines.
Building a new OS and pre-installed apps package is a great start for Android Go, but what about when people begin using the device in the real world? To help users maintain their lightweight system they set out with, Android Go devices have access to an exclusive version of the Play Store.
The Android Go Play Store offers all of the same content as the regular Play Store, only the storefront is more suited to low-storage devices. It has a featured apps section that recommends apps specifically for Android Go handsets, pointing users in the direction of apps that will be of most benefit to them.
What’s the point of Android Go? Edit
Demand for smartphones in emerging markets like India is on the rise. Google expects its next billion users to come from these countries, where the purchasing power is lower than in the West. That’s why the company wants to provide them with a new generation of affordable, sub-$100 smartphones that work faster, provide more storage, and help reduce data consumption.
It sounds like a brilliant plan on paper, as it could allow Google to increase the number of users of its apps and services. However, software is only one part of the equation. The company has to get as many hardware partners as possible on board that will flood the market with smartphones, which will not only have to be affordable but also easy on the eyes. Let’s face it, no one wants an ugly smartphone.
A few options are already available on the market, which we’ll take a look at next. But before we do, check out our short “Android Go: A promising start” video below to learn even more about Google’s Go initiative.
Smartphones running Android Go Edit
We saw the first batch of Android Go devices at MWC 2018 in February. Six smartphones were announced, with arguably the most interesting one being the Alcatel 1X. What makes it stand out from the rest is that in addition to an affordable price tag it also comes with an 18:9 display — something we’re more used to seeing on high-end and some mid-range smartphones.
The Alcatel 1X comes in two variants and starts at €100 for a single-SIM and €110 for a dual-SIM version. You can get it with either 1 or 2 GB of RAM, both of which feature a 5.3-inch display with a resolution of 960 x 480 pixels, a 5 MP selfie snapper, and a 2,460 mAh battery — see our hands-on video to learn more.
The next Android Go smartphone that grabbed our attention was the Nokia 1. HMD Global is pitching it as a “transition” device for those moving from feature phones to their first smartphone. It sports a 4.5-inch display, a low-level quad-core MediaTek processor, and 1 GB of RAM.
The device has a polycarbonate back, which users can swap out for various different color options. You’ll be able to get it in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, Asia Pacific, Australia, and Latin America this April for just $85.
Other Android Go devices announced at MWC include the Micromax Bharat Go and Lava Z50, both of which are targeted at Indian consumers. Then there’s also the GM 8 Go and the ZTE Tempo Go, which goes for $85 in the U.S.
Some of these devices are already on sale, while others are yet to be released. Generally speaking, there are minor differences between them when it comes to specs, with one of the biggest ones being screen size.
Six smartphones is a start, but the number will have to increase significantly for Android Go to become successful. We’ll likely see a few more soon, as Huawei and Transsion have already announced they are on board with the program. Let’s hope more companies will follow shortly.