Ever since Google CEO Sundar Pichai took the helms of the world’s most valuable brand, he has made it his mission to bring smartphones to lower-income communities. Born in India, Mr. Pichai has created several programs to address the needs of the Indian market, particularly the lower income families.
Mr. Pichai has created several programs aimed at lowering the price of entry-level smartphones by reducing the cost of the parts within them while still providing a smooth experience. One of Mr. Pichai’s first attempts at this was the Android One program. Now, both Android One and a newer program called Android Go are making waves, so I’ll explain each and highlight the differences below.
Android One provided a stock Android experience on entry-level devices. These devices shared similar internals and addressed two issues: First, parts would be cheaper thanks to the use of stock Android and the fact that Android One phones would be based on a reference model designed to run the latest version of Android smoothly.
The second issue addressed by the Android One program is perhaps more important: Because the phones run stock Android with heavy involvement from Google, updates happen much faster than typical Android phones like the Galaxy S series or LG’s G lineup, coming in around the time the Pixel lineup received updates.
Despite the success of this program, the price of these devices was still fairly high due to resources required by the Android system. Since Android One is identical to regular Android at its core, devices with modern displays were required to have at least 1344 MB of RAM, among other mid- to high-end hardware requirements. This meant the minimum cost for an Android One phone was still too high for many families in emerging markets.
While visiting his alma mater, Sundar Pichai stated that Google and their Android hardware partners needed to bring the price of phones down to $30 to improve adoption in countries like India. This belief, along with stockholders’ desire to continue the spread of Android adoption, has led to the creation of Android Go — or more accurately, Android Oreo (Go edition).
Android Oreo (Go edition)
Android Oreo (Go edition) is an optimized version of Android 8.1 Oreo designed to run on devices with 512 MB to 1 GB of RAM. However, instead of changing the experience entirely, Google has been able to lower the resources needed across the board to create a new lightweight version of Android.
In other words, unlike Android One, Android Go is a modified version of Android specifically built to run on low-end hardware. But it isn’t just the operating system that got a revision.
Thanks to how mobile operating systems works, apps are the main way consumers interact with their phones. Therefore, even if Android Go is optimized, if the individual apps need a high amount of resources, phones with low-end hardware would still be crippled.
Google was aware of this and redesigned their suite of Google apps for Android Go. Apps such as YouTube, Maps, Gmail, Assistant, Messages, Files, Camera, and many others all have Go versions that run smoothly on these devices. Additionally, the Play Store on Android Go phones will promote “lite” versions of apps more so users can avoid installing high-resource apps (although the entire Play Store is available, meaning all regular Android apps can still be installed).
Google has also opened up the Go platform to third-party app developers to create their own lightweight apps. Many popular apps such as Skype and Instagram have already created “Go” editions of their apps.
Upcoming Devices with Android Go
While the first wave of Android Go devices didn’t meet Sundar Pichai’s $30 price point, they are much more affordable than before the program. Phones such as the Nokia 1 and ZTE Tempo Go all come in below $90.
Additionally, unlike the Android One phones that are slowly trickling out stateside, we don’t have to wait three years for an available Android Go device. US customers can purchase the ZTE Tempo Go for $85 right now.
Android Oreo (Go edition) could potentially be one of the most important intiatives for Android. With approximately 6 billion people in emerging markets, the continuing growth of Android adoption will require addressing the needs of these individuals.
With a smartphone now equivalent to a mini-PC, communities (and countries) can transform overnight, having similar resources as the rest of the world. And by including developed nations like the US in the program so early, older individuals and children can enjoy the luxury and convenience of a smartphone thanks to its low cost. What do you think of Android One and Android Go? Would you purchase a Go edition phone for your loved ones? Let us know in the comment below.