Google finally unveiled first set of smartphones powered by its Android Oreo (Go edition) at the ongoing Mobile World Congress being held in Barcelona, Spain. At MWC 2018, HMD Global, Alcatel and ZTE showed the first range of low-cost smartphones running Google’s tweaked operating system.
The smartphones running Android Oreo (Go edition) are seen as the potential devices for those upgrading from a feature phone or purchasing their first smartphone. India, the fastest growing smartphone market is one of the potential market for Android Go-based smartphones. Bharti Airtel, India’s largest telecom service provider, has announced a partnership with Google to bring these low-cost devices to the market.
The partnership means that India will be one of the first countries to get smartphones running on Android Oreo (Go edition). Airtel says entry-level 4G smartphones available under ‘Mera Pehla Smartphone’ program will be shipped with Android Oreo (Go edition) as standard OS starting March 2018. The two leading homegrown smartphone makers, Lava and Micromax, will introduce the first set of smartphones running the operating system. While Android Oreo (Go edition) is primarily about stock Android experience, the phones from Airtel will come loaded with apps like MyAirtel, Airtel TV and Wynk Music.
“This partnership is a major milestone for the ‘Mera Pehla Smartphone’ initiative. Android Go will provide a massive boost to our efforts to bring affordable smartphone options to the market and potentially enable hundreds of millions of feature phone users and unconnected people to get online,” said Vani Venkatesh, Chief Marketing Officer – Bharti Airtel.
To recall, Android Oreo (Go edition) was first announced at Google I/O 2017, and was detailed further at ‘Google For India’ event in New Delhi in December last year. The operating system comes bundled with lightweights apps like YouTube Go, Google Go, Gmail Go, Files Go, Assistant Go and other Go-branded apps. The Play Store on Android Go has also been tweaked to give priority to lightweight apps and Google aims to reduce fragmentation and keep them updated all the time.
Earlier in the day, Lava announced its first smartphone running Android Oreo (Go edition) called Lava Z50. Micromax is also expected to launch its Android Go smartphone called Bharat Go sometime soon. HMD Global, the new home of Nokia phones, is expected to launch Nokia 1 based on Android Oreo (Go edition) in April.
For Google, the Android Go edition serves as an opportunity to connect next billion users with its platform. The company also promises to offer a streamlined user experience with the operating system. Airtel will offer data connectivity to make the most out of Google’s operating system.