Last night at Google I/O 2017, the company announced its Android operating system runs on 2 billion active smartphones. But what struck a chord with me was that India had more Android users than the US. With such emerging markets in mind, Google unveiled Android Go — a version of Android that is optimized to work on low-cost smartphones. It is clear where the focus lies, and unlike its previous attempt with Android One, this time around Google seems to have a winner on its hands.
Android Go basically has been optimized to work on low-cost smartphones with less than 1GB of memory. Besides the OS itself, Android Go comes with apps like YouTube Go, a toned-down version of the Google Play Store, and features like Chrome Data Saver mode enabled by default. The whole idea here is to offer a good experience on low-cost smartphones, while not consuming a lot of mobile data. Starting with Android O, all smartphones with less than 1GB of RAM will automatically get Android Go. Google has also revealed that Android Go versions of older operating systems too will be eventually rolled out.
This isn’t the first time Google is trying to connect the “next billion” users. About three years back, CEO Sundar Pichai announced an initiative called Android One, which too had a similar focus. Despite spending millions in marketing though, the initiative didn’t really pan out as Google had expected. Dependent upon hardware partners to come with devices, the result was a bunch of not-so-great devices that were relatively expensive, and the overall Android experience too was below par. ALSO READ: Google I/O 2017: 12 key announcements made at Google’s annual developer conference
With Android Go however, Google seems to have learnt from its previous mistakes. For one, there are no set requirements for hardware companies on making Android Go devices. They can simply make a low-cost device, and Google will ensure that users get the best possible Android experience. While it failed to capture the sub-$100 region with Android One, Google could finally hit the sub-$50 (Rs 3,000 approximately) sweet spot with Android Go. For first-time smartphone buyers, this would mean access to dependable devices at prices that won’t burn a hole in one’s pockets. RELATED: Google I/O 2017: 2 billion active smartphones running on Android OS
While details are scarce, Google says Android Go will start rolling out sometime in 2018. It is too early to say if we will eventually see a Google-branded smartphone running on Android Go out-of-the-box. The idea, however, doesn’t sound too far-fetched when you consider, the company had the Nexus lineup in the mid-range, and the Pixel lineup in the premium segment.
What do you think about Google’s Android Go? Let us know in our comments section below.