Google has confirmed that first batch of smartphones running Android Oreo (Go edition) will be officially announced at Mobile World Congress next week. The search giant has not name dropped any of the upcoming products, but it does add that some of these devices will cost less than $50 (around Rs 3,500).
Google first announced Android Oreo (Go edition) as an attempt to attract next billion internet users at I/O 2017 last year, and further detailed the initiative at ‘Google For India’ event in December. The operating system, unlike similar initiatives in the past, brings tweaked app ecosystem and underlying core of the OS, to make for a smooth user experience in the budget price segment. The operating system will ship with optimized apps like Files Go, YouTube Go, Google Go and apps will be distributed via an optimized variant of the Play Store.
Google says that the Play Store on Android Oreo (Go edition) will highlight the apps that are lightweight, and designed primarily for the Go edition. “Starting next week, you’ll see the first set of Android Oreo (Go edition) phones, and soon after they’ll be available for you to purchase,” said Hiroshi Lockheimer, Senior Vice President, Platforms & Ecosystems in a blog post.
The Android Oreo (Go edition) smartphones will come preloaded with apps like Gmail Go, Google Go, Assistant Go, Maps Go, Files Go, YouTube Go and optimized versions of Chrome and Play Store. As the name implies, Gmail Go is for email, Google Go is for search, YouTube Go is for saving YouTube videos for offline viewing and sharing, Files Go is a file explorer with support for peer-to-peer sharing, Maps Go is for direction and navigation and Assistant Go is for voice assistant. Google says these optimized apps will bring 15 percent improvement in app performance and almost double the free storage space since the OS and built-in apps take less memory.
Apart from low memory consumption and cheaper price point, the smartphones running Android Oreo (Go edition) also promise an up-to-date software. With Go edition, Google wants to fix the fragmentation issue even before devices start shipping with the operating system. The Android Go edition smartphones will have less than 1GB RAM and probably 8GB of storage.
Leading chip makers Qualcomm and MediaTek have already confirmed their support for Android Oreo (Go edition). At MWC 2018, HMD Global is anticipated to announce Nokia 1 based on Android Oreo (Go edition). Besides, we might also see announcements from Indian brands like Micromax, Lava, Karbonn and Intex, which have already pledged their support to the ecosystem.
Android One, the first major attempt by Google to streamline its mobile OS for budget devices, will also be showcased at MWC 2018. Google has found renewed interest in Android One after the launch of Xiaomi Mi A1 last year. At the event, HMD Global is expected to announce Nokia 7 Plus with Android One branding.
This year, MWC 2018 is expected to be quieter with brands like Huawei and LG not bringing their A game to the event. However, Google might sidestep these big guys, and show a handful of devices running stock Android. The announcement of Android Oreo (Go edition) and Android One devices at MWC 2018 will further highlight the pain point of Android software updates. Stay tuned, we will have more updates live from Barcelona starting this weekend.