Google is attempting again to make a budget Android platform for developing markets with Android Go, a program that seems similar to Google’s Android One strategy, to create a version of Android for lower-powered devices.
Android Go will be focused around building a version of Android for phones with less memory, with the System UI and kernel able to run with as little as 512MB of memory. Apps will be optimized for low bandwidth and memory, with a version of Play Store designed for those markets that will highlight these apps. Google is also launching a new program called “Building for Billions” to help developers create these new optimized apps. We’ve already seen some of these efforts with Google’s YouTube Go beta, which launched earlier this year in India.
Android devices with less than 1GB of RAM will automatically get Android Go starting with Android O. Google is also committing to releasing an Android Go variant for all future Android versions going forward.
Announced at Google I/O in 2014, the Android One initiative was an interesting attempt from the company to win over what it calls “the next billion” — typically referring to non-smartphone users in developing countries. Android One phones tend to be low-cost devices with less powerful hardware than traditional flagship smartphones, with promises of regular OS updates keeping users on the latest version of Android — something that most major hardware companies struggle with.
While Android One hasn’t been the dramatic, world-changing success that Google hoped for when it was first announced, Android Go could still be an important area for the company. After all, more Android phones with owners who are using the latest Google services instead of relying on whatever preloaded skins and software comes with a device can only be a good thing for expanding Google’s influence.