Android Go, also known as Android (Go edition), is a stripped-down version of Android designed to run on entry-level smartphones. It’s comprised of three optimized areas — the operating system, Google Play Store, and Google apps — which have been reimagined to provide a better experience on lesser hardware.
Android Go operating system
The Android Go operating system is based on the regular version of Android but it’s optimized to run on smartphones with 512 MB to 1 GB of RAM. The first version of Android Go was modeled on Android Oreo, but the latest iteration is based on Android 11. Android Go phones receive updates just like regular Android phones; we expect an Android Q Go edition to arrive in the future.
Android Go takes up less space than the regular Android version, giving smartphones with low storage the breathing room to hold more media and apps out of the box — most Android Go smartphones come with 8 or 16 GB of storage.
Devices running Android Go are also said to be able to open apps 15 percent faster than if they were running the regular Android software. Additionally, Google has enabled the “data saver” feature for Android Go users by default to help them consume less mobile data.
Android Go apps
Like the OS, Google has also developed apps to make better use of the device’s memory. These require up to 50 percent less space and perform better on low-end hardware. Android Go smartphones come with only nine pre-installed apps, listed below:
- Google Go
- Google Assistant Go
- YouTube Go
- Google Maps Go
- Gmail Go
- Gboard Go
- Google Play Store
- Files Go
Keep in mind that these apps may be slimmer and faster, but they might be missing a feature or two. For example, you can’t set reminders or control smart home devices with Assistant Go, but you can do most other standard things like set alarms, open apps, and ask various questions.
It’s worth noting that we can expect to see many other Android Go optimized apps in the near future. Developers can already start producing apps for the OS with the help of Google’s Building for Billions development guidelines.
Android Go Play Store
Building a new OS and pre-installed apps package is a great start for Android Go, but what about when people begin using the device in the real world? To help users maintain the lightweight system they set out with, Android Go devices have access to an exclusive version of the Play Store.
The Android Go Play Store offers all of the same content as the regular Play Store, only the storefront is more suited to low-storage devices. It has a featured apps section that recommends apps specifically for Android Go handsets, pointing users in the direction of apps that will be of most benefit to them.
What’s the point of Android Go?
Demand for smartphones in emerging markets like India is on the rise. Google expects its next billion users to come from these countries, where the purchasing power is lower than in the West. That’s why the company wants to provide them with a new generation of affordable, sub-$100 smartphones that work faster, provide more storage, and help reduce data consumption.
It sounds like a brilliant plan on paper, as it could allow Google to increase the number of users of its apps and services. However, software is only one part of the equation. The company has to get as many hardware partners as possible on board that will flood the market with smartphones, which will not only have to be affordable but also easy on the eyes. Let’s face it, no one wants an ugly smartphone.
A few options are already available on the market, which we’ll take a look at next. But before we do, check out our short “Android Go: A promising start” video below to learn even more about Google’s Go initiative.