Ready, Set, GO! The race to a Billion Androids

Android Go

The smartphone industry is rather limited when it comes to hardware. Similar processors, camera sensors, display panels, and all that from the same manufacturers. That, however, isn’t half of what makes or breaks a phone. What differentiates all the glass-metal sandwiches in the market is what they pack inside: software makes or breaks a phone.

Samsung’s TouchWiz/OneUI, Xiaomi’s MiUI and countless more brand-specific interpretations, and now Stock, One and Go experiences: Android has a lot of flavors.

What is it about Android Go that makes it stand out?

Count to 1,000,000,000

Android Go was originally announced in May 2017, although it only made its way to handsets by Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona. Now referred to as Android <version> (Go edition). A successor to the original motivation behind Android One, it picks up where Android One left off — It’s a stripped-down version of Android (specifically Android Oreo for starters) built to run on entry-level devices.

This flavor of Android emulates the original Android One programme’s budget aspirations and is specifically for low-end devices. It’s a cut-down version, so it doesn’t have as many pre-installed apps and has deliberately ‘lite’ or ‘Go’ versions of Google apps, like Maps Go and Gmail Go, which are aimed specifically at polishing the Android usability on less capable hardware.

This new direction was described by Google as their push towards “the next billion Android devices”.

What Sets it Apart

Inherently, Android is open-source. Brands are encouraged to tinker and tweak the software to better fit their devices. That strictly doesn’t hold true for Android One, but Go is a middle-ground.

OS: The software has been stripped down to its bare bones to make the OS lag-free.

Apps:  Every core Android app, from Gmail to Maps to Assistant, has been rebuilt and stripped of extra features to use less memory, storage space, and mobile data. They’re streamlined and now labeled with “Go” (like Gmail Go and Maps Go).

Play: Play store will promote a smoother user experience by highlighting applications that are designed specifically for entry-level devices — such as apps that use less storage space, memory, and data — while still giving users access to the wider app catalog.

Since Android Go is designed for truly low-cost phones, it features data management tools for both internal storage and mobile data. To help aid with limited storage, Android Go is nearly half the size of stock Android which means there’s more room for apps, especially if the phone only has smaller storage. Also, Go and Lite apps are 50 percent smaller in file size — some even need just 1MB to install. Moreover, the Android Go helps users lower data wastage by restricting background data access.

The big difference between Android Go and Android One is that Android Go doesn’t come directly from Google – Google sends it to a company like Nokia, and then Nokia releases it. This also means that the manufacturer like Nila has to release upgrades and updates when they’re pushed from Google, adding in a layer of delay that isn’t existent with stock or Android One.

There are almost two billion Android smartphones in the world, spanning options from 400 manufacturers. While Android One has graduated to higher-end devices, Android Go picks up on its trail to make the Android Experience suitable for everybody, which might just take its count another billion.