During its I/O developer conference, Google took the wraps off Android Go, in broad strokes the successor to Android One. Put differently, it's Google's attempt to push the Android ecosystem further into developing markets by offering a phone packed with decent specs for less money.
It means Google is yet again attempting to make a budget Android platform, and by the looks of things, Android Go mirrors the original goal of Android One: to create a passable Android ecosystem that can run on less powerful smartphones.
Android Go: What's It For?
This time, Google is focused on building a platform that can run under low specs. To that end, Android Go will be able to function on phones with only 512 MB of memory. Similarly, apps will be optimized for low bandwidth and memory, and the system will even include an iteration of the Play Store that'll highlight exactly these apps. One example is YouTube Go, a YouTube app designed for those with unreliable network connectivity.
Android Go Release Date And Future Plans
"Part of Android's mission is to bring computing to everyone," wrote Dave Burke, Google's VP of Engineering. "We're excited about seeing more users come online for the first time as the price of entry level smart phones drop, and we want to help manufacturers continue to offer lower-cost devices that provide a great experience for these users."
By 2018, all Android devices packing less than 1 GB of RAM will receive Android Go automatically, starting with Android O, the next major version of Android. What's more, Google also said that it wants to release Android Go counterparts to coincide with all mainline Android versions in the future. This means that when Android P, Q, R, S, T, and all remaining letters in the alphabet come around, the company will also launch their respective Android Go counterparts.
Unveiled back in 2014, Android One was supposed to be Google's way to attract "the next billion" of Android users, typically referring to non-smartphone users in developing markets. While it's clear that the initiative has not been successful as Google hoped it would be, it appears that the company will remain trying to get that next billion.
Android Go could still be an important platform for Google if it intends to continue capturing a significant chunk of the smartphone market. As it stands, Android is still the king, having captured 86.8 percent of the total smartphone market this past Q3 2016, according to IDC. That's a steep figure, to be sure, and Android will likely stay there for a long time. But Android Go can get people who won't typically ride the Android train to actually hop on board.
There are currently 2 billion Android devices in the world at present, and Google is betting on Android Go to add 2 billion more. It's a smart move, to be clear, since the company knows fully well that its software should be as widespread as possible, even able to reach people who can't afford steeply priced flagships.
Thoughts about Android Go? Do you think it could achieve the next billion of Android users like Google wants it to? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!