All the tech jargon mumbo-jumbo often makes it hard to keep up with Google's many products and services. What's Android O? What's Lollipop, Marshmallow, Nougat? Now that it has announced a new platform named "Android Go," people might be more confused as ever.
For starters, Lollipop, Marshmallow, and Nougat are major versions of Android — like Windows XP, Vista, 7, 10. Google releases software updates in an alphabetical order, meaning Nougat is newer than Marshmallow, which is newer than Lollipop, and so on. The newest one, "O," doesn't have a name yet because it's just been announced. But there's a separate Android version altogether called Android Go. What is it?
Gadgets 360 caught up with Sameer Samat, Google's VP of Product Management for Android and Google Play, and he provided more details about Android Go.
First things first: Android Go isn't a new version of Android — but a "project name inside Google." In fact, there's no separate operating system called Android Go. All Android Go devices will ship with Android O, explained Samat.
Android Go: What Is It Exactly?
So if it's running Android O, then why is it still called Android Go? Well, Samat likened it to preset settings that your Android O device ships with. If you purchase an Android Go device, it'll run Android O, yes, but a bit differently — some OS settings will be switched on by default, some Google apps will be configured differently, and the Play Store will highlight different apps optimized for Android Go specifically.
Android Go: Why Are Apps Optimized?
So why do apps need to be optimized for Android Go? Well, that's because at its core, Android Go is a platform meant to cater to developing countries, some of which might not have highly stable and reliable internet speeds. Android Go is developed around such limitations, providing users a smooth Android O experience despite the handicaps associated with underwhelming internet connectivity.
"The way this works is that Android has a configuration when you build a device in factory and we are effectively putting a Go configuration in place ... what we are saying is if you are gonna build a device that [has 1 GB of RAM or less] then you should build it with the [Android] Go OS configuration," explained Samat.
Android Go Is Still Android O
Samat stressed that all Android apps that can run on Android O can run on Android Go devices, assuming, of course, the hardware can support it. The point is, Android Go isn't a specialized Android version that's weaker or less powerful. It's still Android O in its marrow — it's simply the optimal configuration for devices that have low specs. There will simply be a separate category of apps optimized specifically for Android Go — such as YouTube Go — to better suit the Android Go configuration.
By 2018 all Android devices with only 1 GB of RAM or less will automatically run Android Go. What's more, Google plans to release Android Go configurations for every major version of Android moving forward. So when Android eventually comes out with Android P, you can expect an Android Go configuration for that as well.