Where Android One never truly took off, Google has revealed Android Go – a potential game-changer for smartphones in emerging markets.
Android One was a noble idea – convince manufacturers to produce elementary smartphones to run a simplified version of Android. However, much of the roadblock that prevented the initiative taking off was the necessity to convince manufacturers – and where Android One failed, Android Go is here to pick up the slack.
Announced yesterday at Google’s 2017 I/O, Android Go operates not as a gestalt operating system with specific hardware commitments from manufacturers, but rather as a profile within Android O which tailors experiences to match the power of devices with 1GB of RAM or less.
What does this mean? There are several consequences to Google’s initiative – all of them major, and the good news is that for the next billion people to come online, most of them are overwhelmingly positive.
Components that comprise smart devices are expensive – and not all are created equal. Thus, manufacturers either use premium-grade components such as camera modules, RAM, or processors to equip their best phones with market-leading features, while budget handsets are forced to contend with lesser hardware appropriate to the segment of the market they serve.
This forces a conundrum; Android was designed for premium grade smartphones, and the trickle-down effect of bringing expensive hardware to budget or mid-range devices isn’t happening at a pace fast enough to satisfy the demand for a smart device that can connect to the internet. The end result is that consumers generally spend what they can afford to or aspire to buying a premium device.
Android Go upends this process; running as a profile on Android O, device manufacturers do not need to bend their production of any smart device to a specific hardware standard. Android Go functions with minimal support and runs simplified versions of Android apps – for example, YouTube Go – enabling consumers to pick a smart device that appeals to their budget and still benefit from similar features to ‘core’ Android devices.
The end equation balances by enabling manufacturers to produce many more entry-level devices without the need to acquire expensive components, and that consumers can finally acquire an entry-level Android device, connect to the internet, and access many of the same services that those already online enjoy.
Complications? There are a few. Android Go is reliant on an installation of Android O, meaning that it will be some time before consumers around the world can pick up a device running Android 8.0 O at launch. Secondly, there’s the enormous task of bringing connectivity to regions around the world that have not benefitted from internet access as yet.
Still, the promise of Android Go is real, and is far more tangible than the efforts of Android One, which never truly came to fruition. For emerging markets around the world, the promise of an elementary, but powerful Android device can finally become more than an out-of-reach dream.
What are your thoughts? How will Android Go shape access to the internet and smart devices going forward? Be sure to let us know your opinion in the comments below!
Follow Bryan Smith on Twitter: @bryansmithSA