Google Isn’t Letting Go of Emerging Markets, Launches Android Go

Google I/O 2017

Google I/O 2017

Google, which took its first try at designing an Android phone from the hardware and software standpoints (aka the Google Pixel, with the help of HTC, of course), has been consistent in launching Android-based solutions aimed at extending its reach to a wider consumer base.

Remember the Nexus program? Before it was put to rest in 2016, Google used the Nexus brand to encourage the adoption of Android OS through partnerships with OEMs such as LG, Asus and Huawei (Nexus 6P and 5X were manufactured by Huawei and LG, respectively), among other hardware manufactures. It never focused on emerging markets per se; in fact, sales were done through the Google Play Store. Nonetheless, its popularity was legendary, especially to users in the West thanks to an affordable pricing model for Nexuses that included the latest hardware specs, coupled with guaranteed OS updates.

In 2014, Google announced Android One. Ideally, the search engine giant laid down regulations for OEMs to make entry-level smartphones targeting emerging markets. Of course, the company promised consistent OS updates for a buttery experience on Android One devices. We had a chance to interact with one of such devices, the Infinix Hot 2 that we reviewed here. Similar to the Nexus program, Google seems to have walked away the program.

The spirited Internet company has announced Android Go at Google I/O 2017, which is basically a re-brand for Android One if you look at its description keenly. Android Go’s strategy is to tune Android OS to run on cheaper hardware.

However, Go differentiates itself from One based on optimizations that will done on the operating system and applications for hardware with less than a gig of RAM (Android One outed stock Android on cheaper hardware, period). In addition, Android Go devices will ship with a different version of Play Store that will highlight apps that should run optimally on low-end hardware. One of such apps is YouTube Go that has been optimized to work just fine on low bandwidth and memory.

Also, Google will release tools for developers, as well as instructions on writing apps that will run best on Android Go. Moreover, it will commit itself by releasing a Go version for every major Android version. Evidently, the company has the determination to penetrate emerging markets with dirt cheap phones, and we hope the program will be active for an extended period before another solution is launched.

Devices with Android Go will ship in 2018.


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