When Google announced Android Go during Google I/O 2017, we, like everyone else thought that it was going to be a rebrand of Android One, which we all assumed was dead. The confusion went as far as people thinking that Android Go was a new version of Android.
In an interview with Gadgets 360, Sameer Samat, VP of Product Management for Android and Google Play shed some light on the differences between Android Go and Android One.
“Android Go is not a new version of Android, it’s not a different Android, it’s a project name inside Google,” said Samat as he begun explaining. He went ahead to explain that Android Go is actually Android O but optimised to run on devices with 1GB of RAM or less.
Samat explains that Android has different configurations that are set by the device manufacturer depending on the phone’s specifications. He said that Android Go will be a configuration that OEMs can use. The same way Google did with Svelte, which is a configuration introduced with Android KitKat that allows Android to run faster and smoother on low spec’d devices.
“It’s not something the user decides, it’s something that the OEM decides at the factory and what we are saying is if you are gonna build a device that’s 1GB or less [RAM] then you should build it with the Go OS configuration, so you should use Android O, but you should use these configuration settings,” concluded Samat.
It was also revealed that Android Go will not just take away the user experience by turning off animations to ensure a smooth experience like Svelte did, but Android Go will add certain features that will only be available to devices with this configuration.
Some of the new features include a data management toggle in the quick settings and specific apps that will specifically be made for Android Go devices such as YouTube Go which will show users how much data a video will consume if you watch it.
Samat also said that devices with the Android Go configuration will be able to run any Android app, so there will not be any discrimination. However, these devices will have a section in the Play Store that highlights all the apps that are optimized to run smoothly on Android Go.
The main difference between Android Go and Android One
Samat told Gadgets 360, “Android One was a specific project that focused on three things – first, specifying hardware… the second was any device that has the Android One brand would have the Google UI, unmodified by the partner. And the third piece was a commitment from the device manufacturer to have regular security updates.”
In other words, Google had much more control with Android One. The company dictated the specs that a device should have for it to carry the “Android One” branding. It was literally Nexus for entry-level devices.
With Android Go, Google has no plans to dictate or suggest hardware preferences. Samat said that Google will be focused on ensuring that the Software [Android] can run smoothly on all hardware. Meaning, devices with Android Go configuration might as well run a custom UI skin on top of Android O and still perform as well as Google intends.
Android One might have failed to pick up in Kenya due to people terming it as “too simple” and “lacking a lot of customizations and features”. However, it would be great if prominent OEMs in this market could pick up the Android Go configuration to ensure that their customers have a great experience with Android.
The first devices to ship with Android Go configuration will be available as from 2018.