Google finally launches Android Go, a lighter OS for budget phones

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Google finally launches Android Go, a lighter OS for budget phones

Remember Android Go? In May, Google announced it would be making a scaled-down version of Android to run on entry-level devices with between 1GB and 512MB of RAM. These sorts of low-powered devices have proven key in getting smartphones into developing markets like India and Brazil, and Google was keen to offer a smooth and full-featured experience on those devices. At a Google For India 2017 press conference, the company said it’s finally launching Android Go alongside the updated version of Android Oreo, Android 8.1 Oreo.

Essentially a pared-down version of Android, Android Go focuses on a few specific areas that allows it to run smoothly on low-powered, entry-level smartphones. First off is the massive decrease in operating system (OS) size. As Android has matured and phones’ storage spaces have increased, the amount of space the operating system eats up has grown. Since entry-level phones are less likely to have room to spare, the less space the OS takes, the more people have left for their pictures and videos. Android Go is roughly half the size of Android 7.0 Nougat, saving a good deal of space for media the user really wants.

Google’s companion apps have also been downsized. Each Android Go phone will come with “Go” versions of the usual pre-installed Google apps; Google Maps, YouTube, Google Assistant, and Gmail all have “Go” versions that take up less space, require fewer resources to run, and run faster than their usual versions. The company said most “Go” apps run an average of 15 percent faster than the normal versions.

Google and MediaTek have also announced that they have been working closely to ensure that Android Go is optimized to work perfectly with Mediatek processors, which provide the brains for a large amount of lower-end phones on the marketplace, including models from Oppo, Sony, Xiaomi, and even Samsung. The announcement confirms that the MediaTek’s MT6739, MT6737, and MT6580 processors, among others, are already configured with support packages for Android Go, and this should ensure that users of lower-end Mediatek-powered devices should get the smoothest experience possible on Android Go.

Also included in Android Go is Google’s Data Saver mode from its Chrome browser. Mobile data can cost quite a pretty penny in developing markets, and a megabyte saved is a megabyte earned. This is why Google worked hard to reduce the amount of data used by Android Go, because this mode is turned on by default. The company estimates that Chrome’s Data Saver can save the average user 600MB of data in a year, so it expects this system-wide feature to help even more. You can also share content with other people via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, helping you save even more data.

A new app called Files Go, which is available on the Play Store for all Android phones, also will help clean up space on your phone.

In Android Go, the Google Play Store offers a streamlined experience, showcasing Go-optimized apps that won’t impact storage space or run slowly, and phones are also protected with Google’s Play Protect, which is now a standard security feature in all Android Oreo devices.

Android Go is now available for manufacturers, alongside the new version of Android 8.1 Oreo, and it will be shipped on various entry-level devices within the coming months.

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