Google I/O 2017 made some announcements which could be considered as big deals. Like, new Google home update, the announcement of the new Android O, new phones with project tango support etc. But my favorite would be the Android Go. It may not sound like a mouthful but wait until the end of the post. It is definitely something to be excited about and could pave the way to even greater success for Google.
There are 2 billion Android devices currently in use around the world. Google is now thinking about the next 2 billion devices. In order to do this, Google has a new project called Android Go. It’s a lightweight version of the upcoming version of Android (Android O) with optimized apps and Play Store.
Google focused on devices with very low specs, users with limited connectivity and multilingual capabilities. And it can run on devices with less than 1GB of memory. The Play Store is going to highlight apps that can run on these cheap devices.
These apps should be less than 10MB, work well when you’re not connected to the internet and support devices with slow systems-on-a-chip and little RAM.
Sameer Samat vice president of product management, talked about Chrome’s data saver as an essential feature to load more pages with a minimal amount of cell data. But the company doesn’t plan to stop there.
For instance, YouTube Go is going to be an optimized version of the YouTube app. There’s a new preview feature so that you can have a look at the video before even loading the video.
Once you know for sure that you want to watch this video, you can select the quality of the video even before playing the video so that it doesn’t eat up all your data allowance. And if you’re on Wi-Fi, you can even download the video and watch it later.
This feature was limited to YouTube Red subscribers before. But YouTube Red is only available in the U.S., while Android Go is going to target developing countries. And if you’re watching videos with a friend, you can even share videos between multiple Android Go devices using peer-to-peer transfers.
In the future, all version of Android is going to ship with an Android Go variant. As Android becomes more powerful, Android Go seems like a smart move to make it run on crazy cheap phones and slow networks. Google hasn’t announced hardware partner yet.
With Android Go, Google’s first goal was to make its own software work better with entry-level phones. That meant stuff like reworking apps like and Maps, as well as the Google Play store for downloading apps and entertainment, to be more careful about data usage and spotty internet connections.
So what happened to Android One, that initiative from a couple years ago? It’s sticking around, but now it’s about making sure those entry-level Android phones get regular security updates and a “purer” Android experience, with an app launcher and user interface uncluttered by some of the flourishes handset makers might add. Android One is also focused on the entire market now, instead of just the low end, Samat said.
For Google, reaching that other 5 billion is crucial to making sure its business can grow. The more people who have smartphones, the more they might use them to search for things on Google or watch a YouTube video.There are devices — like the newly announced Moto C — that only have 1GB of RAM and run Android 7.0. What happens if that device, or one like it, gets an Android O update? Will it get the Go experience or not? Samat says Google is currently in discussions with device makers, but nothing has been locked down yet. The issue is that Android Go has multiple parts, like that specially modified suite of Google apps. And therein lies the rub.
But Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has other initiatives still focused on connecting the unconnected. Project Loon, part of X (formerly Google X) is developing balloons that float through the stratosphere, beaming down Wi-Fi at remote regions. Facebook has a similar initiative, though its aircraft of choice is a massive drone called Aquila, with the wingspan of a Boeing 737.
With Android Go, Google is paying most attention to the way a phone uses data because most people on Go will likely be on prepaid plans. A data management screen in the phone’s quick settings will tell you how much data you have left.
A rejiggered version of YouTube aptly called YouTube Go and in beta in India, gives you a preview of a video before you watch — so you can decide if you really want to spend your data on it. You can also choose your viewing quality right from the start. Another feature will let you save a video to your phone so you can watch it later when you don’t have connectivity. You can even share it with a friend through a peer-to-peer transfer, all without using any mobile data.
Android Go will also have a special version of the Play Store that highlights apps that work better with entry-level phones. For example, an app might be featured because it has a good offline mode.
“We took a step back to see what it would take for more users in the world to have a smartphone,” said Samat. “We all have smartphones,” he continued, gesturing at everyone in the room. “So we understand what they’ve meant in terms of our daily lives.