Google announces Android Go, a new set of features and apps for low-end devices


At Google I/O 2017, Google announced a new initiative for entry-level Android devices, called Android Go. It's essentially a set of features and apps for Android, which are set to debut with Android O, that are designed to limit both devices' system resources and mobile data, helping people in developing nations have a reasonable mobile experience.

There are three main components to Android Go: the OS itself, Google's own apps, and a focus on optimized third-party apps. Firstly, the upcoming Android O will ship with optimizations for devices with 1 GB or less. These optimizations include limiting RAM usage and adding more options for data management. The latter of the two will be achieved thanks to the newly-added ability to see one's data usage directly from the notification shade. Google also said these data statistics can now be pulled directly from supported carriers, and thus be more reliable than current implementations.

When it comes to apps, Google promised a few of its own services will also get reworked, data-saving app versions. Chrome's Data Saver feature, for example, will be turned on by default in Android Go. Also, a new, data-conscious app, called YouTube Go, will ship with Android Go devices instead of the standard YouTube app. It has a number of data-saving features built in: firstly, it will let users preview a video in a series of screenshots to see whether it's worth watching, while also showing exact information about its data usage in different quality options. Unlike the standard YouTube app, YouTube Go will let users download videos for offline viewing, as well as share them with other people via an offline peer-to-peer connection (think Wi-Fi Direct and/or Bluetooth), so they don't have to use their own data connection.

Lastly, a special, Android Go-exclusive Play Store was also announced, designed specifically to highlight apps built with Google's so-called "Building for Billions" best practices for app developers, or in other words, made to conserve data and device resources, such as Facebook Lite and Skype Lite.

The so-called "Go configuration", which will pack all three of these features, will be available starting with Android O, and will be used on devices with 1 GB RAM or less. Also, Google claims a Go version will be available with all future Android releases, while Go-powered devices will ship starting from 2018.

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