Android Go will give budget handsets a boost


— 11:00 AM on May 18, 2017

If you're on a budget, can't use a lot of mobile data, or just like to keep things simple, a super-powered smartphone like the Galaxy S8 or Google Pixel XL doesn't make a lot of sense. There's an enormous worldwide market of users with limited budgets and limited data access. At its Google I/O conference, the company announced Android Go, a configuration of Android aimed squarely at budget handset markets.

You might remember Android One a couple years ago, a similar effort that focused on low-priced phones. This time around, instead of focusing on the phones themselves, Google is sticking to what it knows best—software. Android Go is a configuration of Android O that's optimized for smartphones with just 512MB to 1GB of RAM and will activate automatically when installed on these devices. The Play Store will also highlight Go-optimized apps, and Google will provide low-spec versions of its own applications, including Chrome, Gboard, and Youtube. The company will also offer developers a set of guidelines for application developers so they can ensure their apps don't take a big chunk out of system resources or mobile data.

Android Go takes several measures to make sure the operating system and apps remain lightweight and has a particular emphasis on controlling mobile data usage. The OS integrates mobile data management directly into the notification settings panel, and Chrome's Data Saver mode is enabled by default. Video is one of the most popular uses for smartphones, and it's also the fastest way to use up your monthly allotment of data. YouTube Go will allow users to manually select video quality and preview specific frames before streaming, or to save videos for later when a Wi-fi connection becomes available. You can even download videos and share them with others using YouTube Go to save data.

Android Go will arrive with the upcoming Android O in the fall. The first budget devices with the new configuration are expected to ship in 2018.

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