Google unveils Android 8.1 Oreo “Go Edition,” built for emerging markets

Android Oreo in itself is a fine operating system, polished and ready for you to use. However, not all markets can afford devices that are expensive. In a lot of emerging markets such as India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, a cell phone is their first point of access to the internet in their lives, ever. The budget that they have is also limited, with a lot of people buying devices priced under $80.

Android Oreo Go Edition marks Google’s attempt to build Android centered around the “next billion users,” who will use a cellular device as their first point of access towards the internet. Naturally, a lot of Google apps that are built center themselves around the US cellular market. However, with Android Go, Google has worked with teams stationed in India to tailor an experience best suited for new users with low powered devices.

Tl;Dr: “Go” is the lite version of everything. YouTube Go, Google Go, Android Go.

Operating at the bare essentials

According to Google, Android Oreo devices with 512MB to 1GB of memory will come with the all the Go optimizations that their team has designed. This Android Oreo Go Edition experience is made up of three key components:

  • Operating System: A person in an emerging market might not need a lot of the features that are built into Android. Google has made certain performance and storage improvements to the OS with data management features and security benefits built-in. This means that there will be a data saver inbuilt and a file manager app that helps the user clean up cached files. This, in essence, reflects the popularity of (to my extreme dismay) RAM booster and Cleaner apps on the Play Store in emerging markets.
  • Google Apps: Anyone who has used Google Apps know how power hungry they are: I have seen the Google app stutter on a lot of cheap devices that I have tried out. The Play Store regularly struggles and drops a few frames even on high-end devices. A new set of Google “Go” apps, designed to be lighter and relevant to the unique needs of people who are coming online for the first time were designed by the Google team.
  • Google Play Store: The Google Play Store “Go” Edition will promote all the “Go” apps that are built by developers. It will also be lightweight and will reflect items that may be more desirable in emerging markets.

Google claims that speed and storage are the two primary bottlenecks in this segment, and claim that they have worked on both these. They say that the “Go” apps are up to 15% faster, and consume up to 50% less space on your device.

A curated Play Store page for Go

App Showcase: Files Go

Google has always been shy of including a file manager into the AOSP, and this has been fine so far because of all the excellent alternative file managers that are out there. However, a lot of them got bought out by Chinese companies or turned into advertising machines that mine your data. Starting from Android 6.0, a file manager was introduced in the settings app under “storage” tab.

However, Files Go is built around an entirely different set of features that users might want.

Google Files Go

As you can see, the primary feature set of the File manager is to do these things such as helping you clean up storage, browse your device images, and send files offline to nearby devices.

Our take

This will take the sub-$100 smartphone market from laggy, unusable headache-inducers to actually usable devices (albeit with less functionality).

While this is just “kinda useful” for western markets, for the developing world this is game-changing.

Source: Google