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Google launches Android Oreo Go edition
December 21, 2017, 5:13 pm
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At Google I/O in May of this year, Google promised a version of Android custom-designed for low-end devices. Last week, Google announced that ‘Android Go (Oreo edition)’ is being made available for device manufacturers and developers, so you can expect phones running this version of Android out soon.

The premise behind Android Go is pretty simple. It is a build of Android Oreo that is designed to run better on phones with either 512MB or 1GB of RAM. By comparison, the Pixel 2 (like most flagships) has 4GB of RAM, while the iPhone X has 3GB and the Galaxy Note 8 has a whopping 6GB.

Making the same operating system work on both flagships and the cheapest of cheap phones is a challenge, but it is one that Google says it has overcome. Phones based on the ‘Oreo Go’ will use the ‘Go’ versions of a handful of Google apps — including the main Google app, Google Assistant, Google Maps, Gmail, and so on. Some of those apps, like YouTube Go, have special features for downloading stuff over Wi-Fi, In other cases, the ‘Go’ versions are radically smaller than their regular variants. The smaller apps and slimmer OS can as much as halve the amount of storage that is taken up by default on a brand new phone.

There are also performance and storage improvements in the Go edition of Oreo, but optimizing an app to take up less storage can also mean it takes a little longer to launch. On phones where storage is at a premium, you optimize for that. On most high-end phones, however, you would rather get those milliseconds back.

Google is also piling on a bunch of other data-saving features turned on out of the box. So in Chrome, everything will get run through a Google server that reduces file sizes before it gets delivered to your phone. There is also the new Datally app for tracking where you data went.

Going forward, the ‘Go edition’ of future Android releases will not be quite so delayed compared to the full ones. For now, though, the Go edition of Oreo is available for manufacturers to start using, which should mean we will see it on new devices soon.

Chances are the first phones to use it will be launched in India — Google notes that it has more users in India than it does in the US now. India has more than 400 million internet users, and Google is increasingly looking to Asia as more and more users from developing markets in that region come online.

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