Google previously came up with a hardware solution in the form of Android One to capture its “next billion.” The $100 phone came with the best possible specs for that price point, but it failed to make a mark. Now the company has a new plan to reach the “next billion,” but this time it’s more on the software side.

Google, Android Go, Android O
EugenioOrtega / Pixabay

How Google made Android Go special

Android Go was an unexpected surprise for fans who were waiting for more details on Android O. It did, however, assure them that it is working on making the user experience better at the low end. Android Go is the lightweight version of the upcoming Android O with optimized apps and the Play Store, notes TechCrunch. It has been made specifically for smartphones with 1GB or less in RAM, so it will be more useful in emerging markets.

Google’s new Android version is meant to be optimized to run smoothly on entry-level devices, so apps like Chrome, Gboard and YouTube Go are being redesigned to use less memory, storage space, and mobile data. For instance, the Data Saver feature will be turned on by default in Chrome, and the YouTube Go app will come with a preview function, giving the user an idea of how much data will be used while watching a video. The app will also allow users to save videos for viewing later. Other Google apps will also come with similar features, and mobile carriers will help too by allowing the user to keep track of data, calls and texts.

“Android Go is designed with features relevant for people who have limited data connectivity and speak multiple languages,” Google says.

It also comes with a version of Play Store that, in addition to offering the entire catalog of apps, also suggests apps designed specifically for entry-level users. Android O devices with 1GB or less in memory will ship with these three features possibly starting next year, notes NDTV.

To come along with Android O

According to the U.S. firm, Go will ship “as an experience” in 2018, suggesting that smartphone makers will start making Go-based handsets after that. Users will not have to worry about downloading Android Go, as it will automatically roll out to Android devices with less than 1GB of RAM when Android O comes out.

Presently, most budget phones come with at least 2GB of RAM, but Google’s new software will likely bring the Android experience to even cheaper devices than before. According to the company, Android is already available on about 2 billion monthly active devices, and by making it more compatible with lower-end handsets, it can easily reach the “next billion users.” Google has not yet revealed any hardware partner.

It remains to be seen if Google will succeed in its second attempt to woo the masses with a smartphone carrying lower specifications but with the standard Android experience. One trend that can surely go Google’s way is that most users enjoy streaming videos on their devices, so they prefer phones with larger screen, even if it is low on specs.