It’s no secret that Android runs less than optimally on low-end hardware, and Google is attempting to tackle that problem with a new platform called Android Go. Go is a trimmed down version of Android built upon three keys ideas: OS, apps, and Play Store.
Starting with Android O, Google is optimizing Android to run smoothly on devices with as little as 512 MB to 1 GB RAM. In fact, moving forward every device running Android O or newer with 1 GB RAM or less will default to Go automatically.
Along with being hardware-conscious, Android Go also takes mobile data into consideration and integrates data management directly into the notification settings panel. There’s an open API for carriers to integrate their own services into the settings, allowing users to top up their data plans directly from within the system UI.
Google is also redesigning many of its own apps to use less memory, storage space, and mobile data, including Chrome, Gboard, and a new version of YouTube called YouTube Go. YouTube Go allows for scrubbing through select frames to preview videos and selecting video quality before streaming. You can also download videos while connected to Wi-fi, and even share saved videos with others using YouTube Go to conserve data.
Gboard highlights Google’s focus on making Go ideal for users who speak multiple languages. With the new version, words can be spelled phonetically and Gboard will automatically convert it to the target language’s script. If you’re unsure of how to say a phrase at all, Google Translate is built directly into Gboard, demonstrated at Google I/O 2017 by translating English to Hindi.
The Google Play Store also has a new version designed for Android Go, highlighting apps specifically developed for Go or meeting its data- and power-conscious requirements. There’s already a handful of apps available, including Facebook Lite, Skype Lite, and Line Camera. Google also brought attention to its Building for Billions program to aid in further resource-aware app development.
Android Go will begin shipping in 2018.