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Google introduces Android Go, a mobile OS for entry-level devices

Updated May 17th, 2017 3:00PM EDT
Google IO 2017

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Apple may dominate the tech news cycle next month when WWDC rolls around, but for now, it’s Google’s chance to shine. Google’s annual I/O developer conference kicked off earlier today and the company has already made a number of interesting announcements, including a new ‘Find my Device’ feature a’la iOS’ ‘Find my iPhone.’ Additionally, Google unveiled a number of intriguing additions to Google Home and Google Assistant, including the fact that Google Assistant is now available for the iPhone. Of course, the star of the show was Android, and in particular Android O, Google’s next-gen OS.

Just a short while ago, Google also unveiled an offshoot of Android O dubbed Android Go, an OS geared towards entry-level devices

“From the beginning, Android’s mission has been to bring the power of computing to everyone,” Google’s Sameer Samat said during the introduction. “In fact, there are now more Android users in India than there are in the U.S.”

As Samat continued, he detailed how Google wanted to come up with a way to get smartphones into the hands of more people, an initiative that would necessarily have to see the entry-level price of devices drop drastically.

“This means hardware that uses less power packed processors and far less memory than on premium devices. ” Samat said, “but the software also has to be tuned for a user’s needs.” Specifically, Samat highlighted that software has to account for limited data connectivity and multi-lingual use.

That said, Google introduced a new OS for entry-level Android devices called Android Go. Android Go, which is essentially a lightweight version of Android O, focuses on three things: optimizing the latest release of Android for basic devices, a rebuilt set of Google apps that use less memory, storage space and mobile data, and last but not least, a streamlined version of the Google Play Store where optimized apps will be positioned front and center.

Android Go will run on devices with 1GB or less of memory. As far as data costs is concerned, Android Go puts data management front and center and allows users to see how much data they have left during a particular billing period. As another example, YouTube Go will allow a new preview experience before devoting data to watching the whole thing. Additionally, users can toggle between the streaming quality they want and even download videos for later viewing.

Eventually, Google says that all Android devices will have an Android O configuration available.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.