Google’s Android Oreo Go edition is all about focusing and optimising performance for entry-level smartphones, but that should not be taken to mean that it will include stock Android UI as well. Google’s Vice-President for Product Management Sameer Samat explained to indianexpress.com in an interaction on sidelines of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2018 in Barcelona.
MWC also saw HMD Global announce Nokia 1, which is an Android Oreo Go edition phone along with Nokia 6 Android One edition. Samat explained some key differences on the two programs and said that going forward the idea was to have a Go edition for every version of Android.
“On Android Oreo Go edition, one of the things we set out to do is to make sure we got the operating system and all Google apps to a place where 1GB and below RAM devices can have a good experience. We have changed some key things. One is speed and performance, the other is storage. Finally, the overall quality of the apps that are on Android Go, which are truly meant for the next one billion users,” Samat said on the rationale behind Android Oreo Go edition.
Android Oreo Go edition phones come with Go version of Google’s apps like YouTube Go, Google Assistant Go, Google Search Go, etc. However, users will still have the option of downloading and installing the regular Google apps on these Go Edition smartphones.
“We have Google apps using less memory, less storage space and with features built for the next billion users towards whom these devices are aimed at,” he said. Samat also pointed out that one major misconception was Android Oreo Go devices would not have the full Play Store, which is not true. While the Play Store on such phones will highlight apps which occupy less storage, users can download all apps on their phones.
“We have all the same apps and APIs. It just makes sense to highlight the apps that will perform well on the device. We are just making sure that users do not have to work too hard to find things that work best on their devices,” explained Google’s VP of Product Management. The Play Store will also highlight the storage space that the app will be requiring.
However, Android Oreo Go edition does not mean that users will always get Stock Android UI, which is still a must for Android One phones. Android One is different program from Google and comes with the promise of regular software and security updates. “OEMs and partners will be free to make modifications to Android Oreo Go phones. We will have some performance requirements, but if they (OEMS) want to make changes to the UI, that’s fine,” Samat Said.
He also pointed out that Google will not market these phones as Android Go phones as such, and instead sees them more as Android Oreo Go Edition. “Every Android build going forward will have a Go edition. This is needed as part of our long-term commitment to entry-level devices. Going forward every device with 1GB or less RAM, which is on Android Oreo will be a Go edition. It is something that we feel will work best for the consumer,” he explained.
It also appears that unlike Android One, which has strict and regular updates as part of the requirement, Android Oreo Go phones might not experience the same thing. According to Samat, he does not expect the Android Oreo Go phones’ update rate to be better or worse than it is for regular Android phones.
“Unlike Android One, where the OEM commits to regular updates, there is no such requirement for rest of Android Go,” he said. The focus according to Google is optimising the performance of their OS on budget, entry-level phones in the market. Updates on Android phones is still a problem, and one that exists across segments, be it budget or premium phones. With Android Oreo Go edition phones, this is unlikely to change.
However, Google says it does not view these entry-level Go edition phones as less capable devices. “They (Android Go phones) are full capably smartphones,” Samat said. He also clarified that with these Go edition phones, Google is not specifying any hardware requirements to the OEMs like it did when Android One was first launched in 2014 in India. “Focus is on software rather than specifying the hardware. That’s why you will see a range of devices with different kind of specifications launching in the Android Go program. They will have the same OS, Google apps with all the services,” he added.
Disclaimer: The author was in Barcelona attending MWC 2018 at the invite of Samsung India.