Google has released a version of its most recent Android OS designed to operate on the lower end devices typical to many emerging markets.
Android Oreo Go Edition has been built to run on devices with 512MB to 1GB of RAM, which is significantly less onboard memory than most devices that are now commonly used in developed markets. For example, Google’s Pixel 2 device has 4GB of RAM, Apple’s iPhone X has 3GB, and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 has 8GB.
The low RAM requirements of Android Oreo Go Edition indicate that it could be used on far lower spec devices, allowing the operating system to be adopted by potentially hundreds of millions of new users. This would enable it to gain significant traction in emerging markets where such devices are more widespread.
Sagar Kamdar, Director of Product Management for Android, touched upon this point, saying: “To make sure billions more people can get access to computing, it’s important that entry-level devices are fully functioning smartphones that can browse the web and use apps. At Google I/O this year, we gave an early look at a project we called ‘Android Go’ to make this possible. We’re excited to announce that this software experience – Android Oreo (Go edition) – is ready, and launching as a part of the Android 8.1 release tomorrow.”
The suite of preinstalled apps on Oreo Go includes Google Assistant Go, YouTube Go, Google Maps Go, Gmail Go, Gboard, Google Play, Chrome, and Files Go. The latter is a new app used for data management which frees up available memory by deleting spam, duplicated files and unused apps from the device.
Google claims to have optimised its preinstalled apps so that they take up 50% less space. This is a boon for devices with less onboard RAM, as a full operating system combined with a suite of default apps would take up enough of the device’s memory to leave little room for additional photos and other such files. Users can also prevent individual apps from using data while idle.
Such features may have limited appeal in developed markets where users are accustomed to high-end devices, but will be highly appreciated in emerging markets. Oreo Go is therefore a canny move from Google that could expand Android’s audience – and therefore advertising revenue – immensely. With its profits capping out year-on-year, Google will be keen to drive growth from other regions but doing so will require it to tailor its products to fit the markets, with Oreo Go being a result of this approach.
A market-specific example of localised content it’s a new “two wheeler mode” for Google Maps that the firm has launched in India, which is the world’s largest market for motorcycles and scooters. The mode highlights routes that are available to these vehicles, but inaccessible by cars or larger vehicles. Google has not yet announced plans to expand the feature to other markets.