If you have been searching for a budget smartphone to buy in Kenya, you may have seen some manufacturers saying their smartphones are powered by Android Oreo (Go Edition). What does this mean and should you care about it? Some devices such as the Nokia 1, Nokia 2.1, Tecno Spark 2 are referred to as Android Go smartphones that you can get in Kenya. So, what does Android Go means and should you care about it? I will try and answer these two questions in this post.
I will also use the words Android Oreo (Go Edition) and Android Go to mean the same thing so don’t let that confuse you.
Brief Introduction: Android
If you know even the tiny bit about smartphones, then you know that they have an operating system underneath. Android is the widely used mobile operating system in the world at the moment and you have probably interacted with it at some point in your life.
Android is developed by Google. The company licenses the core Android source code to smartphone manufacturers and that is how we end up with different smartphones from different manufacturers running Android. This is a very brief explanation as it would end up being a very long post if I chose to explain how everything works in regards to Android licensing.
Enter Android Go
Android Go is a tweaked version of Android that is meant to run on entry level devices, mostly with between 512MB and 1GB of RAM. I do review a good number of phones each year and my experience with most smartphones under Ksh 10,000 is not usually the best. They tend to be slow and overall software performance is nothing to write home about. This is exactly what Google hopes to address with Android Go.
When Google first introduced Android Go, the company said that its main aim was to bring more affordable devices to emerging markets. These are the markets where a good number of the population are still using feature phones. This was not an easy thing to do as Google is involved in the software and the hardware is equally important when it comes to pricing.
Android Go is the same version of Android that you would get on any other smartphone running the OS but it is just tweaked to ensure it runs smoothly on budget smartphones. Most people always refer to Android Go as a different version of Android but that is not the case, it is the same one optimized to work perfectly on entry level devices.
Android Go is built to take up little space compared to Android Oreo or any other version. This is important for an entry level devices whose storage space is usually low, as low as 8GB. Since the OS takes very little space, users have more space to install their favourite apps and store what is valuable to them.
Android Go Applications
To lead by example, Google bundles some of its ‘Go Applications’ with Android Go. These applications are lighter versions of its popular apps such as Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube etc. Instead of these, on Android Go you get Gmail Go, Google Maps Go, YouTube Go, Google Assistant Go, Files Go etc. These apps take less space and are designed to work with low-end hardware like the one you will find on an Android Go smartphone.
With Android Go applications, you do get the basic functionality of the app but may miss some of the features of the full-fledged app. Some things such as animations are also excluded so you do get the basic things. This is not that bad if you want a smartphone that is not very powerful.
When you visit the Play Store, there will be a recommended Android Go app for you to download. This helps you save on space as you download the smaller Go application if there is one. At the moment, most of the Go apps you can get are owned by Google but the company hopes developers will start developing versions of their apps targeting those using Android Go. This should be the priority for developers who make apps specifically targeting users in emerging markets.
Data Saving on Android Go
Besides being optimized for devices with low RAM, Android Go comes with data-saving tools that ensure users in emerging markets save on data costs. On Android Go, Google has enabled “data saver” by default to help users keep their data usage in check. If you are data conscious, this feature is very much needed.
Why You Should Care
According to Google, the next billion smartphone users will come from emerging markets such as Kenya. This is why the company wants to ensure these users still have a good experience even if they do not have the money to buy expensive smartphones. If you have had a bad experience with an entry level smartphone, Google hopes with its partnerships with smartphone manufacturers, Android Go will make the experience better. Android Go is not just about better performance but also promises reduced data consumption and more storage space.
If you are interested in knowing some of the Android Go smartphones you can get in Kenya, check out the link below.