In the year 2014, Google introduced a lineup of Low-cost, Low-spec phones referred to as Android One. In 2017, they announced Android Go, specifically designed for Low-cost, Low-spec phones. so…what’s the difference?
What precisely is Android One?
To put it as simple as possible, Android One is a hardware spec designed for emerging markets by Google. Low-cost, Low-spec hardware is the very heart of Android One.
But it’s not just simply hardware alone—there’s also a selected set of “policies” in place for Android One’s key ideas. Google wants one things for Android One handsets:
- Unmodified, stock Android: Any manufacturer that wanted to release a handset as part of the Android One program couldn’t modify the operating system with things like custom skins.
- Regular security updates: Any manufacturer building a handset for Android One had to commit to regular security updates.
- Strict hardware requirements: Google essentially specific a maximum hardware spec for Android One handsets, and manufacturers have to go with that.
Essentially, Google wants control with android one—the whole of it, from the hardware to software program updates are set by the company, and manufacturers ought to agree. Think of it as a kind of low-price Pixel or Nexus.
Even as Android One was in the beginning launched with the goal of bringing usable, less expensive mobile devices to third-world nations and different emerging markets, we’ve currently began to see a shift on this concept as One devices become available in other part of the world. For instance, Project Fi has an Android One model of the Moto X4 which is available for purchase within the US, and the Xiaomi MI A1 is available globally.
Okay, So What’s Android Go?
Android Go, then again, is purely defined in the software experience. It’s basically a custom version of Android Oreo designed to run on hardware with as little as half of a gigabyte of RAM, with three key factors that defines what Go is all about:
- A “custom” operating system: It’s still Android Oreo, but it’s somewhat modified for lower-end hardware.
- A specific set of apps built for Go:Google released a slew of “Go” apps for limited hardware, including YouTube Go, Files Go, and more.
- A curated Play Store: The Play Store on Android Go isn’t technically different from the Play Store on other Android devices, but it does highlight apps that will work best on limited hardware—like Facebook Lite, for example.
Considering that android Go is designed for low-spec, low-cost hardware, it also capable of improving data management tools—both for internal storage and mobile data. Android Go is almost half the size of “stock” Android, leaving extra room available on as little as eight gigabytes of internal storage. Further, Go apps have 50 percentage of the size of their full-size counterparts.
So, to put it plainly: Android One is a line of phones—hardware, defined and managed by Google—and Android Go is pure software that can run on any hardware. There aren’t specific hardware requirements on Go like on One, though the former is designed explicitly for lower-end hardware.
If a manufacturer plans on releasing a budget handset, Google really wants them to do so using Android Go as its operating system. That’s what it’s designed for. Go really seems to be picking up the torch that was originally designed for Android One—it seems to be a mobile OS designed for emerging markets and third-world countries.
That said, it’s never explicitly stated that Go is designed for emerging markets (just “low-end devices”), but this seems to be heavily suggested. Most of the Go apps—like YouTube Go and Google Go—are geo-restricted and not available in the US, and while Google itself advertises Android Go as available “around the world,” it’s unclear whether we’ll ever see it become widely available in the US or not.
It’s also unclear whether or not Android One handsets will eventually run Android Go—it really makes sense that they should…but this is Google we’re talking about here. Sometimes “because it makes sense” isn’t a reason to do something, so who knows.