Google releases Android Go edition for India’s 400 million internet users
Google has released Android Oreo (Go edition), which is part of the larger Android 8.1 release. The new version of Android is optimized for devices with less than 1GB of memory and markets that have lower bandwidth or unreliable connections.
While the OS update is global, the market specifically being targeted is India. Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweeted that “India now has over 400M internet users” in announcing the release of the Go edition of Oreo:
India now has over 400M internet users: excited for @Android Oreo (Go Edition) & the new Go apps announced today, built for the next billion users in India and beyond. #GoogleForIndia https://t.co/hmS7jUcghX
— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) December 5, 2017
According to Google, the “Go experience” features three components: improved data management, a range of new apps that use less memory and a version of Google Play that promotes apps optimized for lower-end phones.
Among the new lower-data apps is Google Go, a search (and more) tool specifically designed for India:
Google Go has three special features that meet the needs of users who are new to the internet. First, typing on a small device can be slow and cumbersome, and people may not know what to look for online, so Google Go’s tap-first user interface helps them better express themselves, explore new ideas, find things to share and guides them around the web. Second, Google Go is light on storage and data and great on patchy connections. It’s less than 5MB to download, and search results in Google Go are optimized to save up to 40 percent data. Third, it’s very easy to switch and see answers in another language — for example, between Hindi and English.
These entry-level phones that Go edition is optimized for are popular in developing markets.
As others have pointed out, Google “missed the Chinese market” because of its disputes with the government over search censorship. And while the Android operating system is dominant there, it has been forked, in some cases, beyond recognition.
Google sees India and other developing markets as the source of its “next billion users.” Android Go is designed to help the company get there.