Despite the relative lack of fanfare, Android Go is an interesting app that deserves some attention, even if you don’t own a low-end phone. At first glance, it’s got a lot going for it, although it remains to be seen if users will embrace it and make full use of its capabilities.
The first major noteworthy difference between Go and the standard Android OS is the fact that it doesn’t take up nearly as much space. Counting the OS itself and the Android default apps, the entire package requires just over 3GB, which is a significant space savings. This makes a real difference on low-end phones, which typically have no more than 8GB of storage to begin with. As the Google Blog points out, “With a smaller amount of storage and processing power, these phones are less expensive for manufacturers to produce and can be sold ataffordable prices, in some cases less than $50.”
Second, it comes with an app called “File Go” that offers users suggestions on files that can be moved to the cloud or safely removed altogether. Another app known as “Datally” makes tools available to manage how much data other apps on the phone are using, especially helpful for people who have limited data plans. A streamlined Google Go is available for web searches as well as a lite Gmail Go app.
Third, there’s a special “YouTube Go” version of the standard YouTube app that gives users three different video streaming options: basic, standard, and high quality. This comes with information about how much data each of the three options will eat up.
In addition to those changes, Google has added a special section to its Play Store, highlighting apps that don’t require a lot of space. For example, there is Google Assistant Go, which allows users to set alarms, send texts, open apps, ask questions, and a ton of other functions, but is limited to the full Google Assistant so it cannot set reminders and control smart home gadgets and other functions reserved with the full version.
Android Go is aimed specifically at users in developing nations, as this is where the highest concentration of low-end smartphones can be found. As to how successful the new OS will be, only time will tell, but early indications are encouraging.