What Is Android Go?

Does your new smartphone run on this OS?

Android Go is a stripped-down, lightweight version of Google's Android operating system optimized to run smoothly on entry-level smartphones.

With over 87 percent of the entire smartphone market now running Android, Android Go is Google's attempt at universalizing the mobile operating system as it strives to reach more customers across the world.

Android Go was first teased at the Google I/O Conference in May 2017, with the very first devices featuring the software revealed to the market in February 2018.

What Is Android Go?

Originally based on Android 8.0 Oreo, Android Go is Google's answer to smartphones on the lower end of the market spectrum, ones that sacrifice hardware for the sake of affordability. Optimized to run effortlessly on devices with minimum processing power, Android Go is an optimized version of the operating system that takes up half the storage space and runs optimally on devices that tout no more than 1 GB of RAM.

For entry-level smartphones with less than 1 GB of memory and 8 GB of storage space, Android Go presents a bloatware-free version of the core operating system, the app store, and select applications to deliver a consistent user experience that focuses on speed over gimmicks.

Which Phones Have It?

In February 2018, the GSMA Mobile World Congress attracted smartphone manufacturers from across the globe, some of which had exciting announcements in store for would-be admirers of Android Go.

The Nokia 1 Go
HMD Global

Alcatel, the Nokia-owned smartphone manufacturer from France, announced its first entry-level device running on the new Android Go, the Alcatel 1X. With a 5.3-inch screen and features like soft touch and facial recognition, the Alcatel 1X is built for accessibility, but not without its fair share of features.

Nokia, on the other hand, announced the Nokia 1, a transitory cell phone meant for people who are considering buying into the smartphone era. With features that border slightly on the higher end of the spectrum, the Nokia 1 runs Android 9.0 Pie (Go Edition). 

These weren't, however, the only Android Go devices announced in MWC 2018. The GM 8 Go and ZTE Tempo Go were also announced, while Huawei and Transsion promised to unveil details on their first Go devices, too.

Why Should You Care?

Part of its initiative to welcome the next one billion customers to the family, Android Go is a measure focused specifically on developing nations that have only just begun to get a hang of this new technology and may not boast as much purchasing power as some of the countries out west.

The idea here is to develop an operating system that runs smoothly while consuming lower resources even on the most basic of smartphones, with features like data saving, better battery life, and toned-down versions of popular apps to keep the user engaged.

If you're someone who has chosen to steer clear of the smartphone hype train so far, now is a good time to jump ship and get started on everything the technology has to offer.