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Android ‘Go’ speeds apps up on low-end phones as Google targets emerging markets



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Google is launching the next version of Android for low-end phones.

Angela Lang / CNET

Google released a new version of its Android mobile software on Thursday designed specifically for low-end phones. The aim is to attract users in emerging markets with cheaper devices.

The specific version of the operating system, called the Go EditionIncludes rebuilt versions of Google services – including Gmail, Google Maps, and YouTube – that are lightweight and use less cellular data. Google first started releasing Go versions of Android in 2018. With this year’s offer, apps should be launched 20% faster than with last year’s Go software.

The announcement follows the technology giant’s release earlier this week, the latest version of the company’s popular operating system. Google’s mobile platform supports almost nine out of ten smartphones shipped worldwide.

For Google, reaching out to people in emerging markets is critical to making sure the business can grow. The more people have smartphones, the more often they use them to search for things on Google or to watch a video on YouTube. This means that Google is getting more data to drive its massive, targeted advertising business backed by the personal information of the company’s users.

Android Go’s software pays the most attention to the way a phone uses data, as most Go users are likely to have prepaid plans. A data management screen in the phone’s quick settings shows how much data is left. A special version of the Play Store highlights apps that work better with entry-level phones. For example, an app can be featured because it has a good offline mode.

This year’s version of the software runs on devices with 2 gigabytes of memory or less, an enhancement to last year’s version, which only ran on 1.5 gigabytes of phones. The extra capacity allows apps to run faster, Google said.

This isn’t the first time Google has been targeting emerging markets with its Android phones. In 2014 the company presented an initiative called Android OnePartnered with cell phone manufacturers in India and a handful of other countries to help manufacturers build affordable phones. However, Google took the program further three years later to focus on security updates and include mid- and high-end smartphones.


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