2019 marks the second year since Google detailed and eventually rolled out Android Oreo (Go Edition), our very first look at the popular mobile operating system properly optimised for use on low-specced devices.
Looking back, Android Go has come from far.
Last year, Google followed up the Go Edition based on Android 8 with another based on Android 9. That can be found on almost all of the newer Android Go-powered smartphones being unveiled every day.
However, Android 9 Pie is now in the past. For now, and going into the new year, it will be all about Android 10.
While we have heard quite a lot about Android 10, Google had remained mum about the Go edition of the latest version of Android. Until 2 days ago when it finally broke its silence.
The latest software release from Google targeted at the over 1,600 devices from over 500 makers running Go editions of Android includes updates that make it faster, more secure and help deliver better app experiences to users.
Speed and reliability
According to Google, apps in Android 10 (Go Edition) launch up to 10 times faster than they do on Android 9 (Go Edition).
Android 10 (Go Edition) includes a new encryption standard for entry-level smartphones, Adiantum.
“Up until now, not all entry-level smartphones were able to encrypt data without affecting device performance. Adiantum is built to run efficiently without specialized hardware, meaning all Go edition users will have the same level of data security as any Android device, without compromising performance.”
Announced at the start of the year and paraded by Google as “encryption for the next billion users”, we now have a pretty clear picture of Adiantium’s mission.
Better app experiences
Over the past year, we have witnessed an explosion in the number of lite versions of applications making their way to the Google Play Store led by Google’s own.
Gallery Go answered our prayers for a gallery application on devices running Android Go, following in the footsteps of other Go apps from Google like Files Go, the file manager application, YouTube Go, Maps Go, Assistant Go among others. More recently, Spotify has joined the fray with Spotify Lite.
Such applications seek to make the user experience better by not only being optimised to run on the most minimal hardware but also requiring as little data as possible and taking very little space on the devices they’re installed on. Gallery Go, for instance, is only 10 megabytes but keeps a lot of the features that we have come to know and love about Google Photos thanks to on-device machine learning.
Now, with Android 10 (Go Edition), such applications will get even better as developers take advantage of the tools at their disposal to optimise them even further for low-end devices.
In Kenya, leading network operator Safaricom’s Android Go-powered smartphones have been on high demand with over 600,000 units flying off the shelves (physical and virtual) between the start of the year and this month.
Much as this is exciting news for Android Go users, most of them are unlikely to ever get the update if the rollout of the last version of Android is anything to go by.
At the price point of Android Go-powered devices, most device makers prefer to entice users to upgrade to other devices or upgrade their software experience by purchasing newer devices instead of providing software upgrades. This, however, won’t be a problem users of Nokia smartphones face. HMD Global has already committed to upgrading all the Android Go devices under its fold to Android 10 in 2020, a position reaffirmed by the company’s Chief Product Officer yesterday.