On Wednesday evening, onstage at the Google I/O developer conference, Sundar Pichai the multinational's India-born CEO announced that over 2 billion active devices were now part of the Android ecosystem. The quest to add the next 1 billion users continues for Google and, towards this end, they have announced that they are developing a lightweight version of the Android operating system, called Android Go.
When Pichai was VP of Android, he had pushed the Android One program to develop better low cost smartphones by working with phone makers. After seeing that experiment tank, the current VP Sameer Samant took up a new project to distribute better a Android operating system for lower-end smartphones in countries such as India and Brazil.
At Google I/O, Samant highlighted the fact that India now has more Android users than the US. According to the Economic Times, an industry executive who didn't wish to be identified said that Android Go could come to India as early as around Diwali this year.
The low cost platform and the apps it will come with will be stripped of their heavier components. Apps such as YouTube Go, a lightweight Play Store, and Chrome, along with other other native apps, will be optimised for lower-end hardware. Samant said that Google is targeting devices with a RAM size of 1 GB or lower.
The Play Store will only have the apps that are less than 10 MB in size. Moreover, the app previews will also be lightweight. Google has already introduced YouTube Go in India, which is a lighter version of YouTube, allowing users to save data.
While Google hasn't announced any hardware partners yet, it has said that all the future versions of Android will ship with an Android Go variant.
India has always been a key market for Google and it recently launched tools for translation and transliteration in multiple Indian languages. Also, with a series of initiatives, Google is pushing towards getting a chunk of its next billion users from India.