Google debuts lightweight Android Oreo OS for low-powered phones

5 Dec 2017

Android figurines. Image: Google

The new build of Android Oreo will be used in devices with limited memory, storage and connectivity specifications.

In May of 2017, Google announced its plans for Android Go, a build of the Android Oreo OS that is designed to run better on phones with less than 1MB of RAM. Most flagship mobile handsets have considerably more RAM, with the iPhone X at 3GB and the Pixel 2 at 4GB.

The new variant of the Oreo OS is called Android Oreo (Go edition) and it will be launching tomorrow (6 December) as part of the general release of Android 8.1.

Sagar Kamdar, director of product management at Android, told ZDNet that the launch would ensure billions more people around the world could get access to computing.

Three main components went into the development of this new OS variant: the OS itself will have data management and security benefits built in, a new set of Google apps created to be lighter will be coming online for the first time, and a special version of the Google Play Store will be included to highlight the apps that work best on the user’s device.

Faster runtimes for apps

The average app is 15pc faster on devices running Android Oreo Go edition, according to Google. The smaller size of the applications will ease the frustrations of users who have entry-level devices with minimal storage capacity.

For example, Google Go has a stripped-down interface and features search-as-you-type functionality and bilingual searches, while YouTube Go lets you download videos to view offline. The Google Play Store will also facilitate the availability of third-party ‘light’ apps such as Facebook Lite and Twitter Lite.

Data-saver features will also be running by default on Android Oreo Go edition, and Google Play Protect will also be on each device to keep data and apps safe. The new apps will be available on the Google Play Store in the coming months, once a finished Android Go hardware product comes onto the market.

There are few companies that currently exist in a better position to improve access to smartphone technology than Google, and this new initiative will see the world grow even more digitally connected.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects