While all eyes are on the full-fat version of Android 9 Pie, the company has quietly revealed the key features of the cut-down Go version in a blog post by Sagar Kamdar, Android’s Director of Product Management.
The name is a bit of a mouthful – Android 9 Pie (Go edition) – but the features aim to make smartphones in emerging markets that bit more enjoyable to use, tackling the “most common pain points for entry-level device owners.”
Chief of these pain points is storage space. The cheap and cheerful Android Go devices tend to have limited space of 16GB or under, so getting the OS down to a manageable size is paramount. With that in mind, Google has managed to reduce the Pie footprint by 500mb compared to the previous Go version of Oreo.
On top of that, Google is boasting of faster boot times for devices, additional security features like verified boot and a handy dashboard for tracking data consumption. The last point is especially important in Android Go’s key markets of Asia, South America and Africa where mobile data remains prohibitively expensive.
Related: Best Android phones
Bringing Android to the rest of the world
Like Twitter and Facebook, Google is acutely aware that it’s approaching saturation for the billion people who live in Europe and North America, and is turning its attention to the six billion who don’t.
Android Go has proved a moderate success in that respect, resulting in the creation of 200 devices in more than 120 countries, according to the company. Google says that more than 100 manufacturers have pledged to release Go devices before the end of the year, so there should be more to come, too.
The main challenge for Android Go is making the apps we rely on in Europe and the US work in very different environments, and it’s in that climate that Google has been beavering away with improvements to its Go-specific apps. YouTube Go, for example, offers free downloads of video to save on data, while Maps Go has seen improvements for turn-by-turn directions for those with unstable connections.
Perhaps most impressively, Google has revealed that Files Go – a peer-to-peer file transfer service – has saved users around 90TB of space since launch.
“With a broader range of options and better performing phones, more people can come online for the first time and have access to essential, helpful information,” Kamdar writes. “We’re excited to keep the momentum going.”
What would Android Go have to add for you to use it? Let us know on Twitter: @TrustedReviews