Google had announced a modified and lightweight version of the Android operating system in 2017. The ‘Android Go Edition’ was built for smartphones and devices with a low amount of RAM. Although Google had never mandated the use of the ‘Android Lite’ version, the situation might change soon.
Moving ahead, Google is reportedly making it compulsory for OEM and smartphone makers to use Android Go Edition on smartphones and devices with less than 2GB of RAM. Google had already deployed several lightweight versions of its popular services and platforms. However, it is not clear if Google would mandate the use of these services or push for web apps for smartphones running on Google Android Go Lite Edition.
Leaked ‘Android 11 Go Edition Device Configuration Guide’ Indicates Several Restrictions For Poorly Equipped Affordable Android Smartphones:
According to a leaked copy of Google’s “Android 11 Go edition Device Configuration Guide”, Google plans to make Android Go Edition mandatory for newly launched devices with 2GB of RAM or less. The guide appears to be dated April 24, 2020, and includes the following rules and restrictions to smartphones and devices with low RAM and low-power hardware:
- Beginning with Android 11, devices with 512MB RAM (including upgrades) are not qualified for preloading GMS.
- All new PRODUCTS launching with Android 11, if they have 2GB RAM or less, MUST return true for ActivityManager.isLowRamDevice() API, and launch as an Android Go device.
- Starting in Q4 2020, all new PRODUCTS launching with Android 10, if they have 2GB RAM or less, MUST return true for ActivityManager.isLowRamDevice() API, and launch as an Android Go device.
- Previously launched 2GB RAM devices in standard GMS configuration SHOULD NOT convert to Android Go configuration via MRs or letter upgrades. They will remain standard Android
— Kathenas (@kathenasorg) July 21, 2020
What the rules essentially mean is that starting later this year, any new device with Android 10 as the OS that features 2GB or less of RAM must use Android Go Edition as the operating system. Additionally, any device launching with Android 11 that has 2GB or less of RAM must also use Android Go. OEMs and some smaller Android smartphone manufacturers might attempt to launch some new devices running on Android 10 with a low amount of RAM. However, the restriction could be in place for all devices running Android 11 and above in the future.
Google’s Android Go Lite Edition was launched in 2017. It was originally intended for devices with less than 1GB of RAM. However, Google never mandated the use of Android Go. In other words, the lightweight version of Android OS was an option. Nonetheless, Android Go was still a workable platform as Google had released lightweight “Go Edition” versions of many of its popular services.
Android Go Jio edition https://t.co/nlAsGEz929
— Varun Krishnan (@varunkrish) July 15, 2020
It is important to note the threshold was amended to include devices with 2GB RAM. Google might have revised the requirement late last year, but the company updated its website with this information very recently. Incidentally, the inclusion of 2GB RAM devices brings the 64-bit kernel/user-space into the Go Edition ecosystem.
Google Ending The Availability Of Low-Powered Android Smartphones With Less Than 2GB RAM?
Manufacturers have been packing more amount of RAM even in their entry-level or affordable range of Android smartphones. In recent times, 3GB RAM appears to be the bare minimum that smartphone makers include in their products. Hence the majority of the Android devices could be exempt from these new rules from Google about the mandated use of Android Go.
However, the abovementioned requirements should make a pretty big change in how low-end Android devices are manufactured, sold, and bought. Non-availability of Android 11 GMS (Google Mobile Services) support for the ultra-low end 512MB devices directly means these devices will be basically useless as mobile phones and would be phased out quickly.
While manufacturers could continue offering 3GB or more RAM in their affordable or budget Android smartphones, the Android Go Lite Edition could be an appealing option. The lightweight OS being installed on 1GB and 2GB RAM devices means better performance overall, despite being restricted in hardware.
Hence smartphone makers might just revert to making smartphones with 1GB or 2GB RAM and deploy Android Go as the primary OS. These would invariably sport a very attractive price and be sold in emerging markets. It is, however, important to note that Google hasn’t corroborated the information, and the alleged guide might be revised or even entirely discarded in the future.