Android Go is slow, but that’s not the point

Android Go is slow, but that's not the point

Android Go is simple and that IS the point

ONE OF the biggest talking points at MWC this year (apart from 5G, of course) has been the launch of Android Go, Google’s trimmed down operating system designed to run on low-powered phones (below 1GB of RAM).

But should we care? It’s a great solution for developing markets, but is there enough performance to make a budget Android handset a viable alternative?

The short answer is no, but with a serious caveat – the average INQ reader was never meant to be the target market. Let’s face it, you’ve got your eyes on the Nokia 8110 reboot, haven’t you?

But as a first phone, or a spare phone, or a phone for Granny, there’s a lot to be said for these entry-level phones – and as we’ve mentioned before, Android Go could be a huge opportunity to bring old phones that can’t run the full OS back from the cupboard via custom ROMs.

Nokia, ZTE and Alcatel are among the (unsurprising) first companies to launch handsets running the operating system.

A side effect of slipstreaming Oreo is that it takes up a lot less room, meaning storage is less of an issue. Google clearly realises that its target market isn’t interested in its cloud offerings.

To that end the Files Go app, one of the suite of low resource apps created for the platform is proving useful for regular Oreo too, given that it helps clear junk files, duplicates and all the other things that Google has been ignoring because, you know, cloud – you shouldn’t care.

Third-party apps have been stripped down too with the likes of Linked In, Facebook and Skype all offering low-resource versions as part of the launch.

There’s just one problem in our brief hands-on with some of the handsets – the latency is shocking – we counted a good 5 Mississippi’s before some apps opened.

For phones starting at 50 quid, it’s hard to really argue, but we can imagine that it would get a bit (OK, a lot) frustrating, pretty ruddy quickly.

And that’s sort of the takeaway. Android Oreo (Go Edition) to give it its full title, feels like a five or six year old handset. Think Eclair or Froyo – back when they were the zenith. Except it’s now, and expect more.

Of course, Google Assistant and ‘the Google App’ didn’t exist back then and as a new way of accessing those features, Android Go is going to be a huge game-changer, bringing voice control to millions more people.

But if you’ve been thinking “Android has become too bloated, I’d love a simpler version”, prepare yourself for a shock, sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got till its done.

We’re not here to dis or dismiss – Android Go is not for us, but that’s pretty much the entire point.

“Let’s reach the next billion,” says the company. At these prices, there’s a good chance it will. In many developing countries, Nokia is still king, so a cheap Nokia smartphone could see Google’s ecosystem enter a lot more lives. Whether you see that as a good thing or not is subjective. µ  

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