Why Android Oreo Go edition means better phones for everyone

Angus Kidman 6 December 2017

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It runs 15% faster and apps take up far less room. Yes, please!

Back in August, Android announced that version 8 of its smartphone operating system would be called Oreo, continuing a long and slightly pointless tradition of naming Android releases after alphabetically-sequenced desserts. Oreo has since gradually started appearing on phones like the Pixel 2 XL, but this week has seen an interesting development: an officially sanctioned fork of Oreo, known as Android Oreo (Go edition), which is designed to run on phones with more basic hardware.

In this context, basic hardware means one with between 512MB and 1GB of memory. To make those phones work better, Android itself is optimised. Google Play has also been tweaked so it will recommend apps that work better on Oreo Go devices. Google claims that apps will run up to 15% faster and that its preinstalled apps take up 50% less space.

In Google's official Oreo Go announcement blog, Android's director of product management Sagar Kamdar says that a key aim of the platform is to ensure that smartphones can be accessed in developing markets like India. But even in first-world countries like Australia, there's a healthy appetite for more affordable Android phones.

I noted last month that much of Samsung's success as Australia's biggest Android phone brand came not from its high-priced Galaxy S and Note series but from more affordable, sub-$500 handsets. Those phones have decent cameras, solid design and all the features anyone who is not addicted to routine upgrades could want. Having them run Oreo Go, with faster apps and less wasted space, would make them even more appealing.

How quickly we'll see those devices in Australia is an open question. Android remains hostage to pushing out updates through carriers, and they don't always put much emphasis on cheaper phones, so it's more likely we'll see Oreo Go on new prepaid phones rather than the existing flock. There's always the option of a grey import, but when Oreo Go will make a real difference is if we start seeing supermarkets selling phones using it.

However, even if that doesn't happen, we should see some benefits from Oreo Go. When the next version of Android appears (its name will start with a P – Android Profiterole, anyone?), we can hope that it picks up some of the code optimisations from the Go edition. No matter how expensive your phone, better code is always welcome.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears regularly on finder.com.au.

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