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5 Reasons Why Android Go Is The Most Important Thing Announced At Google I/O 2017 For Africa

The last few days were really busy for me so I only got round to watching the full recording of Google I/O 2017 keynote which happened a few days ago. As always, everything that Google announced was mind boggling and you can really see the future of computing coming to life. Indeed, the emphasis on Artificial Intelligence or AI and machine learning seemed be at the very core of everything that Google is working on. The fact that there are now over 2 billion monthly active Android devices globally implies that Google is leading the smartphone mobile market by massive margin in terms of total users.

However, as always, I like to contextualize how the next and greatest technologies of the world are relevant to the African continent and more specifically Kenya where I live. For me, the most exciting announcement from Google I/O 2017 revolved around Android Go – a new Android variant for low-cost and underpowered mobile devices that are commonplace in emerging markets. Android Go will become widely available with the launch of Android O which is the next iteration of Android, currently in beta.

Below are the 5 things that made the Android Go announcement so significant for me in terms of how millions of consumers in Africa will benefit from the Android user experience on entry-level mobile devices:

  1. Memory Requirements – The memory required on a mobile device to run the fully fledged high end Android operating system is extreme. In most cases, the modern smartphone these days is coming with between 2GB to 4GB of memory and all sorts of other hardware-based enhancements to create a rich user experience, with all the bells and whistles. What is amazing about Android Go is that it will run on mobile devices with as little as 512MB of RAM. This is massive since it means that users can effectively do more, with much less. However, its inevitable that there will be compromises made but this means that a low-cost mobile device can still run the latest version of Android.
  2. Data Management – Android Go has been designed from the ground up to manage the cost and efficiency of mobile data. Google has created an API in Android Go that will be able to interact directly with a mobile networks billings system so that mobile subscribers will have real-time access to their mobile data bundle balances. This means that users will be always aware of how much data they have left and how they are consuming data. In addition, by default, Android Go will make use of the Chrome browser data management feature so that content is compressed prior to being delivered to mobile devices on Google’s cloud. This feature is so handy that currently over 750TB is being saved everyday on Android devices globally.
  3. Offline States – In terms of offline states for Android Go, YouTube Go is a version of the YouTube mobile app that has been optimized to run on Android Go. It has features like a data-optimized tool for previewing videos before they are downloaded, as well as feature for downloading videos for offline viewing when off network. This is especially handy for users in markets like Kenya where free high speed WIFI is available at work or restaurants but is not available at home or on the commute, for free. In addition, since Internet access can be spotty and slow when you leave the urbanized parts of the country, this means you can have content to watch offline when you are off the network. To make matters even more interesting, YouTube Go will allow users to share videos between mobile devices wirelessly without using their data bundles!
  4. Energy Management – Android Go has been designed to be efficient in terms of how it uses battery power on inexpensive and entry-level Android mobile devices. This means that mobile app developers have to create Android Go compatible mobile apps that take full advantage of its energy management features, including ensuring that their mobile app APK files have a footprint of less than 10MB. In a nutshell, from this perspective, it means that Android Go users will be able to make their devices last longer between charges owing to these optimizations.
  5. Multilingual Capabilities – Android Go has been designed so that you can communicate in different languages. So, for instance, in real-time, you could type in English and this would be translated in a text to the language that the recipient is fluent in. It is also possible to ‘write’ in a language you may not be able to type in so that the phonetic expression is captured in the translated text of the language you want to communicate it. This feature is super handy in scenarios where language barriers are a problem but one can still communicate thanks to Google’s AI and machine learning chops!

So, in a nutshell, these are 5 things that I thought make Android Go a really big deal for the Android user experience going forward for the next billions who will connect to the Internet in markets like Kenya and Africa.

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