You need to know how Android Oreo Go Edition is different from Android One

Google’s Android is no longer just the one version you see installed on the Google Pixel, the LG V30, the Galaxy S9, and hundreds of other phones. There are now three different primary versions, the latest being Android Oreo Go Edition. It’s a version of the operating system this time designed for basic, cheap phones. You may be thinking, “Isn’t that the same as Android One?”

Despite initial outward appearances, it’s not. We’ve talked to Google to get the complete story on what Android Go is, how it has changed Android One, and the main differences between the two. It’s important if you’re weighing up which version to have on your next phone.

The basics

Google describes Android Oreo Go Edition as, “A new experience for smartphones with 1GB of RAM or less,” and is fine tuned for devices with specific hardware configurations. Google envisages most of these devices costing less than $100. It still comes with the Google Play Store installed, but it pushes apps designed for Go, or those that operate best on it, to the forefront. You can still install all regular Android apps though, so there are no restrictions in place.

There’s a suite of Go Edition apps installed, including special versions of Google Maps, Google Assistant, Google Search, Gmail, and YouTube. The Files Go app helps organize internal storage, which is a key to optimizing Android Go’s performance and usability. The Go Edition apps, along with Android Go itself, take up less space on the phone. Most Android Go Edition phones will have 8GB of internal space, yet even with the entire operating system and pre-installed apps onboard, the models we saw still had more than 5GB of space available. Android Go also has a data manager to control network usage, comes with Google Play Protect to stay secure, and the promise of software updates in the future.

Isn’t that Android One?

No, Android One is different. We spoke to Google’s Global Marketing Lead for Android Go, Merrill Anovick, to find out how.

“Android One is our partner program,” he said, which means Google chooses who it collaborates with, and has more influence over what goes on the device.

Plus, there are specific requirements partners must meet to release an Android One phone. Remember, these phones have the Android One logo on them, tying them more closely to the company and brand, making Google very protective. These requirements include committing to regular security and version updates, and adhering to pre-loaded app rules, thus limiting the amount of apps that can be installed by carriers or manufacturers.

Android Oreo Go
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Android Go allows for more flexibility from partners to customize Go Edition devices, unlike Android One. Android Go phones do not have any Google-related branding on the body. While there is still a limit to the amount of apps that can be pre-loaded on Go phones, it’s mostly restricted by the device’s storage requirements. Google wants phones to have available space out of the box, and has spent time creating Go to take up less space. However, you can expect more pre-installed apps on a Go Edition phone than you’ll find on Android One.

Additionally, any company or carrier can use Android Go, and decide where phones go on sale. Google’s letting the manufacturers decide where Go phones are needed, rather than suggest markets where they should launch, as it did initially with Android One. This means they will be available in many markets, including the U.S. Because Android One phones now come in at a higher price point, we’ll see these more in traditional markets, where Google expects it to gain momentum in the future. We’re seeing this already, with HMD Global adopting Android One for its latest Nokia phones.

How about software updates? Google says it plans to offer ‘Go edition’ versions of future Android releases. Android One will receive version updates for two years, and security updates for three years. The way they’re delivered is also different. Updates to Android Go will be provided by the manufacturers, like regular Android phones, so they decide schedule and rollout. Android One’s faster and more comprehensive updates are part of the Android One agreement manufacturers make with Google.

Android One is more representative of how Google wants Android treated, but it is not so restrictive with Android Go.

What’s the advantage of Go?

While Android One looks to have most of the advantages, Android Go Edition phones do have a distinct benefit. It gives manufactures the chance to release a cheap phone with the latest version of the software, rather than making do with an aging version, as a large percentage do now. That means the most up-to-date security and software out of the box, and provided updates do arrive in a relatively swift fashion, less fragmentation in a section of the market that’s affected worst.

Google has six Android Go Edition phones on display at Mobile World Congress, made by Nokia, Alcatel, General Mobile, ZTE, Lava, and Micromax. More devices from other manufactures are spread around the show’s halls, and even now Google is unsure of the total amount of devices launching — showing the level of adoption so early on in the program.

The good news is Android Go Edition won’t be limited to certain markets, and the ZTE Tempo Go will be sold in the U.S. We expect more to follow in the future.


Google Assistant for Android and iOS wants to tell you a story

Just in time for National Tell a Story Day on April 27, Google has added the ability for Google Assistant for iOS and Android to read you a story. So now there's no excuse for not catching up with a good book.
Health & Fitness

Google’s redesigned Fit activity tracker is now an iOS app

Google Fit has landed for iOS. The activity tracker offers the same clean design that arrived with the major revamp of the Android version a year ago, with features such as Move Minutes and Heart Points also included.

On a budget? We found the best affordable smartphones you can buy

Here are the best affordable phones for anyone working with a tight budget, whether you're a fan of stock Android or marathon battery life. Find out what you can get for under $500 or far, far less as we round up the best budget…

These parental control apps will help keep your kids' device habits in check

Looking for extra security and monitoring on mobile devices? Take a look at the best parental control apps for limiting time and keeping watch on your child's phone usage and behavior. We have the top options for Android and iOS here.

Need a minute to yourself? Buy some alone time with the best tablets for kids

Looking to keep those tiny fingers and brains busy? Tablets aren’t just for grown-ups, and many are kid-friendly! Here's our list of the best tablets for kids, with parental controls and plenty of tempting features to satisfy your…

Bigger isn’t always better: 5 of the smallest smartphones worth buying

Phones are getting larger and larger, but what options exist for the small-of-hand, or people who just want a phone they can use one-handed? In a world of phablets, some of the smallest smartphones can still pack a punch.

Before buying a Fitbit, check out these Garmin fitness trackers under $100

The Apple Watch is a great fitness tracker, but it's not cheap. Thankfully, there are plenty of fitness trackers under $100, and they offer many of the same features. Here are the best fitness trackers under $100.

Waze vs. Google Maps: Which map app should you be using?

Waze and Google Maps are two of the most popular apps for those looking for turn-by-turn navigation, yet there are some notable differences to point out. Here, we examine both to decide which offers the best feature set.

Stunning photo shows Honor 20 will get the full Moschino designer treatment

Honor will launch the Honor 20 on May 21, at an event taking place in London. A special Moschino version will also be revealed, potentially with a Lite version, and perhaps even another model also showing up on the day.

Leak says Huawei will supply 5G equipment to the U.K., but with a caveat

A leak from the U.K.'s National Security Council says Huawei has been approved to supply certain 5G infrastructure equipment, but not the core components related to secure aspects of the network.

Smash your carrier shackles with the best unlocked phones

If you want the freedom to switch carriers at will or you prefer to get your phone directly from the company that makes it, you'll want to buy an unlocked smartphone. These are the best unlocked phones you can buy in the U.S.

Here's how much it will cost to buy the Galaxy S10 5G, and when it releases

Samsung announced a whopping four new Galaxy S10 devices, from the low-cost S10e to the triple-camera S10 and S10 Plus. But it's the Galaxy S10 5G that steals the show, as it will be the first 5G-ready smartphone to hit the market.

Verizon reveals 20 new cities that will get its 5G network in 2019

Verizon is in the midst of a massive 5G rollout. In addition to fixed 5G service, it has also begun deploying mobile 5G. Here's everything you need to know about Verizon's 5G network, including when it will be in your town.

Bothering the bots: Funny questions and commands to pose to Google Assistant

Communicating with Google Assistant can be a chore. Luckily, there are plenty of fun questions and commands to add a little entertainment to your oft-rigid conversation. Here are some of our favorites.