A good explanation of Google’s Android One program


I have to admit that I didn’t know much about Android One until I came to IFA 2018. I had assumed it was some form of software or a set of specifications for phones from mid-range, although a lot of people around me also confused it with Android Go. Android One is neither of those elements. If you’re expecting an Android Go explainer here, sorry. Your best bet is to go and live your life now. This is not the (An) droid you are looking for.

What I a m talk is Android One – a program for making third-party phones that run pure Android software. It was introduced in 2014 to meet “a universal need for cool and secure smartphones, and to bring the Google apps and services they love,” according to Anne Laurenson, director of program partnerships for the EMEA region. Basically Google is working with manufacturers to create a range of devices that meet certain requirements so you know what you’re getting when you buy Android One. It’s not a new version of the OS, it’s more of a franchise. It doesn’t look like the Pixel series either – Google has a lot of say in creating them. Essentially, the Android One program is all about branding.

On the other hand, Android Go is a lightweight operating system that uses less memory and can run smoothly with low-end components. Most Go phones tend to be cheaper and are aimed at people who don’t want or can’t afford flagships.

Android One phones offer a wider range in terms of quality. Of course, until now, these haven’t been high-end high-end devices, but they’re not all $ 100 phones either. Before we go too far, let me explain the Android One program to you.

Cherlynn Low / Engadget

Remember a time when phones sometimes came in a “Play Edition” variant that ran Android? The Android One program is a bit similar to this, except Google is much more involved. He works with phone makers to make sure these Android One products meet certain requirements, are secure, and run a clean and familiar Android interface. Android One is also a long-term, multi-year program instead of single versions of specific models.

Google also has various sets of requirements for phones that want to be Android One branded, although it hasn’t released them. Unlike the Android open source program, which anyone can rely on and rely on, Android One has more stringent criteria. Google also goes back and forth with OEMs to make sure the end One devices perform well.

Laurenson told Engadget that by working with phone makers, Google has learned a lot about what users want. This information helps the company adjust its requirements according to different regions and industry trends, so that Android One devices remain relevant.

“It’s not like we’re a judge,” Laurenson said of the collaboration. “It’s a joint job. The most important thing is that they are also able to keep the promise (of Android One).”

When a company wants to develop an Android One device, it contacts Google, which then provides a set of criteria. Depending on the region or the time, it can be very different. In India, for example, dual-sim is a popular feature, and Google might require it. This year, that could make 5.2 inches the minimum screen size, although if it were five years old it probably would have asked for smaller screens.

Gallery: Convenient LG G7 One | 7 photos

Gallery: Convenient LG G7 One | 7 photos

This is another reason why Google doesn’t release its requirements for Android One – they can change quite frequently. This is also why there is a wider range of Android One phones – they won’t just be replicas of different brands of each other.

Take the LG G7 One, for example. It uses a Snapdragon 835 chipset, has a 6.1-inch QHD + display and a 12-megapixel camera with an f / 1.6 aperture. Of course, it can be reduced compared to the flagship G7 ThinQ, but in the Android One wallet it is quite premium.

The Motorola One and Motorola One Power were also launched here at IFA 2018. The latter is a variant only in India, while the Moto One will launch worldwide, starting in Mexico on September 13. It’ll cost $ 300, and for that money you get Snapdragon 625, a 720p display, and dual cameras in a pretty sleek, albeit iPhone-like, casing.

Gallery: Hands-on presentation of Motorola One | 7 photos

Gallery: Motorola One | 7 photos

There is also the Xiaomi Mi A2, which launched about a month ago. This is a follow-up to last year’s Mi A1, which Google’s Laurenson said was a successful launch between the two companies. The Mi A2 uses a Snapdragon 660 processor, has two cameras and a 6-inch Full HD + display. It even has a 20-megapixel front camera, if you’re in the mood for super crisp selfies. And, unlike the rest of Xiaomi’s phones, these One devices run clean Android, without the MiUI skin that annoys so many people.

At this point, there are 15 Android One devices – well, that have launched in the last couple of years, anyway. These newer versions will all see updates to Android 9 Pie by the end of 2018, according to Google, which is another benefit of the Android One program. You’ll get update cycles similar to Pixel phones and see timely security updates from Google itself. Plus, they contain very little or no bloatware so your phone’s storage is maximized for the apps and data you actually want.

What you ultimately get from the Android One program is an endorsement from Google. It’s a guarantee that One-brand phones are secure, bloatware-free, and have relatively modern specs. When you go out to buy your next phone, you’ll likely see the Android One branding in stores, and that’ll be an indicator that these devices are running up-to-date and clean Android software. New features from the latest versions, like Pie, will also be quickly available on these phones. “This is really Google’s plan to bring AI to everyone,” Laurenson said.

You can also find a surprisingly diverse range of devices in the Android One wallet that would suit almost anyone, except maybe someone who really likes Samsung software, for example. Of course, there aren’t many truly “flagship” Android One phones (just the Nokia 8 Sirocco and the LG G7 for now), but I wouldn’t rule out more sophisticated options in the future. We will see more new devices starting in the fourth quarter of this year.

Cherlynn Low / Engadget

The Android One program was introduced in India in 2014, and Laurenson said it was then redefined on an experimental basis a few years ago in Japan and Turkey. Users apparently enjoyed the pure Android experience in these phones, and Google’s partners wanted to expand the program worldwide. Over the past couple of years, the Android One team has stepped up its efforts, which is why you’ve been hearing a lot more about it lately.

There are now around two billion Android smartphones in the world, covering the offerings of 400 manufacturers. Android One seems like a way to regain some control over quality and cohesion to keep consumers from feeling overwhelmed. It specifically targets Android purists, and Google is totally okay with whether you prefer a Galaxy or OnePlus phone. Those who want great, pure Android phones – and want more options than Pixels – are the ones who will benefit the most from Android One.

Update (at 7:04 p.m. ET on 9/3/2018): clarified that the Android One program was introduced in 2014 in India and then redefined a few years later. Also updated to note that there are some “really” flagship phones like the LG G7 One and the Nokia 8 Sirocco.

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Camera: Kyle Maack
Publisher: Liviu Oprescu

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