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Google announces Android One, a low-cost smartphone program

by Mark Tyson on 26 June 2014, 10:00

Tags: Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qacf2z

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Google has announced a new smartphone platform dubbed Android One. This is an effort to help its OEM partners build low-cost phones. Yesterday was the first day of its Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco. The Android One hardware and software reference platform is said to address the mobile computing desires of users in emerging markets and will unify feature sets which are tailored-made for the market the phones are launching in.

Google will be kicking-off the program in India, with confirmed partners including Micromax, Karbonn and Spice. The aim is to create smartphones which are high quality yet affordable in partnership with networks, that will be supplied with reasonable data plans. All partners are said to be launching an initial range of sub-$100 Android One smartphones starting this autumn and Google is looking to extend the program to other countries too.

Attempting to reach the billions of people who don't have access to a smartphone, the Android One phones will be running stock Android and receive automatic updates. Individual OEMs will also be able to add their own apps on top of that, whist Google ensures that there is a minimum set of standards for Android smartphones. Google's Sundar Pichai gave an example at the keynote event by showing off a Micromax Android One smartphone, which features what he regards as vital features for emerging markets including; a 4.5-inch display, dual-SIM support, a microSD card slot and FM radio.

You can check out the announcement in the video below.

1 billion 30-Day Active Users

Google also boasted about passing the milestone of over 1 billion active Android users. The results were very timely for the headline announcement, having been measured during the past 30 days.

Collectively, these active devices are checked about 100 billion times every day, and 93 million selfies are taken each day using Android devices. Google also demonstrated that it has a strong lead in the global tablet market, it currently holds 62 per cent of the tablet usage share.

The numbers may be jaw dropping, but it also means that Google has a very alluring user base for developers to work for.

Android L

Google also discussed 'Android L' which is an early look at the next platform release, as a developer preview. This upcoming OS boasts a new UI design dubbed 'material' which will come to Google platforms across the web and devices. There's a new runtime called the Android Ready Runtime (ART). Also the company has worked on enhanced notifications and energy efficiency. The Android L developer preview will become available later today.



HEXUS Forums :: 11 Comments

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Google's Sundar Pichai gave an example at the keynote event by showing off a Micromax Android One smartphone, which features what he regards as vital features for emerging markets including; a 4.5-inch display, dual-SIM support, a microSD card slot and FM radio.
This being the same Google who was - until recently - desperately telling us that uSD slots were a bad idea, and then “broke” the uSD support for a lot of 3rd party apps in KitKat? Hypocrites! :(
There's a new runtime called the Android Ready Runtime (ART).
Haven't they just “productionized” the ART that they released in KitKat last year? I seem to remember that, at the time, we were told that ART would eventually replace Dalvik. And last time I checked there were still a few apps that break with ART. Current phone is limited to JB (thanks a bunch Samsung!) so I don't know whether anything I use is on the “ART incompatible” list.
Re: micro-SD support

I think they have to recognize the need for more on-board storage to be useful in places where a mobile connection could be patchy at best. Still, it does leave open the stupidity of their high-end/flagship devices deliberately lacking some of the functionality that is considered core in their low-cost/entry-level devices.
Indeed it does seem that micro-sd support is coming back again as people do actually want it!
Tpyo
…. it does leave open the stupidity of their high-end/flagship devices deliberately lacking some of the functionality that is considered core in their low-cost/entry-level devices.

I guess the whole point there, though, is that in a high end device you can happily slap 16GB or 32GB of storage in without worrying about adding to the cost. In a < $100 device, that margin becomes a lot tighter. A quick google shows that uSD card readers cost less than £1, while 16GB flash drives cost upwards of £4 - that's a big difference in margin when your entire phone costs < £60 at retail…
scaryjim
I guess the whole point there, though, is that in a high end device you can happily slap 16GB or 32GB of storage in without worrying about adding to the cost. In a < $100 device, that margin becomes a lot tighter. A quick google shows that uSD card readers cost less than £1, while 16GB flash drives cost upwards of £4 - that's a big difference in margin when your entire phone costs < £60 at retail…
I know what you're getting at here, and for the low-end devices I agree. Unfortunately if true for the high end stuff then - to quote Shakespeare - there's something rotten in the state of Denmark.

I just bought a high-end 16GB smartphone, cost just under £500. I then had to spend another £50 for a 64GB uSD card (Sandisk Extreme Plus) because the 32GB storage model of that phone isn't sold in this country. So taking a simple minded approach, surely I should be able to get an 64/80GB model of that phone for about £550? As much as it pains me to say this - at least Apple are selling their big-storage models of iPhone here - even though these are at prices that would make most consider that purchase VERY carefully.

I know there's folks saying that you don't need that amount of storage, and that's probably true to an extent. My issue though is that a typical “16GB” smartphone only has about 10GB of storage available and that with the coming of 4K video-capable phones, that storage is going to be under a lot of pressure. And yes, I appreciate Google's “defence” that (a) removing the uSD makes phones cheaper and easier to program for and (b) that this is what their cloud services are for. I really object to (b) because it's not valid in these days of niggardly data allowances, cloud will be fine when we're all promenading around with 100% 4G coverage with all-you-can-eat data plans. Until that time I want my effin' uSD so I can have a decent selection of apps, music and take photos and videos without being scared witless about running out of space.

Apologies for the rant…