While announcing Android Go during the opening keynote of the I/O developers conference in 2017, Google had said it is a program that aims to improve the budget smartphone ecosystem. Now, the technology giant has stated that the first set of smartphones running Android Oreo (Go edition) will be unveiled at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2018. It also said that the handsets will be priced less than $50. Additionally, Google is also expected to provide a major push to its augmented reality efforts on Android by unleashing ARCore at the event.
Google, in a blog post on Thursday, detailed the announcements we can expect at MWC that will officially begin in Barcelona on Monday. While major OEMs like Samsung and Nokia are expected to unveil their new smartphones on Sunday, Google will also showcase its latest products during the trade show. Senior Vice President of Google's Platforms & Ecosystems, Hiroshi Lockheimer revealed a few products, such as Google Assistant and Lens. Google separately also announced its new partnership for its RCS messaging platform. However, the highlight of the event could be the unveiling of the first Android Go handsets.
Android Oreo (Go edition) or Android Go is a trimmed down version of Android 8.1 Oreo aimed at low-cost smartphones. It works even with smartphones that have only 512MB of RAM and has access to a slew of apps designed for low-bandwidth. It comes will apps like Google Go, Google Maps Go, Gmail Go, YouTube Go, Google Assistant Go, and Files Go.
Nokia licencee HMD Global is rumoured to be launching a Nokia 1Android Go smartphone at MWC 2018. Meanwhile, in India, Reliance Jio and Micromax have announced they would launch Android Go smartphones.
Google has also stated that some new Android One smartphone will also be introduced next week. It said, with the latest Android One handsets, you can expect to see faster access to Android OS updates for two years, including the latest AI innovations, regular security updates for three years and inbuilt Google Play Protect, more streamlined interface, and more.
To recall, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, in 2014, had launched the Android One platform as a project aimed to provide a quality stock Android experience. In India, Xiaomi had launched the Mi A1 Android One smartphone last year.
Google also announced that consumers and businesses can now connect directly via its Rich Communication Services (RCS) platform. RCS is essentially a new standard for carrier-based messaging that would replace SMS and MMS with group chats, by bringing high-resolution photo sharing, and more to all Android users. The company says 43 carriers and device manufacturers are already on the platform now.
The search giant specifically noted that business messaging is one of the key features of the new service. With business-to-consumer messages, enterprises can send verified rich messages such as airline tickets, credit card alerts, and more. Apart from partnering with telecom companies for RCS, Google has also brought smartphone OEMs on board, including HMD Global, Micromax, Motorola, and more. Google wants to continue bringing RCS messaging to more businesses in more regions. If enough carriers and device manufacturers get on board, we may see SMS dethroned as the de facto messaging service in the not-too-distant future.
As per Google, some other announcements coming up at MWC will be around Google Assistant, and visual analysis app Lens. Meanwhile, reports say Google will finally make its big AR play by unveiling its ARCore framework.
Google had shut down its Project Tango computer vision platform last year saying that it will continue the augmented reality journey with its ARCore technology. Now, as per a report in Variety, the company is planning on pushing hard for AR in Barcelona, by releasing the v1.0 of ARCore on the Play Store. It is hoping to make it available on 100 million Android handsets by March 2018.