back to article New Google rules mandate Android 'Poundland' Edition, Go, for sub-2GB RAM phones once Android 11 is out

Google will reportedly make Android Go the default for low-RAM devices once the 11th major version of the mobile OS is released. A copy of Google's "Android 11 Go Edition Device Configuration Guide" obtained by XDADevelopers shows that all new Android 11 devices with less than 2GB of RAM must use Android Go. Android Go is a …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh wonderful news!

    The Android ecosystem is about to get even more fractured than it is already!

    It'll be like when you tried to run a game in the early 90s and your nearly new PC said no.

    1. Timto

      Re: Oh wonderful news!

      I think it's needed.

      I previously owned a cheap android phone that didn't have enough RAM or flash memory for the version of android installed. It was an atrocious experience. I replaced it very quickly.

      1. DS999

        Re: Oh wonderful news!

        How is this going to stop them? If today they are installing Android on a phone with only 1 GB and it runs like crap, and tomorrow they have to install Android Go on that phone they'll say "hey we can ship it with only 512 MB now and save 30 cents" and they'll still sell a phone that runs like crap.

        Those phones are sold as phones, not smartphones.

    2. HildyJ Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Oh wonderful news!

      You obviously have never tried to run a 2020 game on an old PC. Or a PS4/Xbox One game on a PS3/Xbox 360.

      1. katrinab Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Oh wonderful news!

        How old is 'old'?

        My Skylake i5 manages about 50-60 fps on modern games at 1080p high. Obviously by no means the fastest gaming computer out there, but very playable.

        1. Timto

          Re: Oh wonderful news!

          Sandybridge i5 2500k here :)

  2. IGnatius T Foobar ! Bronze badge

    Can I have it on a big phone?

    Can I have the anorexic version of Android on a big phone, so it actually runs fast for more than the first six months I own it?

    1. Blackjack Silver badge

      Re: Can I have it on a big phone?

      If you are willing to hack it? Yes.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can I have it on a big phone?

      I've got Android Go on my Nokia 1. Given that I very rarely use any mobile data, I'm probably not the type of user either the phone or that version of Android is aimed at, but it works OK for me. I've had it somewhere between 1.5 and 2 years, it seems to get software updates every couple of months or so, and it got automatically upgraded to Android 10 (Go) last weekend).

      The one problem I have is the control over where apps are installed and where their data goes is abysmal. Without proper control over this, I can see that anyone who wants to install a lot of apps would be better off with a different phone with more built in storage and/or a different version of Android, assuming that fine grained control of storage hasn't been gutted from "real" Android.

      1. Andy Nugent

        Re: Can I have it on a big phone?

        By default apps aren't installable on external storage unless they specify it (https://developer.android.com/guide/topics/data/install-location), and I think lots of apps don't bother as even the fastest SD card is still considerably slower than the built in storage on the phones, and they don't want their software to look bad. Not sure if rooting your phone allows you to ignore that, but don't think it's an Android Go specific thing.

        1. Blackjack Silver badge

          Re: Can I have it on a big phone?

          Depends on the method.

          But my comment about hacking was to enable the flag in Android that makes it run in Go mode. Unless that has changed in recent versions and Go is a complete different version that needs a separate install.

    3. HildyJ Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Can I have it on a big phone?

      You have to root your phone and sideload it to get the full version.

      However Google does offer Go apps that run on full Android like Google Go which is a Go version of search (and is not the same as Android Go).

  3. alain williams Silver badge

    Does Go come without the non-removable facebook app ?

    If so it would be worth going for, as long as it lets me tether my laptop.

    1. HildyJ Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Does Go come without the non-removable facebook app ?

      Google phones (Nexus and Pixel) have never had a non removable Facebook app. If it's not a Google phone it's up to the OEM.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Does Go come without the non-removable facebook app ?

      Short answer: Probably not.

      Long answer: It's up to the manufacturer, but Facebook has made a Go version, these are usually low-cost devices, and one way that manufacturers make extra money, especially with low-cost hardware, is to dump preinstalled crap on. So I'd expect most Go devices available in countries with high rates of Facebook infestation will have a preinstalled version.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Does Go come without the non-removable facebook app ?

        In those countries, Facebook can literally be inescapable, as they even infest the feature phones there.

    3. Blackjack Silver badge

      Re: Does Go come without the non-removable facebook app ?

      There are ways to remove that without rooting the phone but it nay be installed again after an update.

  4. Screwed

    This appears a very odd way of putting it:

    "It contains changes to multitasking to take advantage of the limited amount of RAM that can be drawn upon."

    Less is more? Or just that it does what it can to work despite low memory availability?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      It presumably disables multitasking entirely and simply suspends everything that isn't currently active. Bound to affect background processing as well.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Background processing works (mail fetches, and I'm listening to streaming radio) but it's quite aggressive about stopping non-foreground apps that are "sleeping".

        [the low end tablet I'm writing this on is running Go]

  5. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    I doubt 3 GB RAM will appear, am I naive? An odd number device capacity that isn't 1 looks like the work of a cheapskate. And it probably is, but will it sell? Cheapskates try to avoid making cheap products that don't sell.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Depends largely what it's in the channel – these phones are being assembled from existing components – but there definitely were phones with 3GB RAM.

    2. mark l 2 Silver badge

      I have a Nokia 5.1 which as 3 GB of RAM so it can be done.

      I am saddened by the fact that 2GB of RAM is now considered 'low end'. If developers weren't releasing such bloated code the majority of people could get buy with a phone with this amount of RAM.

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        If developers weren't releasing such bloated code

        But if they remove the code that exfiltrates your personal data, the advertising SDK, the in-app purchases and the cryptocurrency mining, how are they going to feed their habitchildren?

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Software always expands to fill the available memory and in general, this is a good thing™.

          But modern mobile phone OSes also require more memory because of the high degree of abstraction and containerisation. Rapid development cycles also favour kitchen sink software frameworks.

          1. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Software always expands to fill the available memory and in general, this is a good thing™

            Why?

            Memory that isn't being hogged by bloated apps is available for other things - code for other apps (avoiding paging if multitasking), storage caches (speeding up file access) even - shock, horror - user data. Maybe not so vital on a mobile phone, but editing large images, video etc. is much easier if the whole thing is in RAM rather than bits of it being on disc.

            M.

            1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

              You're describing exactly why it's generally a good thing.

              1. doublelayer Silver badge

                No, they didn't. The claim is that apps expanding to fit the available memory is good. The reply states why having free memory is good. If the apps expanded to fill the memory, then there is no free memory, and the benefits listed there are lost. If a system can run in a gigabyte but has two, you have a gigabyte for caching. If it can't run in one and needs two, then you have less or zero for caching.

      2. toejam

        Universal constants in life: everyone will die, teenagers will be annoying, and code will always become bloated.

      3. Martin an gof Silver badge

        I have a Nokia 5.1 which as 3 GB of RAM so it can be done.

        And there's a Moto G5S here with 3GB too. Certainly a step up from 2GB. Two years old and already needs a new battery (random rebooting when "heavy" apps are launched). Seems to be a bit of a complicated task though...

        M.

  6. doublelayer Silver badge

    Options

    Google: We are going to force manufacturers to do something. Something that would improve Android as an ecosystem, you know? It's time to show the power wielded by the holder of those GMS rights. What should we make them do?

    Engineer 1: Well, how about security updates?

    Google: Security updates? If they want those installed, they'll join Android One. We already have that.

    Engineer 1: Well, that's only used by a couple companies, and that's only three years, and the ones who aren't on that program sometimes drop after six months. We could extend those requirements or...

    Google: Stop questioning us. You're fired.

    Engineer 1: [Is ejected.]

    Engineer 2: I was thinking we could limit preinstalled applications that aren't hardware related.

    Google: Excuse me?

    Engineer 2: Wait. I just mean we can let users uninstall or disable

    Google: Have you not heard about Google Play Services? We make money from that.

    Engineer 2: [ejected]

    Engineer 3: Well we could make manufacturers keep our UI

    Engineer 3: [ejected]

    Engineer 4: Stop them releasing Android 7 in 2020?

    Engineer 4: [ejected]

    Engineer 5: More reporting on use of permissions for the security conscious

    Engineer 5: [ejected painfully]

    [...]

    Google: Why do I have to make all these decisions? Shouldn't we have engineers to do this? Well, how about we make them use Go edition more? That would work.

    Engineering manager: It might not be a selling point for all manufacturers. Sure it runs faster, but there are some things it can't do which could make consumers think

    Engineering manager: [ejected]

    1. Psmo Silver badge

      Re: Options

      Reminds me of a Monty Python skit.

      Next year: Prepare for Android Splunge!

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