There are a plethora of cheap, low-power phones (and some tablets) out there running Android Go, a specialized version of Android tailored to weaker hardware. Its use is not mandatory, though, so there are also plenty of devices that can feel less optimized and might shine a bad light on Android as a whole for those who have never owned another phone with the OS. It looks like Google wants to change that, as a leaked document shows that starting with Android 11, any device with less than 2GB of RAM wishing to ship with Google software must use the easily updatable, low-power Android Go version.
The document in question is the Android 11 Go Device Configuration Guide, leaked on Tillie Kottmann's Telegram channel (better known as @deletescape, the dev of Lawnchair Launcher) and first picked up by XDA Developers. The version we have at hand dates back to April 27, 2020, so some details may have changed in the meantime.
The guide states that starting with Android 11, any new product that launches with 2GB of RAM or less must be an Android Go device. The same requirement is supposed to come to devices released with Android 10 beginning in Q4 2020. This wording makes us think that the requirement is in place both for phones and tablets. However, devices launched earlier don't have to be converted to the Go Edition, and can keep running regular Android.
The other significant bit is that we won't see any devices with 512MB of RAM or less with Google apps going forward — they won't be eligible for Google's GMS certification.
- Beginning with Android 11, devices with 512MB RAM (including upgrades) are not qualified for preloading GMS.
- All new PRODUCTS launching with Android 11, if they have 2GB RAM or less, MUST return true for ActivityManager.isLowRamDevice() API, and launch as a Android Go device.
- Starting in Q4 2020, all new PRODUCTS launching with Android 10, if they have 2GB RAM or less, MUST return true for ActivityManager.isLowRamDevice() API, and launch as a Android Go device.
- Previously launched 2GB RAM devices in standard GMS configuration SHOULD NOT convert to Android Go configuration via MRs or letter upgrades. They will remain standard Android.
Right now and in the past, Android Go has always been a voluntary program for phone makers, so the new requirement marks a significant shift for entry-level devices. Both customers and manufacturers should benefit from the move in the long-term, though. The Android Go OS and the Go Google app suite is specifically tailored to weaker devices, making software run smoother and faster. The platform should also be easier to maintain and update, helping manufacturers meet the required minimum of two years of security updates and (hopefully) faster system updates.
Since this information is merely based on a leaked document, the finalized requirements might still be changed or scrapped altogether. Either way, we'll learn more once Google is ready to publicize this information properly.
- XDA Developers