Google to reportedly make Android Go mandatory for devices with less than 2GB RAM

Google originally announced Android Go – a modified version of Android specifically aimed at lower-end devices that have 1GB RAM or less. The company has since updated the OS along with its major Android versions, with the latest being the Android 10 (Go Edition) from last year that brought a few performance improvements over its predecessor based on Android 9 Pie.

While devices with as low as 512MB to 1GB RAM could run Android Go, the company did not force manufacturers to preload those devices with the modified OS. However, the company quietly updated the verbiage on the Android Go website to suggest that the OS is built for smartphones “with less than 2 GB of RAM”. Now, folks over XDA Developers have gotten their hands on a copy of the ‘Android 11 Go edition Device Configuration Guide’ which reveals that the search giant is mandating the use of Go Edition for devices that ship with less than 2GB RAM. The document is dated April 24, 2020.

The document states that starting in Q4 2020, all the new “products” launching with Android 11 or Android 10 that sports less than 2GB RAM must be launched as a Go Edition device. Additionally, devices that ship with 512MB RAM will not be eligible for upgrading to Android 11, as those devices will not qualify for Google Mobile Services (GMS).

Here is the excerpt from the document for the requirements:

  • 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 an 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 an 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

The changes could have likely been made to improve the experience of users that opt for lower-end devices. Additionally, it could also be due to improvements in Android that warrant at least 1GB RAM. However, it will be interesting to see when the company announces these changes officially and how it changes the landscape of ultra-low end devices.

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