Android Go will power entry-level devices in emerging markets.

Google hasn't fared well with its attempt to revolutionize the entry-level segment in emerging markets with Android One, and now the company is taking a different approach. At I/O 2017, Google has launched Android Go, a lightweight version of the OS that's optimized for low-cost devices.

Android Go

With Android One, Google worked directly with device partners in finalizing the hardware, while controlling the software updates. Android Go, however, is a purely software undertaking, with Google optimizing the platform to run smoothly on devices with as little as 512MB of RAM.

Currently, you can get a decent phone in India for the equivalent of $100, including at least 2GB of RAM and 16GB storage. Android Go is aimed at devices that cost half as much. The platform will offer heavily-optimized versions of Google apps — including YouTube Go — and Google is rolling out a series of best practices so that developers can optimize their own apps for the platform.

Google is also prioritizing data savings with Android Go. Data Saver mode is baked into the platform, and enabled by default. The quick settings panel has a dashboard that allows you to easily see your data quota, and you'll also be able to purchase data packs directly from the settings. Finally, Gboard will offer multilingual language support for 22 Indian languages.

There are more Android users in India than in the U.S., which isn't surprising given that the subcontinent has a population of over 1.3 billion. Hundreds of millions of people are making their way online for the first time, and Google wants to create a better experience for the next billion customers with Android Go.

There will be an Android Go branch of Android O, which will be available for devices with 1GB of RAM. The first batch of phones running the platform will make their debut next year.