Android One launches in India: Why Google's latest project is a big deal

Today, Google kicked off Android One in India during its launch in New Delhi. Here's everything we got from the event.


Android is the world's most popular mobile operating system, and its open source nature means customisations from carriers and OEMs are prevalent. But with Android One, Google wants to seize some of the control back and has taken a different approach with its operating system. Never before has it exerted control on how OEMs use its free software on their products. Today, Google kicked off Android One in India during its launch in New Delhi. Here's everything we got from the event.

 

The Android One programme lets Google dictate what kind of hardware manufacturers use in their devices so that they can give a quality Android experience even with minimum hardware requirements. Google will also allow them Play Store access so they don't need to pile them with additional skins and specific apps - users can download local apps directly from the Play store if they need to. With Android One, this becomes easier thanks to carrier billing.

 

Google has prepared a set of minimum hardware requirements which include a 4.5-inch display with a resolution of 845 x 480 pixels, dual-SIM support and FM radio. The cherry on the cake is stock  Android 4.4 on all devices. Current devices will be powered by quad core Mediatek processors, 1GB of RAM and 4GB storage which can be expanded up to 32GB through micro SD card slots. Qualcomm has just been announced as the new hardware partner so you can expect future devices to run on improved Qualcomm chipsets. However, these might cost more than MediaTek-powered phones. Also, in order to encourage people to use internet on their phones, Vodafone, Airtel and Reliance Communications have special data plans bundled with Android One phones.

So how are consumers to benefit from the Android One programme? Simple. If you need a cheapest possible stock Android device with decent hardware, these smartphones are for you. Google has announced that Android One smartphones start at Rs 6,399 and includes support for seven local languages including Hindi. They are also assured two-year software support and Android L update.

 

Three smartphones Micromax Canvas A1, Karbonn Sparkle V and Spice Dream Uno were launched today. These are currently available only online, though the online exclusivity will be only for a limited period and you can start buying them from physical stores next month onwards. The smartphones will go on sale starting 3.30pm today.

 

Android One handsets won't be limited to just these three manufacturers. Google has announced Acer, Alcatel, ASUS, HTC, Intex, Lava, Lenovo, Panasonic and Xolo will also be launching smartphones under the Android One programme.

 

After India, Google plans to expand Android One to Indonesia, Philippines and other South Asian countries by the end of 2014 and in more countries in 2015.


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