Google has been working hard with various OEMs manufacturers and hardware vendors to produce an affordable computing platform dubbed Android One running vanilla Android, aimed at the ‘next five billion’ of the world population who do not own a smartphone.
Android One was announced back in at I/O in June along with Android ‘L’, the basic idea was to fill the software and hardware discrepancies in order to deliver a cheap bang for the buck basic low-end Android smartphone capable of running a mostly stock version of Android with automatic software updates coupled with a reasonably long product life cycle of at least 2 years—something previously unseen with any other Android smartphone manufacturer to date.
Google officially kicked off the whole Android One program by initially introducing three $100 smartphones:the Spice Dream UNO, Micromax Canvas A1 and the Karbonn Sparkle V. All of which share the same base spec sheet, i.e. a 4.5-inch (11.4 cm) display topping a FWVGA (480 x 854 px) resolution backed by a fairy mediocre quad core SoC from MediaTek along with 1GB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage (2.3GB usable), all powered by a 1700mAh battery. The good news is that they all come with expandable storage, feature dual micro-SIM slots and decent 1080p-capable 5MP back shooters accompanied by a 2MP front selfie camera. Connectivity features will include 3G, WiFi b/g/n, Bluetooth and FM radio.
Google has also partnered with Indian carrier Airtel to allow users to download Android software updates along with a monthly 200MB worth of Play Store data for free. Android One users will also be able to watch YouTube, Google has also tweaked some its services and apps such as Google Now and Play Newsstand to support cricket scores, railway bookings and 13 local publications. All Android One handsets will come with Android 4.4.4 kitKat out of the box, respective manufactures will be permitted to preload certain specific services and wallpapers but cannot run any custom or UI other than Google’s Now Launcher.
The trio will be available on Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon India. The Dream UNO will be priced at INR6,299 while the Karbonn Sparkle V and Micromax Canvas A1 will cost INR6,399 and INR6,499 respectively.
We expect to see even more high-quality, affordable devices with different screen sizes, colors, hardware configurations and customized software experiences. Finally, we plan to expand the Android One program to Indonesia, the Philippines and South Asia (Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) by the end of the year, with more countries to follow in 2015.
Google plans to extend Android One with the help of manufacturers such as Acer, Alcatel Onetouch, ASUS, HTC, Intex, Lava, Lenovo, Panasonic and Xolo. Qualcomm will also join the party in the near future; that should hopefully make some folks out there happy, especially those who want quality silicon with good documentation, software support and a very capable (and modern) GPU.