In its never-ending quest to get Android phones in the hands of every person on this earth, Google announced that it’s bringing a few of Android 12’s marquee software features directly to Android 12 (Go edition). This is excellent news for folks using Android Go, as it’s a lower-end version of Android that runs on super cheap smartphones (anything with 2GB of memory or less). Android 12 (Go edition) incorporates features plucked right out of Google’s Pixel phones but seemingly dialed down so that they can run on the most bare-bones of devices.
One of Android 12's flagship features is on-screen translation, which is coming to Android Go. On Go devices, the feature will be available from the recent apps screen, where you can choose to translate an app like a webpage as it becomes available. There will also be a quick access button to “listen” to a block of text and have it read out loud.
Android 12’s Privacy Dashboard is also rolling out to budget Go phones. It offers a fast snapshot of which apps have access to the microphone and camera. The privacy indicator symbol will pop up in the right-hand corner like it does in Android 12 when an app is using your mic or camera.
Android Go is also gaining a privacy feature that lets you offer approximate location permissions instead of your precise location. This feature still uses your location data but doesn’t pinpoint exactly where you’re at and where you’re standing.
Android Go developers are getting access to Android 12's SplashScreen for providing a “consistently smooth experience” when you launch an app. Google says this should help Android Go devices launch up to 30% faster than before and introduce smoother animations. While Android Go isn’t for flagship phones with high refresh rates, a little software tweaking can help produce a similar effect.
Android 12 (Go Edition) features its own exclusive optimizations, too. To help save on battery, the OS lets you place an app into automatic hibernation mode if it’s been sitting in the background for an extended time. This ability should help save on memory capacity, which tends to be already severely limited on a budget smartphone. And the updated Files Go app will let you recover files within 30 days, so you can delete anything taking up space as you need and come back to it after clearing up some room.
For families or siblings who share smartphones, Google made it easier to switch from one person’s account to another with the new Go edition’s guest profiles. They’re now accessible from the lock screen, and you can reset the profile when a person is finished using the device. If you’re managing more than one device, or you’re not online when you return home, Android Go will also let you share apps offline using Nearby Share and Google Play.
Android Go isn’t the most popular platform around, but Google said it recently reached 200 million active users. Manufacturers that make Go phones include brands like Motorola and Realme, and Nokia also makes a variety of Go phones. Its parent company, HMD Global, recently launched the Nokia C30, which has a massive 6,000 mAh battery and ships with a minimum of 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage.
Google launched the new version of Android 12 (Go edition) in late October, but the company said these latest features will roll out as new Android 12 (Go edition) devices become available in 2022.