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Google wants developers to make apps Android One friendly

In a new blog post, Google gives advice on how to make apps more friendly towards Android One and other lower-end devices with the goal of reaching the next five billion.
September 16, 2014
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Android One represents a big step forward for Google’s promise to deliver reliable Internet access and services to those who currently can’t afford it. While cheap sub-$150 handsets aren’t exactly hard to come by in most emerging markets, devices with up-to-date software and hardware specs designed to provide a fluid and functional Android experience often are.

Of course, just releasing Android One devices will only take Google half the way towards its goal of reaching new users. To get the rest of the way, Android needs to be the best it can be, even on less-than-high-end hardware. Google can only do so much on its own, however, and with that in mind a new post on the Android developers’ blog encourages app developers to think about how they can make their apps more accessible to “the next five billion”.

One of the biggest things to think about is the mindset of those in markets with often slower Internet speeds. While those in major markets care about fast results more than anything, for these markets with 3G and slower speeds, it’s more about getting results eventually. To better cater to slower connections, Google recommends that apps include an option for users to be notified with results when a search query is running on a slow network.

As Google puts it, “Your app can then take as long as it needs to successfully retrieve the data in the background and show a notification when complete. The difference in user experience between an app that times out on a slower network and one that caters to user-specific needs will be very impactful for driving mobile app adoption.” Google also recommends using the Android emulator to emulate slower network speeds for better testing how apps perform.

Moving beyond optimizing for slower network speeds, Google also touches on the subject of memory optimization and battery life. There’s also mention of keeping APKs as slim as possible, since space is a premium on Android One and other budget-oriented devices like the Moto E and Moto X. If you’re a developer, we recommend checking out the full post for even more details.

If you’re an end user, how does this affect you? Directly, it doesn’t. Indirectly, Google’s push towards making its OS and apps friendlier towards low and mid-range hardware means that just because you can’t afford a high-end device doesn’t mean you have to settle with a subpar Android experience. We’ve already seen a great change from the days of the barely functioning low-end Gingerbread devices to the low-end yet enjoyable experiences found today on handsets like the Moto G, and we suspect this is only the beginning.