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Google Files Go: Who is it made for?

Google's Files Go file manager is now in beta. Is the app the right choice for you? Who exactly is Google targeting with this app?

Published onNovember 15, 2017

Google is known for making well-made apps. Its app portfolio stretches pages upon pages of recognizable apps like YouTube, Google Maps, and Google Photos. But, it recently put up a listing for a brand new app that caught everyone’s attention. It’s a file manager named Files Go and it’s currently in beta. There are a million file managers in the Play Store, so what makes Files Go so different? We spent some time with it to find out. 

Before we dive in, you should know that the app is part of Google’s Android Go initiative. Android Go is the push to get Android onto devices with specs as low as 512 MB of RAM and extremely small amounts of storage. While phones like these may not be attractive in countries like the United States, they are in developing markets. To help keep an eye on storage and usage on these devices, Google came up with Files Go.


When opening up the app for the first time, you’re immediately greeted with a notice that the app is still in beta. Once you move past that and allow it access to your file system, the app begins to take shape.

You’re greeted with a dashboard that displays how much storage you’ve used and how much you have left. This goes for both internal storage and microSD cards. As you scroll down from there, Files Go will give you suggestions how you can clear up some space. Some options include deleting pre-loaded media or temporary files. Additionally, if you have a microSD card inserted into your phone, it’ll give you the option to move pictures and videos from the internal storage to your card.

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Files Go also suggests old apps that you might want to delete. If you’re anything like I am, you download an app that looks interesting as soon as you see it. Whether you go back and use that app is another story. Files Go will alert you to all of the apps you haven’t used in the last 30 days so you can decide if you really need to keep them around or not. This is a no-brainer in terms of clearing out storage. Apps are getting bigger every day and can balloon in size as they continue to get updated.

I’m not quite sure how Google decides what is trash and what isn’t, but it could do some work on its algorithm. Files Go identified two different movie files on my microSD card as trash and prompted me to delete them. I keep several movies on my device for long car trips or flights so I rarely watch them. But, why just two of the movies? Why not any of the others? Why movie files at all? Google offers no explanation here.

I love how easy Google makes it once you’ve decided you want to delete or move something. You tap a button and are taken to a second screen. Once there, you’re able to select all listed files or individual files one by one or to delete. Press delete and they’re gone. It’s that simple. The list of files is laid out well, you can tell exactly what you’re doing, and the process is fast. Kudos to the design team.


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The second window you have to choose from is simply labeled “Files”. As you might expect, this is a little more drilled down with fewer cute graphics and animations to it. You’re given several selections like Audio, Images, and Videos that will take you to all of the files matching those descriptions.

At the bottom of the list is the Documents option that brings up every text files, PDFs, and more. This could be useful for those who do a lot of document downloading and editing on their phones. It extends to your microSD card as you’d expect which opens up the possibility of editing a file on your phone, saving it to the microSD card, moving your card from your phone to your computer and finishing up with a keyboard and mouse. This could be particularly useful, especially for students. 

The final feature in the Files section is a send and receive option. While it may come as second nature for us to upload a file to Google Drive or Dropbox and share the link, there are better ways to accomplish this. The send and receive files buttons allow you to establish a Bluetooth connection with a friend in the area to share files between your phones. This cuts down on data usage and can be especially important for those on tiered data plans.

I think Google absolutely nailed it with the Files section.

I think Google absolutely nailed it with the Files section. Giving users quick options to access all of the downloads, received files, images, videos, audio, or other documents on their phone is no brainer. Again, like in the previous section, everything is well laid out and easy to use. While the app doesn’t find every file you might like or let you dig as deep as you may want, it’s great for most jobs.

The Bluetooth file transfer tool is also excellent. This has been in Android for ages, but rarely gets used because people just don’t know about it. Putting it in the app was a great move and will cut down on data usage.

Files Go overall thoughts

If you’re a power user, Files Go is not for you. But, for what it is, Files Go does a pretty good job. It’s still in beta, and Google acknowledges that up front, but the fundamentals are all there. If you were going to build an app that is designed to help out low storage users stay on top of their devices, this would be a great start. If Android Go was a big enough to get a mention at Google I/O, Google is taking it seriously. I think this app proves that point.

If you’re a power user, Files Go is not for you.

For the majority of users, you’ll be fine using Files Go as your everyday file manager. It’s perfect for going in, grabbing a movie file, and sitting back. If you want to perform more advanced tasks like moving files around, you might want to go for something else, but this is fine for the most basic stuff. In a world where 64 GB of storage seems to be the minimum, that may not sound like a pressing concern, but why waste space when you don’t have to?

Google could do more with Files Go if it wanted, but I don’t think it will. The app does exactly what it sets out to do for the crowd it’s made for.

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