One of the reasons we found Android so useful was the open nature of it. It had no restrictions. It didn’t matter what version you used. The operating system was agnostic as to the devices you used. This had a great effect on the way people used it. Obviously, this is no longer the case.
Now we have Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple all trying to buy the tech that powers your phone, and that is essentially Android.
The operating system has become a commodity, with a great deal of influence over the smartphone market. People still want to buy the latest and greatest devices, so there are still a lot of devices and OEMs that are running Android. However, at the same time, Google is investing quite a bit of resources into smart phone customizations to gain an edge over these companies.
Recently, Google debuted its new Pixel 3 phones, which it has also tailored to better run on certain apps. It’s also releasing a version of Android that can be installed on low-cost phones. It might seem a bit odd for Google to want to get involved in the low-cost market, but its investment could pay off in the long run.
The low-cost market is a key piece of the smartphone strategy. It is where smartphone sales make the most money. This segment allows OEMs such as Oppo and Xiaomi to grow and provide better products at a lower cost. If they hit the prices right, then they can offer features at a low enough price point that the more budget-conscious might be willing to buy the device.
It seems like this is also why Google is so focused on the low-cost phone. Android, once open, is now steadily changing to more in line with the software and business models of Google. Google recently installed a new version of Android 9 Pie called Pie, which is for some of the Android phone companies. However, even though this piece of the Android Pie is being made available for OEMs, it can’t be used by actual users.
Google announced at its annual developers conference that it’s putting the same set of features in Pie for the budget smartphones. The most important of them all is wireless charging. So, unlike the expensive Pixels, the budget Pixel phones will work with the Qi standard of wireless charging.
There are some other features coming to the Pixel phones, such as an updated depth camera sensor which is necessary for 360-degree-video photography. Another feature coming is that the Pixel phones can take selfies using a single 12MP lens to capture multiple photos, so that you can make an edited version to use with your favorite image editing apps.
However, some of these features also differ from the Pixel phones. It’s an interesting move for Google, especially if you think about how the company has been refining its two main operating systems, Chrome OS and Android. Chrome OS has become better at acting like the operating system of a computer, while Android keeps changing in its interface to play more of a role in personal computing.
If Google can evolve Android, it will allow it to be more of a Google-centric operating system. In return, it’s going to get users to keep using its services through Android, and this in turn will generate a revenue stream for Google.
Google revealed that it’s also releasing a software development kit (SDK) which will allow developers to use the latest version of Android (9 Pie) for phones and wearables. In case you’re wondering, this is going to be released for both the premium and budget phones.
Google is releasing a version of Android 9 Pie for the low-cost smartphone with the Pixel phones, plus the first ever Google-made smart glasses. This move might not immediately result in sales, but it could become increasingly valuable over time.