Android Oreo (Go edition) is Google’s attempt at improving the Android user experience on entry-level smartphones. The Go edition comes with all the fancy features of Android 8 Oreo, along with pared-down versions of the core Google apps.
These lightweight copies of Google apps are lighter and less resource-intensive, which means they should run flawlessly on lower-end smartphones. Google primarily aims this program at users from developing nations, but any performance-conscious Android user around the globe can download and use apps made for the Android Go platform.
Android Go Apps: The Benefits
The entry-level Android smartphones Android Go targets often come with limited RAM and storage space. Thus, Android Go apps are built to run smoothly on devices with as little as 512MB to 1GB of RAM. These apps are also up to 50 percent lighter than their regular versions.
Your high-end Android smartphone can get bloated over time too. Worse yet, your Android phone can run slow even with top-notch specs. So it’s definitely a great idea to take advantage of these optimizations, even if you rock a flagship Android phone.
Now that you know the advantages of Android Go apps, here are the Android Go apps you can try out right now. We’ll also cover the differences between these lightweight apps and their regular counterparts.
Note: All the Android Go apps are available in the Google Play Store. However, if the app is incompatible with your device or unavailable in your country, you can download and sideload the APK from the APKMirror links given below each app.
1. Gmail Go
Gmail Go is a slimmed-down version of the regular Gmail app. It comes with almost all the features of its regular counterpart, including support for multiple accounts, launcher shortcuts, swipe gestures, new mail notifications, and more.
Its features are so close to identical compared to the regular version that we wonder why the standard app is larger in size. The Gmail Go app seems to have occasional hiccups while scrolling, though. Hopefully, this is something that Google can fix with a software update in the near future.
As of writing, Gmail Go is not available as an open beta, so you need to install the APK from APKMirror and sideload it on your device.
2. Maps Go
Maps Go is a lightweight version of Google Maps. It retains most of the features of the regular Maps app such as real-time traffic updates, directions, public transport, and information about local businesses.
Being honest, though: Maps Go’s implementation doesn’t feel up to the mark right now.
For one, Maps Go is simply a Progressive Web App (PWA). So you need to have Chrome installed for it to work. Second, it’s definitely lighter and probably uses less data than the regular Maps Go app, but it doesn’t come with an offline mode. Offline usage is essential for users, especially in developing countries, where internet connectivity might be limited.
Some other features that aren’t supported in Maps Go:
- Turn-by-turn GPS navigation
- Sharing real-time location
- Setting home and work addresses
If you still want to test Maps Go, make sure to join the beta testing group, then hit the below link to download it from the Play Store.
3. Assistant Go
The lightweight version of Google Assistant lets you ask various questions with your voice, just like the regular version.
It seems fairly limited in other aspects, though. For instance, it currently supports English only. It’s likely that Google will add new languages soon.
This means that you cannot interact with third-party apps using the lightweight version of Google Assistant. Also, you cannot use your keyboard to type instructions for Google Assistant Go, so you’ll have to resort to speaking to it.
4. Gboard Go
Gboard Go retains the core features of the regular Gboard, such as gesture typing and integrated Google search. It also supports themes, which is surprising.
On the other hand, Gboard Go axes certain fancy features like GIF search, stickers, and one-handed mode. If you’ve wanted to use Gboard without these frills, Gboard Go is the perfect Android keyboard you’re looking for.
However, Gboard requires the latest Android 8.1 Oreo. This means that, depending on your manufacturer, it might take several months before you can give it a shot. Also, it’s not available on the Play Store right now, but you can download it from the APKMirror link below.
5. YouTube Go
Launched in 2016, YouTube Go was one of the first Android Go apps. This data-friendly version of YouTube is designed in a way to keep data consumed to a minimum.
The video previews feature gives you a sneak peek of what’s inside the video. YouTube Go also allows you to download videos for offline viewing. The regular YouTube app lets you save videos offline too, but the Go variant offers more control. For instance, it lets you choose the desired resolution and displays the estimated file size before downloading a video.
Video sharing is another exclusive YouTube Go feature that lets you share videos with nearby friends using Bluetooth.
Earlier this year, YouTube Go started rolling out to over 130 countries. It still doesn’t work in the US, but you can install it using the APK below.
6. Files Go
Files Go is Google’s first attempt at building a standalone file manager, so it doesn’t have a full-featured counterpart.
It comes with a slew of storage management features such as the ability to clear app cache, uninstall unused apps, find and remove duplicates, etc. It also ships with a Share Files feature that lets you transfer files wirelessly to nearby devices.
Files Go doesn’t support features such as file sharing network protocols like FTP, WebDAV, and SFTP. So, if you’re looking for such advanced features, we recommended to check out other our list of powerful third-party file managers for Android.
Download: Files Go (Free)
7. Google Go
Launched in early 2017 as Google Search Lite, the app was rebranded to Google Go late last year. It brings over many features of the main Google Search app: you can search Google, find and share images, search with your voice, and everything else you’d expect.
It’s almost identical to the regular Google Search, but offers a greater control over the interface. For instance, you can easily enable or disable access to features such as sports scores, movies, news, etc. Also, the web pages open substantially quicker, thanks to the Light Mode.
Overall, it offers the best of the Google Search app, while managing to keep the app size and data usage down.
Android Go Apps: Small in Size, Not in Features
Overall, I really like the concept of Android Go apps. Considering the fact that these lightweight apps sport most of the features of the regular ones, I’d choose most of them over the full-featured ones any day.
If you own an Android Go smartphone, the Google Play Store will highlight several other lightweight versions of regular apps. Google has also partnered with other third-party companies to provide a stripped-down version of their apps.