During its developer conference this past June, Google gave us a glimpse of Android One, a reference platform for devices targeted at those producing smartphones for emerging markets. The goal of Android One is to create a great Android experience with good hardware and timely updates in or around $100.
Nearly three months on from that initial announcement, Google has confirmed the first Android One devices are headed for India. The Android One family currently consists of three devices: the Karbonn Sparkle V, the Micromax Canvas A1, and the Spice Dream Uno. All three are made by India-based companies, and will receive updates direct from Google. However, Google has also partnered with major manufacturers like Acer, Alcatel One Touch, Asus, HTC, Intex, Lava, Lenovo, Panasonic, Xolo, and Qualcomm.
Though the introduction of these three budget Android devices doesn’t mean much for Canadians (Android One, by its very nature, will likely never come to Canada or the United States), it speaks volumes as to Google’s increasing involvement with Android as a whole and its continued commitment to delivering a consistent Android experience regardless of manufacturer or price point. The fact that Google is now partnering with major manufacturers could mean the company is exploring the possibility of higher-end devices based around the Android One concept.
Once upon a time, the scope of Google’s involvement with Android was the development of the OS and not much more. Slowly, with the Nexus line, the company has introduced us to what it believes embodies the best Android experience across both hardware and software, and that includes software updates directly from Google.
With Android One, the company has a hand in the reference design and will also be the one issuing updates to devices independent of the carrier or manufacturer. It’s not quite the level of control the company wields with the Nexus line, but it’s a lot more than usual and it could be an indication of where Android is going in the future, especially with the expansion of its list of Android One partners.
Google is rumoured to be launching the Nexus 9 tablet, as well as a Nexus X phone, before the end of this year, expected to be manufactured by HTC and Motorola respectively.