Earlier today, Google took to the stage in India to introduce the first three devices that have kickstarted the Android One program. Earlier this year, the search giant announced the new initiative to help those in emerging markets to get their hands on budget-friendly hardware without the compromise, with a key focus on timely software updates directly from Google themselves. We’ve been leading up to a system like this for some time now, and where better to launch than in India, the world’s second-largest mobile market?
Sundar Pichai himself took to the official Google blog to formally introduce us to Android One, while also telling us how the company aims to teach the next five billion users. It’s an ambitious plan and Pichai isn’t complacent himself, writing “this is just the beginning of the Android One journey” and it’s not a bad start if you were to ask us. Google has introduced phones from local Indian vendors, Karbonn, Micromax and Spice, but the blog post also introduces us to new members. These new members of the Android One family will be more familiar to us here in the West, with Acer, Alcatel Onetouch, ASUS, HTC, Intex, Lava, Lenovo, Panasonic, Xolo, and even the Snapdragon stalwart, Qualcomm all jumping onboard.
Today’s devices, like the Karbonn Sparkle V and the Micromax Canvas A1 might not seem all that inspiring, but they’re important start devices for Android One. They embody the principles of the program by being affordable enough for the majority of folks to pick up and to keep data costs down, they include FM Radios as well as other common features in the Indian market like dual SIM cards and removable batteries.
It’s not just the hardware though, Android One has partnered with Airtel to make sure that users can keep their devices updated, with Android updates exempt from a user’s data allowance. Add that to the 200MB extra that Airtel customers can use to download apps from Google’s Play Store and it’s clear that Android One isn’t just about the hardware; it’s about the whole experience. Below, Google have put together a pretty short and sweet introduction to Android One and Pichai ends his post by adding that Android One will spread to “Indonesia, the Philippines and South Asia (Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) by the end of the year, with more countries to follow in 2015” so yes, this is just the beginning for Android One.