Files by Google has now managed to surpass 500-million installs from the Google Play Store, proving that the simplest solution is often the best option. The app, commonly referred to simply as Google Files, initially appeared under the Files Go branding in 2017.
As its branding implies, this app is a fast and easy way to manage files. More directly, it's an almost seamless and effort-free way to manage storage space. That includes everything from photos and documents to APK files often left behind after installation. Users have the option to delete duplicate files too. And in each case, every bit of control is left at users' fingertips so that nothing is deleted by accident.
Beyond that, the app offers an easy way to see what apps haven't been used in quite a while. From there, it provides all of the tools necessary to remove those, in-app, without navigating to the Play Store or Android's built-in app manager.
Finally, the tool offers users a localized free and data-connection-free way to transfer files between devices and friends.
Google presents those to users along with adorable accompanying animations. Those are intended to help users feel as though they've really accomplished something by cleaning up their device.
How does this show that simpler is better?
The company has made frequent improvements since its inception. But it never really left the budget phone-first approach of the original offering. Often, those updates have explicitly centered around security and privacy. But that's not really what sets this app apart in terms of how impressive its install base is. Like Google's RCS-based Android messaging app, Files by Google broached that number without a huge base of pre-installs.
Namely, like that other app — which recently hit 1-billion installs — this app isn't pre-installed on a lot of devices. That's particularly pertinent since Google initially intended the app for cheap Android smartphones that simply didn't deliver on storage capacity. Stacking atop that, the install numbers here represent not just budget phones but also likely plenty of flagships and mid-rangers.
It's because this tool is simply useful enough to be worth making the decision to download, that the figure is impressive. Especially since Google doesn't include the bells and whistles found in other file management apps. Instead, it worked to ensure that everything is straightforward and simple.
Files by Google remains free but isn't just for budget phones anymore
Now, because it's so simplistic, Files by Google doesn't easily earn its way into lists of the best file management apps for Android. Those positions are filled by more feature-rich apps that work more closely to a traditional PC file manager. But that doesn't mean it doesn't stack up to other apps where it really matters.
To begin with, in spite of consistent improvements to usability and Google's decision to drop the Go branding, this app is still completely free to install and use.
The company has additionally kept the file size of the app itself low enough that dropping the Go branding wasn't really a necessity. It easily remains one of the best apps on the market for file management. Especially when it comes to time to quickly sort through and delete unwanted files and apps that take up space.