Google has pushed forward with new minimum specs requirements for Android GO Edition devices. That's according to a leaked document obtained by XDA Developers. The document, titled "Android 11 GO edition Device Configuration Guide," is dated for April of this year. As its title betrays, it effectively lays out expectations for low-spec devices. Specifically, it requires that all new devices as of Android 11 will have to run the GO variant if they have 2GB RAM or less.
The purported new guidelines also note that devices with less than 512MB RAM no longer qualify for GMS. That's Google Mobile Services and all but required to run any usable form of Android.
These minimum specs changes will apply outside of Android 11 too
Now, that doesn't mean that devices updating to Android 11 from Android 10 will be subject to the same rules. But new devices launching with Android 10 will have to follow the guidelines too. Specifically, Google says that all new products launching with Android 10 will need to run GO edition if they have 2GB RAM or less. That's as of Q4 2020.
The move closes a loophole some OEMs may have opted to go through. Namely, without the requirement in place, manufacturers could potentially have launched Android 10 devices instead of Android 11 gadgets to avoid using Android GO. And that's ultimately going to be better for consumers in the long-term.
Android GO is far better optimized for low-spec smartphones, to begin with. Bumping up to 2GB RAM helps offset the rampant growth on the specs front. Some gadgets land with as much as 12GB or more. So third-party apps from developers and the overall experience are slowly being reworked in that direction too. The optimizations will be needed to keep the end-user experience more consistent.
No, your old device isn't getting Android GO for better performance
The final requirement here is going to dash the hopes of anybody who might have hoped for an update to deliver a better experience though. Google is not requiring older devices with less than 2GB RAM to update for end-users. In fact, its explicitly forbidding it, if these documents are accurate. Devices with 2GB RAM or less that are already available will have to maintain course with the standard GMS configuration.
Regardless, this should equate to a better budget smartphone experience for those who prefer handsets at the affordable end of the pool.