Android comes in many flavours, and not just the dessert kind with each letter version!
As well as versions for TV (Android TV), IOT (Android Things), Vehicles (Android Auto/motive), wearables (WearOS) and more, Android for devices equally comes in a few varieties, including Android Go and Android One.
Android One came to be in 2014 as a variant of Android targeting lower-end devices and launched in regions of the world best suited for it. As time has progressed this role has been instead adopted by Android Go, a version of Android much better suited to low-end specs with much smaller Go edition versions of popular Google applications to compliment it, offering maximum usable space on devices with 8GB storage.
Android One, in turn, has found a new demographic amongst popular global brands, expanding to midrange and even flagship devices. One of the biggest names to go all-in on Android One, of course, is Nokia (HMD Global).
Android One is more than just a version of Android OEMs can leverage however, it is a partnership between the OEM and Google. A collaboration of OEM hardware and Google software that harks back to the days of Nexus.
OEMs must apply for the Android One programme, under which there are a number of prerequisites to align to:
- The OEM must ship a minimum quantity of devices in order to be eligible. The Android One team are picky with whom they partner
- Android One devices must carry the Android One branding on the device and boot animation
- Android One devices must receive security updates every 30 days and two letter upgrades
- The Android One team must approve of any applications the OEM wishes to include, and will always lean towards a clean, vanilla experience over bundling bloatware
In return, Google contributes directly to the development of the OS images the devices receive, offering a much more controlled Android experience. The exception is often in camera apps, as normally OEMs will utilise their own best suited to the hardware, but equally other hardware features can be supported also and occasionally other apps equally get approved.
Consumers benefit from a performant, bloat-free device which receives frequent security updates, as well as two letter upgrades; few other OEMs on the market would ship two letter upgrades within their typical 18 month support lifecycle, and the Android Enterprise Recommended program equally only requires one letter upgrade to maintain compliance.
It comes up often in enterprise, enough in fact that there’s a FAQ about it!
Choosing a device for business use is not always a straightforward task. Even with the Android Enterprise Recommended list there are many devices to choose from, and some are better with security updates and general stability than others.
My personal opinion, as referred in the above link, would be to prioritise Android One devices for the simple fact they’ll receive two letter upgrades and guaranteed security updates every 30 days, something normally only guaranteed on flagship hardware instead available on devices starting from under £100.