Google is ramping up its Android One affordable smartphone program with a push into Africa. The first Android One smartphone for the region is being made by OEM Infinix, and is launching in Nigeria, Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya and Morocco today.
The handset runs Android 5.1 (Lollipop) at launch, but Google says it will be getting the new Android Marshmallow flavor once that’s released. Users of the handset will also get free updates via local mobile service provider MTN — as Google works to simplify (and squeeze) regional data plans to make the device more attractive to its target.
As part of the Android One program, Google works to reduce hardware costs by identifying components that will be used and pre-qualifying suppliers for the parts. On the software side it gives OEMs access to its Play Store to help them add locally relevant apps to the devices, as well as automating software updates as it does with Nexus devices.
Google launched the Android One affordability push last summer, targeting OEMs specifically making phones for emerging markets — and targeting the “next five billion” smartphone users in a bid to continue expanding Android’s marketshare (which generally hovers around the 80 per cent market globally).
The first Android One smartphone launched in India in September 2014, with three more Asian markets (Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka) offering devices by December. OEMs making Android One devices there include Micromax, Karbonn and Spice.
For its Africa Android One push, Google says it will also be extending YouTube offline to Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, and Egypt “in the coming months”. The feature lets users store videos within the YouTube app for up to 48 hours so they can watch them later when they don’t have a connection, or when the network they can access is too slow to stream