Hopes to onboard users who are late adopters of internet, possibly not English educated and have phones which they use for varied needs

Google has launched a set of new initiatives to lure the next 500 million smartphone users, which involve smaller app sizes, ability to work in 2G connections and enabling better battery life.

This framework for developing apps will be extended to app-development companies.

The tech giant had launched Android Go, a light version of the Android operating system run on cheap smartphones which have lesser memory and storage space.

Google calls it ‘building for the next billion’ framework— through which it hopes to onboard users who are late adopters of internet, possibly not English educated and have phones which they use for varied needs — from entertainment to payments. “Google’s apps have to be relevant to users — from user experience to the way it works in challenging conditions,” said Purnima Kochikar, Director, Business Development, Games and Applications, Google Play.

These efforts are coming at a time when Indians install around a billion apps every month from Play Store, a three-fold increase when compared to 2016, according to Google data.

As a part of this, Google has laid out a framework for developers to build apps that factor in things such as poor network connection, different devices, battery saving, data sensitivity and better user experiences.

App developers in India, such as MakeMyTrip, Moonfrog Labs, RailYatri, on their part have been making efforts to design apps that meet the above requirements, but have been handcuffed as certain aspects in the Android operating system is controlled by Google. “These concepts (apps) originated in the West where none of the above are major issues,” according to Kapil Raizada, co-founder, RailYatri.

These issues are coming to the foreground as majority of users that giants like Google or Facebook eye come from different economic and social backgrounds.

“The application size needs to be reduced, loading time needs to be improved and bandwidth needs to be prioritised depending on the kind of content being consumed by users,” explained Soni.

Mark Skaggs, co-creator of the game FarmVille, now a Director at Moonfrog Labs, the brain behind Teen Patti game, pointed out that people from the West are blind to the connectivity issues in India. Moonfrog had to make a game which could run on 2G connections and at the same time had rich graphics, he added.

Earlier attempts

Google, similarly, has made tweaks to YouTube Go. When running on an Android Go smartphone, the app will let users select video quality before streaming.

If a user is near a Wi-Fi connection, it will also allow users to download videos for offline viewing later, a feature which was only available for paid subscribers.

This is not the first time Google has chalked out a different path for India. In 2015, it made a similar attempt with Android One, which was an attempt to take smartphones to the masses. The attempt was a muted success.