Android 11 is set to include all sorts of new features and improvements on Android 10 when it lands later this year, but it looks like it might also come with some limitations in terms of which devices can use it.
According to what's apparently a leaked copy of Google’s ‘Android 11 Go edition Device Configuration Guide’ (dated April 24, 2020), obtained by XDA Developers, all new devices that launch with Android 11 and have 2GB of RAM or less must use Android Go.
Android Go is a lighter take on Android, with stripped-back versions of core apps. It’s designed for low-end devices that would struggle to run full-fat Android, but previously it was optional, whereas if this leak is accurate it could soon be a requirement for devices that have 2GB of RAM or less.
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Starting from the final quarter of the year, any new device launched with Android 10 must also run the Android Go version if it has 2GB of RAM or less, according to this leak. So manufacturers won’t be able to get around the requirement by using an older version of Android, unless they opt for a much older version.
However, devices that have already launched will apparently be exempt – so in other words, if a device runs Android 10 now and has 2GB of RAM or less, it will be possible for the manufacturer to update it to Android 11 without switching to Android Go.
No more 512MB phones
All this essentially means that full fat Android soon won’t be an option for new low-end devices. But Google is going a step further according to this leak and is also dropping Google Mobile Services support for all devices with 512MB of RAM or less, starting with Android 11.
That applies to both new and current devices, and essentially means it won’t be possible for them to run Android 11 at all, as they’d have to do so without access to the Google Play app store or Google apps such as Maps. Basically, it would put them into the position that new Huawei handsets have been forced into.
All of this should be good news though. It will likely mean that we won’t really see devices launched with 512MB of RAM anymore (not that we see many now), and that those with 2GB or less will be as optimized as possible, by having to run Android Go.
It is, of course, possible that this leak is wrong or that Google has since changed its mind, so this may not happen. We should find out in September, as that’s when the finished version of Android 11 will probably launch.