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Google Launches "Android One" Effort Targeting Affordable Phones in Developing Markets

The project aims to bring sub-$100 phones with the latest software worldwide.

Aiming to boost its presence in emerging markets, Google on Wednesday announced plans for Android One, an effort to make it easier for hardware makers to build affordable, high-end Android phones quickly.

Google provides reference hardware designs and the software on the phones is also stock Android, as with the Nexus and Google Play phones it sells directly. That also means the devices can be updated automatically.

“These are high-quality, affordable smartphones,” Google Senior VP Sundar Pichai said, pointing to a coming Android One device from Micromax that will pack a 4.5-inch screen and sell for less than $100. Right now, he said, too many hardware makers are trying to reinvent the wheel.

Although low-end Android devices are flourishing, they often lack the latest versions of Android — something Google would clearly like to change.

Hardware makers and carriers can’t pre-install their own software interfaces, but they can have apps that automatically get loaded from the Google Play Store.

The project will start with three makers in India this fall, but Google says it aims to take Android One global.

In addition to the Android One effort, Pichai also announced a developer preview of the next version of Android, known at this point only as “L.”

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