There are so many versions of Android it can get confusing.
The latest flavour of Android is Android Oreo. But you may have also heard about "stock" Android and Android One and may not understand what they all are and how they differ.
Well, stock Android can be Android Oreo. And Android One is similar to stock Android - only it was originally intended for entry-level devices headed to emerging markets. To help you understand the differences, keep reading.
What is Android One?
- Originally conceived for entry-level devices for emerging markets
- Offers a stock Android experience
Android One is a line of Android devices designed for first-time smartphone users in emerging markets. It was first introduced at Google's I/O developer conference in 2014.
Android One devices are stock Android phones that partner OEMs manufacture. Google's goal here is to facilitate the spread of Google-controlled Android via compelling products. Basically, it's a little like the old Nexus programme, but rather than being flagship devices sold by Google, these are pure Android devices sold through other retailers.
That original aim has moved on slightly, with the most recent launches bringing Android One to the mid-range, and breaking out of the original "emerging markets" ambition, to offer Android One on a global scale. The aim is to be secure and stable and designed to run Google software, so you have that Android experience without any of the stuff that manufacturers like to bundle in - no skins, no duplicate apps, although there may be some other pre-installed software.
Think of it like entry-level Nexus devices and you're on the right track.
What does Android One feature?
Android One is described as "the purest form of Android." With it, you get "the best version of Android, right out of the box", according to Google. You get Google services like Google Duo, YouTube, and Maps - in fact the full suite of Google services.
Android One phones also come with built-in Google Play Protect, which helps ensure that your apps are secure, regularly scanning the phone to ensure everything is behaving as it should.
Android One phones are optimised for Google Assistant, so you can use Google's helper to hail a ride, text a friend, and do all the things you can do with Assistant on other devices. Go here to learn more about Google Assistant and how it works on mobile devices.
It's a powerful service and the great thing is that it keeps getting better all the time, so you're not limited by your device.
With Android One, your device will receive up to two years of upgrades to the latest version of Android. That means that if you buy an Android One device on Oreo, you should end up with Android Q.
You therefore don't need to endlessly wait for your device's manufacturer to roll out updates, as the manufacturer doesn't have much to do with the software. It didn't customise it or alter it in any way, making it easy for Google to update.
In addition, you get 3-years of Android monthly security update.
How is it different from stock Android?
- You may get apps on top of the standard Google suite
- You may also get additional features, like SIM configuration
Stock Android devices - like Pixel phones and Nexus phones - run the purest form of Android, Google's mobile operating system. The latest version of Android is Android Oreo. Phones not running stock Android will often have overlays, bloatware, and sometimes janky elements that bog down or muddle the Android experience. For the most part, Android One is stock Android. So what's different?
Well, you may get apps on top of the standard Google suite, depending on your device. Some of the first Android One phones did come with a few extras, such as Amazon's app, AskMe.com app, the M!Live app, and others. You might also need a microSD card to take screenshots or photos, as Android One phones might have limited internal storage space. There may also be additional features.
These features are for emerging markets. For instance, if you have a dual-SIM phone you can choose your default SIM for calls, data, and SMS. Aside from that, Android One phones are basically stock Android phones.
Which devices run Android One?
Google has the full list of Android One devices available from here. The current list includes the Android One Moto X4, Xiaomi M1, Xiaomi Mi A1, Y Mobile X1, Y Mobile S1, Y Mobile S2, General Mobile GM5, and General Mobile GM5 Plus.
HTC has also just announced the HTC U11 Life which is an Android One handset, though there is an exclusive T-Mobile US version runs Android Nougat with HTC Sense. The HTC U11 Life is the first Android One Oreo handset and HTC's first Android One handset.