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(Pocket-lint) - Google has officially launched the Android One platform in India, looking to expand its reach with more affordable devices in emerging markets.

Targeting India for the launch - which already has a huge smartphone user base - the phones will come from companies like Micromax (India's larger phone manufacturer), Karbonn and Spice Retail initially. 

For India, the data plans for the new handsets will come from Bharti Airtel. 

Android One was announced in June 2014 and is designed to allow Google to own the smartphone experience on these devices.

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With close to stock Android - like Nexus or Motorola devices - the idea is that Google can push updates to these affordable handsets, without having to rely on manufacturers in the middle. 

Talking to the BBC, Sundar Pichai, SVP at Google, detailed the process, saying: "We provide our OEMs a menu, effectively. They can choose the CPU, the GPU, the storage, the type of battery, the type of camera." 

"It really saves them a lot of effort in terms of identifying the right hardware, doing all the testing you need to do to get the software to run on this hardware. We tune it, we work out the bugs … we keep it secure, we update it and so on."

The initial specs that Android One devices will have to offer as a minimum are a 4.5-inch display, 1GB of RAM, a 5-megapixel rear and 2-megapixel front camera, as well as a quad-core Mediatek chipset.

They will also come with microSD card support, an FM radio, replaceable battery and dual SIM support.

Manufacturers are allowed to add apps, but not allowed to put a skin over the top - as favoured by Sony, Samsung and HTC Android phones - and Google is making some tweaks to some of its apps, specifically for India: Google Now will have railway bookings, as well the essential cricket scores.

Android One will evolve, with more manufacturers and Qualcomm signing up more recently and expand into other territories including the Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Writing by Chris Hall.