What do you do when you want to purchase a budget handset but also want quick and speedy updates to the base Android OS, in par with the official releases from Google? For quite a while, there was no true answer to this. But then came along Android One.
Google’s attempt at giving a Nexus like experience in a market segment where updates were akin to aliens in our universe: although some people believe they exist, there’s a high chance you’d never see one in your lifetime of existence.
Android One promised to change how the low-end functions with regards to updates. While it was not very successful in bringing about an ideological shift in the budget segment by increasing focus on updates, it did provide the consumer with a powerful tool that they were missing earlier: choice! If you did care about updates, you could spend money on a device that came guaranteed with a 2 year update promise from Google itself.
Thanks to the partial failure of the Android One program, Google eventually loosened its grip on the Android One program, allowing manufacturers a lot more choice when it came to component selection. Exact details of the policy are unknown, but included in the changes was the fine print that updates would now be handled as per the OEM’s schedule. We, the public, are not privy to the complete agreements in place between Google and the participating OEM’s, so it is likely that Google may have also loosened other aspects of the upgrade program as well.
It seems that the knot has been far more than what was necessary, as we have now started seeing bloatware emerge on Android One devices. The guilty device in this case is the Infinix Hot 2 X510, which is also Africa’s first Android One device.
The latest Android 6.0 Marshmallow update on the device sees one very curious addition: a “RAM Booster”. Reddit user KopiJahefound this on his relative’s device after an official OTA update. The multitasking screen now sees a big white button on the bottom, which also display the percentage of free RAM the user has on his device. Tapping the button does what devices with a good amount of RAM don’t need: it clears ALL active apps from the devices memory. As a disclaimer, KopiJahe notes that the RAM bar and the accompanying button on the top is added via the Gravitybox Xposed Module.
Now, one could argue that a low end device could probably benefit from the inclusion of such a “feature”. But a point to note is that the Infinix Hot 2 comes in 1GB and 2GB RAM variants, which are usually plentiful when it comes to running an otherwise stock Android approach. This is no TouchWiz or ZenUI or <insert bloated custom UI here>, this is stock Android for the most part. With the way multitasking is handled on Android, in newer versions of Android like 6.0 Marshmallow no less, you simply do not need to clear all running tasks: the OS should ideally take care of this itself, and do a more efficient job to boot.
There are a few possibilities why this feature has come to exist on an Android One device. Possibly, Google’s Android One guidelines now allow the inclusion of features from the OEM as a means to give them more freedom to distinguish their devices in the market. Another possibility, although unlikely, could be that Google itself may have recommended the addition of this “feature” on to Android One. Why, you ask? We don’t know of any good reason why one would need this feature in the first place, so a suggestion from Google seems all the more out of place.
The inclusion of this feature could spark the growth of heavy and unnecessary custom UI’s on a platform that was intended to serve vanilla Android to customers who could not go for a Nexus. This would defeat the entire purpose of the Android One program: if the OEM decides the update schedule and the OEM decides the skin, then how is this any different from any other budget device?
What are your thoughts on the addition of the “RAM Booster” on the Infinix Hot 2 Android One device? Let us knw your thoughts in the comments below!