Android Go Apps vs Regular Apps: Key Differences

Comparing Android Go and Regular apps is essential to truly understand the Android ecosystem and how Google is expanding its reach to a broader audience pool, encouraging developers and app companies to do the same. 

Android Go is an optimized version of the regular Android operating system developed by Google that is designed to run smoothly on devices with less than 2GB of RAM. The Go edition includes all the core features of Android, along with optimizations and tweaks that allow it to provide a good user experience on low-end hardware. 


Android Go apps deliver an efficient, user-friendly experience on affordable devices with low specs, while regular Android apps are feature-rich and target premium smartphones & tablets. The two app ecosystems complement each other in Google’s Android strategy to cover a broader target audience. 

Key Differences Between Android Go and Regular Android Apps

One of the most significant differences between regular Android and Android Go is the apps that can be installed. Google provides optimized “Go” versions of its apps like Gmail and YouTube for Android Go devices. Additionally, third-party developers can create lighter apps explicitly designed for Go devices. You need to hire Android developers with credible experience in developing ‘Go’ apps for such devices to target this special platform. Here are some of the key differences between Android Go apps and regular Android apps:

Size of Apps

The most noticeable difference is that Android Go apps are much smaller than their regular counterparts. For example, the regular YouTube app is around 30MB, while the YouTube Go app is less than 10 MB. This reduced size allows the apps to be downloaded faster and consume less data.

Android Go apps are designed to be under 10MB in size. This ensures that the apps only eat up a little of the limited storage available on low-end Android Go phones. Regular Android apps can be over 100MB and are not optimized for smaller storage.

Less Hardware Requirements

Android Go apps require much lower hardware specifications to run smoothly. They are optimized to work well on devices with 1GB RAM or even less. Regular Android apps, in comparison, may struggle to run correctly on such low-end hardware.

Things like high-resolution graphics, visually rich designs, and animations are avoided in Android Go apps to reduce hardware usage. The regular apps do not have such tight optimization and can lag or crash on entry-level devices.

Data Usage

Android Go apps are designed to consume lesser mobile data. This is very important for Go devices targeting developing markets with expensive cellular data.

Techniques like compression, caching, and stripping away unnecessary elements are used to reduce data transfer. There are no such considerations for data usage in regular Android apps.


Android Go apps provide the core features and experience of regular apps, but some supplementary features are cut out. This allows the Go versions to remain light and fast for low-end hardware.

For example, Google Go is built for basic web searching and does not include additional services like Gmail, Drive, etc., in the full Google app. Useful but non-essential features are excluded. This also gives a more decluttered look and helps Go users reach their intended places faster, enriching the overall user experience and improving their usage satisfaction. 


The combination of a lightweight footprint and optimization for low hardware results in Android Go apps performing better on such devices. They will launch faster, run smoother, and be more responsive than their regular versions or third-party apps not designed for Go.

So, the YouTube Go app will have lower loading times and play videos with less lag and frame drops compared to the regular YouTube app on the same Android Go device.

Target Audience

Android Go and its apps aim to develop markets where lower-end devices are much more common. Regular Android apps target higher-end devices and a global Android user base.

So, Android Go apps are designed from the ground up to serve their core purpose resource-efficiently for affordable smartphones. Regular apps have a much wider target audience and device range.

UI/UX Design

Android Go apps tend to have simpler user interfaces with larger targets, more negative space, and a focus on efficient usage. Regular Android apps have more complex interfaces, information density, and advanced features and generally target power users.

Hence, Gmail Go has larger buttons, prominent options, and stripped-away sections compared to the full version of Gmail. The interface is redesigned for low-end devices, with the key focus areas being usability and ease of use. This UI/UX consideration also comes in handy for people with poor eyesight or older people who might get overwhelmed by the many options provided on a regular Gmail app compared to the easily navigable Gmail Go app. 

Development Process

Google provides specific guidance to developers around designing and developing Android Go apps. There are recommendations on app size, performance, features, optimization, UI patterns, etc. These result in small and efficient Go apps.

Regular Android apps can be developed without any size or hardware restrictions. So, third-party developers may only optimize their apps for low-end devices if they precisely target Android Go users.

Lower Monetization

Android Go apps show fewer ads than regular apps, especially from Google. Given the target user base, there needs to be more focus on aggressive monetization.

YouTube Go does not show any ads at all. Gmail Go has no banner ads. The ads that are present are non-intrusive. This may affect revenue streams but leads to a much better, non-intrusive user experience.

Final Words

Key Differences at a Glance

  • Android Go apps are under 10MB, while regular apps can be over 100MB
  • Go apps run smoothly on devices with 1GB RAM or less; regular apps may struggle
  • Go apps use techniques to minimize data usage, which is vital for developing markets
  • Go apps provide core features & experience; non-essential elements are cut out
  • The performance and stability of Go apps are better on low-end hardware
  • The target audience for Go is developing countries; regular apps target a global user base
  • Go apps have simpler interfaces focused on usability, while regular apps target power users
  • Google provides guidelines for building optimized Go apps with no such restrictions for common apps
  • Go apps contain fewer ads and less aggressive monetization

In summary, the key differences come down to Android Go apps being smaller, faster, less resource-intensive, more data efficient and designed for entry-level smartphones. Regular Android apps target a more comprehensive range of hardware, so they do not have tight optimization but offer richer features and experiences. Google has successfully provided app experiences explicitly crafted for the following billion new Android users while allowing regular apps to continue pushing the boundaries towards higher resource-intensive but visually appealing experiences. Hire dedicated developers who are up-to-date with all such advancements to make sure you have all the options to push your app to more people in the market.