back to article Google shaves half a gig off Android Poundland Edition

Google's "Poundland" Edition of Android – Go – has received an update to 9.0 Pie. Google leaps on the platform formerly known as Firefox with $22m splurge for KaiOS READ MORE Not to be confused with Android One, which is really a marketing program for full fat Android, Go Edition is a small footprint version of Android …

  1. James 51 Silver badge

    Goodereader has an editoral saying ereader manufactures should be using Android Go for readers.

    1. Waseem Alkurdi
      Trollface

      And El Reg responds by saying that they should use embedded Linux and an E-Ink display instead.

      E-Readers aren't full-fledged devices and should not be. If you want a full device with apps, get a tablet.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        My Sony tablet runs full fat Android, with an e-ink display, and it works very nicely. It's an oldish version of Android now I guess, but it can be hacked to run apps (not the there would be too many apps that work well on e-ink displays).

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          I can see some of both sides here:

          I can see the benefit of a an E-Ink tablet for reviewing and annotating text. From there, being to use Android apps and services to share the results with collaborators would seem to be a reasonable use-case. More niche are paragliders who like their GPS on E-Ink, for visibility in bright sunlight.

          For just reading some fiction on the beach, Android is likely overkill.

      2. Alan_Peery

        Where are the missing e-ink tablets?

        Why should a tablet not have an e-ink screen? There are cases for full functionality with a screen fully visible in sunshine -- even if that screen has to be monochrome.

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Re: Where are the missing e-ink tablets?

          Android is pointless on eInk Readers and maybe only to make vendor "spying" easier.

          The eInk is inherently only suited to reading and annotation, yet most are useless for actually getting the notes back to PC. Yet they put things like share note/higlight to Facebook, but not email nor ability to easily read back on per book basis.

          I've an Android tablet and phone. The phone is convenient for reading eBooks, yet I've not found a single really good (i.e. actually better than Kobo H20, Sony PRS350 or Kindle eInk) ereader app.

          The ability to search, organise, categorise, import the books is terrible. New eReaders in some cases worse than early ones. Homescreens almost dedicated to marketing. Worse than 1980s document management systems.

          No point in Android apps in general on an eInk screen. They are best for reading. They could do with better reading apps and book management. This has not improved in 12+ years.

          I've used maybe nine models of eReaders (one oddly was LCD not a tablet like Fire) and tried loads of Android apps. Aldiko not too bad.

          I should not need Calibre to manage my "library" and eReaders.

      3. karlkarl

        "E-Readers aren't full-fledged devices and should not be. If you want a full device with apps, get a tablet."

        No. If you want a full device... get an IBM PC Compatible ;)

        1. Waseem Alkurdi

          Precisely. Wish I could upvote you more!

          That's why my main (and only) computing device is a formerly-Windows-8-now-Linux business tablet (with a Tablet PC-style hinge and a pen, like real tablets are supposed to be, and I can live up with the measly battery life!)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    May sound obvious but is there any way to get Android Go for regular devices?

    After all, if Maps Go is 50% smaller than regular Maps, but only removes features a small percentage of users need....it could be pleasant.

    Like how I run Lubuntu even though I don't have a low-powered machine, simply because I don't want or need the cruft the full-fat versions comes with...

    1. Waseem Alkurdi

      Android is open-source, and there *is* "AOSP Go" in the form of a branch of LineageOS that you can build for any device.

      There's this for example: https://www.xda-developers.com/samsung-galaxy-tab-e-android-oreo-go-edition-lineageos-15-1/

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Maps Go is little more than a link to a browser, something called Progressive Web Apps. So apparently yes, you can 'install' on normal Android, and you don't even need an APK file. It doesn't have navigation or offline maps though - the latter being well worthwhile if you have ample storage on your handset. Still, suck it and see:

      https://www.digitbin.com/install-google-maps-go-incompatible/

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge

    2.5 Gig footprint for a fucking phone OS

    I wonder how many Symbian kernels you could fit into that...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 2.5 Gig footprint for a fucking phone OS

      Quite a few, but none of them would work, and would be chock full of long-running bugs.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: 2.5 Gig footprint for a fucking phone OS

        Quite a few, but none of them would work, and would be chock full of long-running bugs.

        Whatever you do don't look at the Android bug tracker and sort by date then.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: 2.5 Gig footprint for a fucking phone OS

      Oh yeah, Symbian, the OS that wasn't well suited to lots of memory and graphics acceleration, causing its caretaker to be late to market with a Linux-based successor. It wasn't just Symbian that hit this bottle neck; the likes of Sony pushed PalmOS as far as it could go. Like Palm OS, Symbian didn't start out on telephones.

      As a telephony OS Symbian was fine (though I remember one Nokia taking two minutes to open an standard SMS message) but most of here have mobile internet devices and general purpose computers that we merely call phones.

  4. adam payne Silver badge

    2.5GB for a phone OS, that's bigger than some Windows XP installs.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      What was the storage capacity of the typical PC when XP was released?

      1. jason 7

        Maybe 40-80GB?

        1. Dave Pickles

          "What was the storage capacity of the typical PC when XP was released?"

          I bought a laptop in 2000 with a 20 Gig HD, so 40GB for a desktop machine sounds about right.

      2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        What was the storage capacity of the typical PC when XP was released?

        More than 8GB

    2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      It is pretty ridiculous isn't it? As an old dinosaur, I do feel quite sad at how easily devs can get their hands on resources from devices nowadays, and how profligate they are with them.

      I wonder what that equates to in terms of height of a stack of punch cards....

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Snowy
          Coat

          @Aladdin Sane

          YOu have put an extra ' at the end of your link

          1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

            Re: @Aladdin Sane

            Obligatory xkcd.

      2. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
        Boffin

        New El Reg UoM?

        I wonder what that equates to in terms of height of a stack of punch cards....

        Wonder no more! A punch card can hold about 80 characters or 10 bytes. This means 500MB would take about 5e7 cards. There are about 143 cards to the inch. Stacking them in a continuous column climbs up 349,650 inches or around five and a half miles. YMMV (literally) depending on data storage format on the cards, rounding errors and other assumptions made above, and the amount of caffeine consumed immediately prior to digging this up.

        1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

          Re: New El Reg UoM?

          Inches? Miles? Might I suggest you have a look here

          1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: New El Reg UoM?

            Inches? Miles? Might I suggest you have a look here

            I was aware of the page, but it would not run properly on my work machine. This theoretical stack of cards would soar into the skies a whopping 403 Brontosaurus lengths. Just picture 403 of these late Jurassic giants end to end and then imagine them floating snout to tail tip straight up* and you will be rewarded with a dubiously accurate image of this posited assemblage.

            * You might want to imagine a sturdy umbrella or similar protection (see icon) because at least one of the beasts is going to go and from that height... well, let's leave it there.

        2. Phil Endecott Silver badge

          Re: New El Reg UoM?

          > A punch card can hold about 80 characters or 10 bytes.

          Nope, try again.

        3. Richard Plinston Silver badge

          Re: New El Reg UoM?

          > A punch card can hold about 80 characters or 10 bytes.

          A punch card can hold 80 bytes. 'characters' is not 'bits'.

          Some punch cards were smaller and 132 column, such as on System 3.

          I could hold the operating system on punch cards for an ICL 1901 in one hand. It was about 3inch stack.

          1. Brett Weaver

            Re: New El Reg UoM?

            Just a Note: The IBM System 3 card was a 96 column card. Interestingly, the card was used, when printed, to print receipts in the early IBM ATMs.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        > I wonder what that equates to in terms of height of a stack of punch cards....

        Enough to kill you if it toppled.

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      It's an OS for a device that does everything Windows XP can, more or less, so why expect huge difference? Its a 64bit OS designed with the internet, more than half a gig of RAM, video and hardware acceleration in mind. The only reason I would expect an XP install to be bigger is if it hadn't been shorn of drivers for a thousand printers and other hardware configurations.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        It's an OS for a device that does everything Windows XP

        Really?

        Crap and erratic support on apps for copy/paste, printing, external storage, non-USA keyboards, custom key layouts, network resources etc.

        It's more like Win 3.0. Barely, at least you didn't have to BUY a file manager for win 3.x.

        Android is a work in progress that has been crawling in terms of developing useful to user rather than useful to Google features.

        1. captain veg

          Re: It's an OS for a device that does everything Windows XP

          I switched to LineageOS a couple of years ago when our BOFHs tweaked Exchange in some diabolical way that the email app on my N9 didn't understand. Have to say that I was shocked at how user-hostile it is. My first ever smartphone (also my first ever mobile phone of any kind) was far and away the easiest to use. A Handspring Treo, it ran PalmOS.

          -A.

  5. Oh Homer Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Small footprint OS

    If Google really wants a small footprint OS then it should probably stop using Java and switch to asm instead.

    1. RyokuMas Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Small footprint OS

      Strip out all the tracking and monitoring, that should shave a gig or so off, easy!

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Small footprint OS

      I think the plan is indeed to ditch Java for the OS at some point, though I don't think that it will be replaced by FASM, not least because of the huge variety of SoC's that are expected to run. KolibirOS looks nice but I think I'd rather investigate QNX or RiscOS as possibile altermatives.

      In any case, while shrinking the footprint is indeed desirable, the mere fact that 8GB ROMs are pretty much standard for the lower end and can still lead to devices with sale prices < $ 30 tells you that this isn't the bottleneck it once was.

      1. James 51 Silver badge

        Re: Small footprint OS

        If yuou're going to go to QNX, why not just bring back BB10?

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Small footprint OS

          If yuou're going to go to QNX, why not just bring back BB10?

          I guess that Google (could easily afford to buy BB) and others looked at that and decided against it. After all, BlackBerry did the same after a couple of years. I suspect that mixing so much virtualisation with direct access to the hardware where required isn't easy.

          1. Ledswinger Silver badge

            Re: Small footprint OS

            I suspect that mixing so much virtualisation with direct access to the hardware where required isn't easy.

            OTOH, I suspect that Google don't give a shit, and Android is now very, very mature, and the business plan is to milk it dry, doing diddly squat beyond the minimum, and that minimum includes periodic "new releases" with increasingly token improvements, and squashing sufficient security bugs to give the appearance of doing something about security.

            This is of course the norm for all software businesses.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Small footprint OS

      Java apps are extremely small as long as the developer can resist the urge to link to every open source library on Earth.

      Google stuff is enormous because Google absolutely sucks at dependency management and they don't believe in dynamic library linking. Imagine tens of thousands of code monkeys each writing to and for APIs that are an opaque mix of local code and RPCs. You give up figuring out where anything is. The Googly version of "Hello World" that I learned in training took 15 minutes to compile, produced a 120MB executable, and took 5 seconds to launch. I told the teacher that I wasn't impressed. He recommend I turn on the "optimize" flag so it would only be 75 MB.

      Not even Google can solve Googly problems. Rumor is that Google created Golang to ditch all the baggage around their C++ and Java codebases. Unfortunately, Go's crude data structures can not model the protobuf spec. At the time of my escape, the Go codebase was bloating out of control as maintainers of API code generators attempted to produce more correct protobuf models using complex trees of interfaces. Again, all of that bloat is statically linked into every single executable.

  6. DarkLordofSurrey

    When El Reg starts calling WRITABLE storage ROM it's a portent of the coming apocalypse!

  7. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge
    Linux

    Old Linux ?

    How many people remember the early days of Linux when it would run well on a 386 with 8MB ?

    (OS, X windows, X term all fitting easily into 8MB)

    1. horse of a different color

      Re: Old Linux ?

      8MB? Luxury! I remember running Acorn OS on 32K, and counting myself bloody lucky!

      1. Peter Mount

        Re: Old Linux ?

        In recent months I've been playing with ESP8266 chips with NodeMCU - quite refreshing using something again with limited ram

      2. Tony W

        Re: Old Linux ?

        Going down. Sharp PC1211 with less than 2K bytes. It ran a tokenised BASIC. This was not a toy for me, I had a few very useful programs for on-site calculation.

        I'm sure there will be further bids in this Dutch memory auction ...

      3. GIRZiM

        Re: Old Linux ?

        > 8MB? Luxury! I remember running Acorn OS on 32K, and counting myself bloody lucky!

        Right.

        1K ZX81.

        But you try and tell that to the young people today!

        1. Norman Nescio Bronze badge

          Re: Old Linux ?

          1K?

          (You attempted to end too early, which puts you in Nid.)

          You were lucky. I 'ad 256 bytes and a 20 key keyboard. Being sliced in two wit' bread knife was optional.

          1. GIRZiM
            Pint

            Re: Old Linux ?

            @Norman

            Magnificent!

            ROFPMSLMAO!!!

            You've earned it ---->

          2. Robert Sneddon

            Science of Cambridge Mk14

            Still got mine, it still works. I hacked a lot of push-buttons onto it since the original rubber-sheet keyboard thing was a PITA to use.

          3. Oh Homer Silver badge
            Coffee/keyboard

            Re: 256 bytes

            Luxury. We had nowt for 8 years 'till we got a whoppin' 200 bytes o' RAM.

      4. nagyeger

        Re: Old Linux ?

        32K? Thirty two? What luxury! You could play acorn invaders and rat race in 3K, as long as you could get the volume right on the tape player.

        3K of RAM really taught you how to watch your code for bloat.

        The first Linux distro I used fited on 2 floppies, if I remember right that was including including gcc.

      5. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Old Linux ?

        32K? When I was younger, 32K was the sort of stratospheric amount of memory you only saw on mainframes or if you could afford to plunk down $2,000.

    2. Peter Mount
      Happy

      Re: Old Linux ?

      Oh yes, a 386sx33 with a math co-processor & a then massive 4GB IDE drive. I had slackware running on it

      1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: Old Linux ?

        > Oh yes, a 386sx33 with a math co-processor & a then massive 4GB IDE drive. I had slackware running on it

        I did run Freesco Linux (cf Cisco) as a network hub and server*. No HD, booted off a 1.44 FD on a 386x20 with 16Mb RAM.

        * it allowed the 56Kb modem and the printer to be shared, ran NTP and a small web server plus some other stuff.

      2. bpfh

        Re: Old Linux ?

        486 DX2 66 with 4 meg ram, running OS/2 Warp 3 presentation manager, and running Word 6 in its integrated Windows 3.1 interface. And running what could be called “virtualised” today an ms-dos 1.1 image in a command shell. And MS-DOS 6.11 image in another command shell, and a Slackware image in a 3rd image in a command shell, though it did end up pulling a trap D when trying to boot a QNX image into the OS2 presentation manager...

      3. Alistair Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Old Linux ?

        @ PeterM

        Similar hardware, my mom gave me a copy of minix for christmas. Had a blast.

    3. fishman

      Re: Old Linux ?

      I ran SGI Irix 3.2 in 8MB of memory. 16MB was comfy.

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Old Linux ?

      "How many people remember the early days of Linux when it would run well on a 386 with 8MB ?"

      What's this 8MB shit? 4MB was the norm and for shits&giggles a friend and I managed to get SLS installed - and booting - on a 386sx16 laptop with 2MB memory (it swapped. A lot)

    5. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Linux actually is much more than what you'd need on such a device

      Essentially Android used a fully featured OS and cut it down PDA style. From a users point of view there is not even a filesystem left, and users are expected to "sync" their devices to cloud services, just like traditional PDAs had to be synced via special software.

      All the security mechanisms protect business models, not actual user security, so once we get rid of the malware store (and have something like Linux distributions have) we can get rid of that, essentially allowing users to become root on the devices they paid for.

      1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: Linux actually is much more than what you'd need on such a device

        > From a users point of view there is not even a filesystem left,

        Not true. just run one of the many file managers, such as 'Total Commander'.

        > users are expected to "sync" their devices to cloud services,

        They can if they wish, or they can connect to almost any desktop or laptop computer and backup to that.

        Have you actually used one of these devices or are you just using 'alternate facts' ?

  8. Wyrdness

    Waits for Poundland's lawyers to notice....

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-44311928

  9. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    Count me in!

    A <$100 device with a half-decent screen, phone, contacts, calendar, and maps, and maybe even a light-weight browser and an email client, and without all the storage-hogging stupid apps, from FB to Drive to Office to whatever, that I never use but can't remove without rooting / voiding warrantly / etc.?

    Hell, I'll pay cash! A camera is nice to have, but not mandatory.

    1. GIRZiM

      Re: Count me in!

      Yeah, until you discover that it's about as stable as Win95 (first edition) and even when it does work, everything is so slow that by the time you've managed to get a contact record up and call the number, the postcard you sent has already been delivered.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Count me in!

      "without all the storage-hogging stupid apps, from FB to Drive to Office to whatever, that I never use but can't remove without rooting / voiding warrantly "

      You can't remove them, but you can at least disable the fuckers.

  10. dch0ar
    FAIL

    Android garbage

    Three failings in Android. Why are apps so bloated? Why is it not possible to uninstall unwanted Google apps and why is the memory management so poor - memory leakage must be rampant?

    1. Oh Homer Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Android garbage

      Short answer: money.

      In fact I've found that the answer to most questions is money.

      The long answer would take several volumes, but without going into too much detail:

      • Android's obscene bloat is primarily due to Java, which is typically chosen so that people who aren't really software engineers can use point 'n drool toys to produce large volumes of crap very quickly, then sell it equally quickly (i.e. money)
      • Android has been deliberately designed with a "read only" mentality, for lots of reasons (all bad), but mostly to prevent you removing highly lucrative bundleware (i.e. money)
      • Memory management isn't poor on Android per se, it's just that it's such a bloated pig (including the apps) that you might just as well be running Windows. Moreover, Android apps are explicitly designed not to be closed. Ever. Everything on Android is a "service", mostly so it can spy on your every move and send "telemetry" back to the mothership for resale to spammers (i.e. money)
      The usual mantra pedalled by bloat apologists is "RAM is cheap", which ironically is no longer true, but even when it was, it was still an offensively stupid excuse.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Google said it had shaved an extra 500MB from the footprint of Go, leaving manufacturers with around 5.5GB free on an 8GB ROM."

    2.5 GB used up already? and this is supposed to be the 'basic' version?

    what the effin 'ell is in that 2.5 GB?

    1. bpfh

      Same question about windows 7...8....10...

  12. DougS Silver badge

    "Response to stripping Google" in favor of AOSP

    Does Google really believe OEMs selling low end phones are doing that due to the size of Android? They are doing because the margins on low end phones are zero (at best) and they can sell placement to others.

    China will never adopt Android Go, they will continue with AOSP Android phones with Google replaced by Baidu, Wechat, etc. who pay the OEMs for their inclusion.

    Even if the idea "Android is too big" was their issue, trimming it from 3 GB to 2.5 GB is hardly worthy of crowing about.

    1. GIRZiM
      Gimp

      Re: "Response to stripping Google" in favor of AOSP

      @DougS

      That's the most cynical thing I've read here in so long, that it's fair turned me 'ead and I think I may have a man-crush on you!

  13. Dave 15 Silver badge

    Nokia

    Nokia had clipper... basically a linux made from android... very very cut down :) All that superflous crud you dont need to make a phone call was gone

  14. cheb

    2.49 Gig of that is the pathway for completely turning off the tracking functions.

  15. cheb

    The pathway for completely turning off the tracking functions takes 2.49gb

  16. JohnFen Silver badge

    Small footprint?

    "Google said it had shaved an extra 500MB from the footprint of Go, leaving manufacturers with around 5.5GB free on an 8GB ROM."

    Good god, 2.5GB counts as a "small footprint" these days??

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