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What just happened? The Android mobile operating system has come a long way over the years. And, as with so many other types of software, the minimum device requirements for running the OS have continued increasing. For Android 13, Google has raised those minimum requirements once again.
Android 13 left its lengthy beta and preview phase and started landing on Pixel phones back in August. It's welcome news for consumers who always like to be on the latest version, but many phone users in developing counties will likely be affected by the operating system's updated requirements.
Google writes that users of Android Go, the low-power version of Android built for entry-level smartphones, will require at least 2GB of RAM if they want to jump to Android 13. That's a 1GB increase compared to Android 11 and Android 12 (Go Edition) requirements. Android 8 to 10, meanwhile, required just 512MB.
Although it's not mentioned in Google's post, Esper's Mishaal Rahman and Google Product Expert Jason Bayton (via Ars Technica) write that the minimum storage requirements have also increased, to 16GB.
Small bit of news here: Google is upping the minimum hardware requirements that handheld devices must meet in order to be able to bundle GMS.— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) September 7, 2022
Now, all handheld devices launching with Android 13+ must have at least 2GB of RAM and 16GB of flash storage in order to preload GMS. https://t.co/fDppuhlfoW
The change is unlikely to affect anyone in the countries such as the US, where you'll struggle to find phones packing less than 2GB of RAM or 16GB of storage. But Google notes that more than 250 million people are running Android Go, and with big OEMs like Jio, Samsung, Oppo, and Realme building Android Go devices, there is a need for developers to build apps that perform well on these handsets.
Any phones that don't meet these new minimum requirements won't be able to upgrade to Android 13, while new handsets launching with Android 13 will need to meet them to be eligible for Play Store licensing.
Ars notes that if Google decides to expand the minimum requirements across the entire Android ecosystem, the change would cover non-mobile devices such as smart TVs, which don't always have at least 16GB of storage. Chromecast with Google TV, for example, only has 8GB. That's good news for users who have been unable to update their apps because of the limited amount of space.