As more schools transition to the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) model of technology use, teachers may be seeing students try to use their own inexpensive Android phones that don’t pack quite as much punch as might be needed. They may be unable to run the latest, most powerful apps, which could cause problems in the classroom. The answer to this dilemma is to “go lite” with some brand new, lite versions of Google tools that have just launched.
The Lite Movement
When Facebook came out with lite versions of their Facebook and Messenger apps on Android, I found myself wondering, “How much better will they work?” Microsoft joined in with Skype Lite, built for Android phones in India. Microsoft describes their Skype Lite in this way:
It is small, fast, and capable. It lets you send free text messages and make voice & video calls even under limited network conditions.
Small. Fast. Capable. Those three words define the lite experience. After spending some time with each, I find they are less clunky than the full app. Indeed, they are faster. This makes them perfect for any Android phone or tablet, such as Samsung and Amazon Fire, that may need apps with less of a footprint. While lite apps are available, you may also see web-based versions (such as Twitter Lite) that streamline their interface for speed.
How to Get Lite Apps
Now that you’ve decided to shed a few apps, you may need to get your phone ready. If you’re running the Android Oreo operating system, you won’t encounter too many problems (approve app each time). For any operating system before that, take these three steps to allow app installations from outside the Google Play Store:
- Go to the Settings app.
- Select Security.
- Toggle Unknown sources to On.
That’s it! You are now able to access popular apps. That includes Google tools like YouTube Go, Files Go, Android Go, and, just announced, Gmail Go. In this blog entry, we’ll discuss three of the Go family.
Note: If you or your students get the “No eligible devices” message, you may need to first install a no-cost virtual private network (VPN) like Windscribe or Tunnelbear. Then, change your location to an eligible country before visiting the Google Play Store. And don’t worry; the process is easier than you may think.
Google Tool #1 – YouTube Go
Although launched for India first, YouTube Go has now became eligible for use in 130 more countries. Watch the short video below for an overview:
The app does the following:
- Lets you preview videos prior to viewing.
- Gets videos to watch when not connected.
- Selects your video resolution.
- Adjusts data consumption.
- Shares several videos with others nearby.
This lightweight app may be just what you and your students’ devices need.
Google Tool #2 – Files Go
According to Google Play, Files Go “recommends rarely-used apps to remove,” “recognizes and helps you get rid of spam & duplicate images,” “helps you find your important photos, videos, and documents faster,” and “makes it easy to share your files offline — quickly and securely”. Source: MakeUseOf.com
Ready to get your personal assistant to clean your Android phone? Use Files Go.
Google Tool #3 – Gmail Go
Like everyone else, I have a love/hate relationship with email. It is incessant, requires repeat visits, and attracts junk. Gmail Go brings together some popular features, such as these points Google uses to describe it:
- Gmail Go blocks spam before it hits your inbox.
- Gmail Go offers multiple account support (Gmail, Outlook.com, Yahoo Mail, or other IMAP/POP email)
There are many other apps that allow you or your students to go lite. Keep your eyes open for them since they can make room for more important, creative apps your students need to participate in class.
Update: This blog has been updated on 4/23/2019 to reflect revised mobile VPN services.