Google has revealed a new program called Android One which will specify a set of hardware and software guidelines for device makers to adhere to if they wish to attain official ‘Android One’ status.

Announced today at Google’s I/O conference, Android One guidelines are open to all device makers but are really intended to help cut down on the cost and time required to build an affordable smartphone in a short space of time.

googleio 2014 104 730x486 Google announces Android One standard for affordable devices, arriving first in India at under $100

For the end user, Android One will mean a more unified Android experience free from manufacturer’s own skins, like TouchWiz or Sense, fewer pre-installed apps and timely software updates. Essentially, the software will be plain Android, but will include the option for OEMs to include locally relevant software tweaks.

It’s a smart move from Google. One of the biggest criticisms of Android historically has been the fragmented software and hardware around the platform, particularly at the lower end of the value chain. By ensuring that certain devices are in keeping with minimum specifications, the company can guarantee a similar level of performance and customers won’t feel let down by sub-par devices or overzealous software tweaks.

The first devices are set to arrive in India from manufacturers like Micromax and Karbonn and will start from less than $100. Micromax’s first device will offer a 4.5-inch display, dual-SIM slots and support for SD cards.

Check out our liveblog and Google I/O 2014 page to keep up with all the latest announcements from the event.