Google plans to introduce a low-cost smartphone for emerging markets in an effort to connect the next billion.

The announcement was made at the company’s annual I/O Conference in San Francisco.

“There are many people – billions of people, in fact – who still don’t have access to a smartphone. We want to change that; so today we announced an important initiative called Android One,” it said.

Google says the phone, which will be priced sub-US$100, will be released in India later this year, with more countries to follow.

“We’ve long wondered what potential could be unleashed if people everywhere had access to the latest technology and the world’s information. It’s time to find out,” the company said.