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Google Invests in KaiOS to Develop ‘Smart’ Feature Phones

KaiOS Technologies, developer of an operating system for ‘smart’ feature phones, announced a USD 22 million Series A investment from Google to help develop its software for low-end mobile phones.

KaiOS works with manufacturers such as TCL (Alcatel, BlackBerry), HMD Global (Nokia) and Micromax and has partnerships with carriers such as Reliance Jio, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile. These partners produce affordable devices that include essential functionalities like apps, GPS, LTE and Wi-Fi. The Kai team operates out of offices around the world, including San Diego, Hong Kong, Taipei, Shanghai, Paris and Bangalore.

In addition to the investment, Google and KaiOS have agreed to work together to make the Google Assistant, Google Maps, YouTube and Google Search available to KaiOS users. These apps have been developed specifically for the KaiOS platform, which is entirely web-based, using open standards such as HTML5, JavaScript and CSS.Google said it was impressed by the success of the JioPhone, a low-cost device launched by the Indian operator Jio and running the KaiOS software. By working with the company, Google can ensure its apps are available to more people with low-end devices.

KaiOS said it’s aim is to help reduce the digital divide by making internet-enabled phones available to more people. Its other recent designs include the Nokia 8110 ‘banana phone’, first unveiled at Mobile World Congress this year.  – Telecompaper

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