Google has announced an investment of $22 million in KaiOS, the operating system that powers Jio Phone and other low-budget smartphones to make them capable of handling smart features. KaiOS is a toned down version of Mozilla’s Firefox OS that was introduced a few years back on some phones but could not make a mark. The $20 million investment is a part of Group A funding led by Google to help the platform reach more devices and grow exponentially. This means that KaiOS may soon get support for Google apps such as YouTube, Google App, Google Maps, Gmail, and others.
The first hint to the arrival of Google apps on KaiOS was when HMD Global announced earlier this year that the Nokia 8110 4G, which is also based on KaiOS, would gain support for them. While Nokia 8110 4G is yet to launch in India, another phone that is the currently the highest selling feature phone in Q1, as per Counterpoint Research’s data, is Jio Phone.
Jio Phone was launched in India last year, aimed at offering smartphone-like features in the low price spectrum. The handset is effectively free in India, with some fine print including a refundable security money and monthly tariff plans. With the investment foraying into the KaiOS, Jio Phone may soon get many Android-like apps. It was previously rumoured that WhatsApp may arrive on Jio Phone, however, it didn’t seem happening as one of the engineers working on WhatsApp denied any such information.
“We want to ensure that Google apps and services are available to everyone, whether they are using desktops, smartphones, or feature phones,” said Anjali Joshi, Vice-President, Product Management, Next Billion Users, in the joint statement. “This funding will help us fast-track development and global deployment of KaiOS-enabled smart feature phones, allowing us to connect the vast population that still cannot access the Internet, especially in emerging markets,” said Sebastien Codeville, CEO of KaiOS Technologies. – Financial Express