Google Maps, YouTube, & Assistant coming to smart feature phones running KaiOS like Reliance’s JioPhone
KaiOS is a Linux-based mobile operating system that is forked from Boot 2 Gecko (B2G), an open-source community-driven successor of the now extinct Firefox OS (which was discontinued by Mozilla in 2016). It’s made for smart feature phones. Smart feature phones are a new class of feature phones that have limited memory and processing power, but that are still able to offer a better user experience than feature phones powered by older platforms such as S30+. The most widely known example of a KaiOS-powered phone is the JioPhone, which was launched in India as a smart 4G VoLTE feature phone.
The JioPhone’s specifications includes the Qualcomm 205 platform, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of storage expandable with a microSD card, 2.4-inch display, and a 2000mAh battery. It has received Google Assistant support. The Nokia 8110 4G is another smart feature phone is also powered by KaiOS.
The announcement came alongside Google’s announcement of monetary investment in KaiOS. KaiOS states that it works closely with manufacturers like TCL, HMD Global, and Micromax. It has partnerships with carriers such as Reliance Jio, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile. The partners produce affordable feature phones that are generally cheaper than smartphones, while including functionality such as (limited) apps, GPS, 4G LTE, and Wi-Fi.
“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. “Following the success of the JioPhones, we are excited to work with KaiOS to further improve access to information for feature phone users around the world.”
“We’re excited to work with Google to deliver its services on more mobile devices,” continued Sebastien Codeville. “Having an intelligent voice assistant on an affordable mobile phone is truly revolutionary as it helps overcome some of the limitations a keypad brings.”
In particular, the availability of Google Maps as a specific app can have the potential to improve the user experience of KaiOS-powered feature phones. However, this depends on the functionality of the app.