Google may be working on a “touchless” Android OS for feature phones
Even though Android is the most popular mobile operating system in the world, running on smartphones, tablets, and many other kinds of devices, there is one market that it has never penetrated: feature phones. These kinds of devices are very popular in developing countries as they offer a minimal set of features capable of communication. These features often are calling, messaging, 3G, and sometimes WiFi, too. Apparently, Google is going to try its luck in that segment by introducing a “touchless” version of Android.
9to5Google noticed a new commit which suggests that there is a new version of Android in the works. They were able to retrieve two screenshots. They show a version of Chrome which can be easily controlled by physical buttons. But, there is something more interesting in the screenshots. In the status bar, you can see Android Oreo‘s system icon, suggesting that this particular version of Chrome runs on Android 8.1-based “touchless” system. If it was not for the icon, we would simply think that Google is working on a “touchless” version of the Chrome browser. You can see the screenshots below.
As of why Google is developing the system on top of Android Oreo and not Android Pie or Android Q, we have absolutely no idea. I looked into the code and it doesn’t say much, either. It might be just for the testing purposes, but using a two years old version of the system is still weird. It looks like KaiOS, the most popular feature-phone operating system is gaining a new competitor. This is something that could be announced at Google I/O next month, but no one knows for sure what is in Google’s mind.