In India and many more developing nations around the world, the feature phone market happens to be much larger than the smartphone market. Feature phones do not run the Android OS, which means that most of the Google services don’t work on them and this is a problem for the Mountain View-based tech giant. However, it looks like Google is finally doing something about it.
Google has just invested $22 million into a feature phone operating system, KaiOS. As part of this deal, KaiOS will be including Google services like search, maps, YouTube and its voice assistant into more of its devices. For those who are not aware, KaiOS is the operating system which is used in the JioPhone and also on some other popular handsets like the Nokia 8810 Banana phone.
KaiOS CEO Sebastien Codeville said in a 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.”
As a matter of fact, KaiOS, largely thanks to the JioPhone, has now become the second largest operating system in India, overtaking iOS. As per the company, there are more than 40 million KaiOS phones shipped to-date.
“Having an intelligent voice assistant on an affordable mobile phone is truly revolutionary as it helps overcome some of the limitations a keypad brings,” says Codeville. Google’s investment will most certainly lead to more feature phone users access Google’s services and realise its benefits. KaiOS has already added apps for Twitter and Facebook and it is being said that support for WhatsApp also be available soon.