KaiOS, a feature phone saviour

Axenous
Axenous
Dec 28, 2019 · 3 min read

KaiOS, a recently developed OS which has surpassed iOS to be the second most popular mobile operating system in India. And in this article, we will try to shed some light on what got KaiOS to this sweet spot in just two years after its release.

What is KaiOS?

KaiOS is a new revolutionary lightweight OS developed to run on basic low cost devices which are powered by minimum specifications; mainly non-touch phones.

The Internet as we know today is still beyond the grasp of billions of humans residing in under-developed and developing nations. Moreover, developments of OSs for mid-end and high-end smartphones has always been a talk of the town. Due to which internet and its advantages always failed to reach the audience with low-budget phones. KaiOS justs tries to fill in this void. Targeted at people mostly residing in the rural or under-developed areas, KaiOS plans to bring internet access and smartphone-like features to the low-end devices. It is mainly designed for non-touch phones. Contrary to the nature of devices on which it runs, KaiOS provides a well-polished and well-developed user experience as well as supports features like Wi-Fi, NFC, LTE broadcast, FOTA update and network quality monitoring which are normally seen only on high-end devices.

KaiOS is developed on a fork of Mozilla’s discontinued open-source . To understand KaiOS we first have to look into the working of Firefox OS for a better understanding.

Firefox OS, the predecessor

Firefox OS mainly had a browser, designed to look like an OS, running on a Linux Kernel, and all the web applications running inside that browser pretending to be native apps. The applications were built using open-standards and approaches like HTML, CSS and JavaScript and used APIs to communicate directly with the underlying hardware.

After abandoning the Firefox OS due to failing in getting a good exposure, Mozilla open-sourced the whole code which was later on forked and modified to work seamlessly on non-touch keypad phones and this is how KaiOS was born.

KaiOS, the present

KaiOS follows the same methodology as of the Firefox OS i.e. the applications are web apps developed using HTML5 with CSS and Javascript and they don’t even need any wrappers to run. This reduces the overhead coding required to develop any application for KaiOS.

KaiOS supports a variety of applications including WhatsApp, YouTube, Google Maps, Facebook, Twitter as well as Google search through Google Assistant. There is even an app store called KaiStore from where you can download and install apps to your phone.

Google has backed KaiOS with an investment of 22 million dollars and Reliance has invested another 7 million dollars recently. KaiOS is the second most favoured mobile OS in India after Android. As of January 2019, KaiOS holds 4.99% of the total Indian market as compared to 2.74% held by iOS. This is quite astonishing for something that is launched just 2 years ago. Majority of the success of KaiOS credits to JioPhone from India. Along with JioPhone KiaOS is available on feature phones from Alcatel, Nokia, Doro, Maxcom, WizPhone, MTN etc. KaiOS Technologies has also partnered with some of the big giants viz. Airfind, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Bullitt, Doro, HMD Global, Micromax, NXP, Spreadtrum, Qualcomm, Jio, Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile.

For something so young and hitting such a milestone only means that it deserves some recognition. We tried our part.

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