KaiOS, the operating system running on Nokia feature phones, announced a $22 million investment from Google. It’s somewhat odd to see Google invest in an OS that’s not Android, but the partnership will see several Google services ported over to KaiOS.
Google will also be ensuring that apps like Google Assistant, Google Maps, YouTube, and Google Search appear on KaiOS. The announcement says that these will be built specifically for the platform, and will be web based. Curiously, this suggests that feature phones will eventually include a voice assistant.
For the most part, KaiOS is seen in Nokia phones like the new 8110. These feature phones don’t have the capacity to run most apps, and cater to a market that is outside the reach of Android.
Despite this, Google has also been trying to slim down the Android OS for developing nations. The company has not one, but two separate branches for Android in mind; with both Android Go and Android One being pushed to the public.
KaiOS itself is built on the failed Firefox OS, being featured on budget devices from Nokia, Micromax, and Alcatel. We don’t usually talk about feature phones, but there is still a market for them. Especially in places with poor cellular reception or low income areas.