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Google invests $22 million in kaiOS; will build versions of certain Google apps for the platform



It seems that failed mobile operating systems often get a second chance. Despite impressing many smartphone fanatics with its gesture based navigation, Nokia went one and done with MeeGo, which was offered on 2011's Nokia N9. While Nokia was looking for a more modern OS to replace Symbian, then-CEO Stephen Elop decided to go with Microsoft's Windows Phone platform and jettisoned MeeGo, which later evolved into Jolla's Sailfish OS.

Now, the mobile platform once known as Firefox OS is also getting a second chance. Mozilla dropped Firefox OS in May 2016, and a forked version has been created named kaiOS. This happens to be the operating system used by Nokia for its feature phones, such as the banana shaped Nokia 8110. Other manufacturers employing kaiOS include India's Reliance and China's TCL. Handsets produced by these partners can be considered "smart" feature phones that include apps, GPS, 4G LTE connectivity and Wi-Fi.  U.S. carriers supporting the OS include Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile.

Today, KaiOS Technologies Inc. announced that Google has invested $22 million in the company during a Series A investment round. In addition, Google and KaiOS said that they would work together to create versions of popular Google apps like Google Assistant, Google Maps, YouTube, and Google Search for kaiOS powered handsets. Google's apps would be developed using HTML5, CSS and JavaScript; they will be created specifically for the kaiOS web based platform. This could lead to greater sales globally for low priced feature phones that offer some smartphone functionality.

Already, Google Assistant has been loaded on the kaiOS powered Reliance JioPhone feature phone. While core features are available, some of the more advanced features are missing. You can check out the official demo of Google Assistant on the JioPhone by clicking on the video at the top of the article.

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