Besides Android and iOS, there’s KaiOS

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Besides Android and iOS, there’s KaiOS

July 12, 2021

What is KaiOS? Well, it may surprise you that Android and iOS aren’t the only mobile operating systems out there. Another operating system, launched just in 2017, is KaiOS. 

The KaiOS mobile operating system was developed by KaiOS Technologies in Hong Kong. It’s based on HTML5 and other open source technologies. 

Open-source technologies are software whose source code is published on platforms made available to the public. Anyone—tech whiz or beginner—can copy, modify and redistribute the source code without paying royalties or fees. 

Open-source technology evolves through community cooperation. Think of it like the stone soup folktale. Everyone adds in whatever ingredients they have to make a good soup.

What open-source technologies mean for KaiOS 

KaiOS is therefore a simple operating system and has less processing power. It doesn’t have to deal with more than one app at a time, for instance. 

Smartphones today have multiple processors, which let them juggle many apps and programs at once. Feature phones like KaiOS devices only have one processor. Think of it as having a much smaller brain.

Many smart feature phones (read more about ‘smart’ feature phones here) are choosing KaiOS as the operating system. The operating system offers access to some of the most popular digital services like Whatsapp, Youtube, Facebook, Google Assistant and Google Maps, which come preloaded in the device. 

Digital connectivity for the world

In their press release, KaiOS describes it as their mission to “open up new possibilities for individuals, organisations and society by bringing about mobile connectivity to the billions of people without internet in emerging markets, as well as providing those in established markets with an alternative to smartphones.” (Read about how KaiOS empowers new internet users

Collage view with 3rdParty Apps
KaiOS smart feature phones are pre-installed with popular apps like Whatsapp, Youtube and Facebook, as well as Google Assistant and Google Maps.

This doesn’t sound like marketing spiel. KaiOS made TIME magazine’s Best Inventions for 2019 in the Social Good category. That same year, it also won the Changing Lives Award at AfricaCom. And the next year, it was the winner at the industry association awards for global mobile network operators, GSMA’s Global Mobile (GLOMO) Awards 2020, in the category of Best Mobile Technology Breakthrough. So it’s a good thing that over 100 million KaiOS devices are now in use in Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia and Europe.

Why we at Spudniklab like the idea of KaiOS so much is because we’re committed to helping people gain digital access too. Especially for underprivileged individuals and communities, digital access can be a profound socio-economic leveler. Being able to access the internet unlocks infinite opportunities for education, knowledge acquisition, personal and business financial planning, and the cascading effects of an improved quality of life those opportunities bring. 




Today’s reality however, is that about 4 billion people live without access to the internet. Most often they are limited by a lack of means, digital infrastructure, or both. SpudnikLab exists to help bridge the digital divide (the gap between the digital access haves and have-nots) through low-cost innovation and appropriate technology. We think the folks who created KaiOS (KaiOS Technologies), are doing something fantastic by enabling people to connect to the internet, and we can’t wait to see all the good that will yield moving forward.

In our next post… the nifty thing in KaiOS phones that opens up an entire universe!  




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