India demos monopoly-busting national mobile OS • The Register


Just a week after an Indian government official teased the possibility that the country could create its own mobile operating system to challenge the dominance of Google and Apple, Education Minister and Skills Development and Entrepreneurship Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has revealed that such an operating system is working and endorses it it is as the kind of India should do.

The operating system is called BharOS and was announced last week by the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

The operating system reportedly comes with no preloaded apps and does not share any user data. Only private app stores work with the operating system.

Pradhan claimed that the operating system cannot run malware, without further elaboration.

JANDKOPS – the think tank incubated at IIT Madras that created the operating system – claims it is ideal for users who want to access private clouds over private 5G networks.

Pradhan praised the OS’s potential to break the monopoly, while other speakers at the launch suggested that it could be ideal for use by the Indian government as it is customizable.

Officials demonstrated the operating system using a pair of unspecified handsets, which successfully performed a video-all.

It is reportedly based on the Linux kernel, but few details have been revealed otherwise. Screenshots posted by JANDKOPS show the Android keyboard app on one screen, a shortcut to the DuckDuckGo search engine, plus design elements that will look very familiar to users of Google’s mobile operating system.

The JANDKOPS site states that the operating system is “currently being delivered to organizations that have strict security and privacy requirements,” strongly suggesting that it is already in use.

When The register discussing India’s operating system ambitions last week, we reported that a planned operating system was called IndOS. BharOS is an equivalent name as Bharat is the name of India in some of the country’s many languages.

Officials at the event hailed the operating system as contributing to AtmaNirbhar Bharat’s self-sufficiency drive in India, adding that the country also needs to develop semiconductors, electronics manufacturing and other areas if it wants to deliver a homegrown mobile ecosystem. They also mentioned the need to get developers excited about BharOS before reiterating that India will continue to work towards technical independence.

That statement comes as Google fights a few antitrust cases in India. National competition authorities are pushing for major changes to the Android ecosystem to prevent the advertising giant from dominating the mobile market.

In recent weeks, the antitrust case was defended by Rohan Verma, CEO of MapmyIndia, who alleged that Google is making it difficult for Indian residents to access its company’s apps and the fine details of the rural Indian areas they offer.

Verma is an outspoken supporter of India’s legal action against Google.

India has a love-hate relationship with Google. On the one hand, AtmaNirbhar Bharat tries to create local alternatives to Big Tech and local sentiment opposes the market power of offshore companies.

On the other hand, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai – an Indian expatriate – in December 2022 as he promised more investment in India and unveiled more localized Google services. ®

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