Story so far: While Android and iOS are two of the most well known mobile operating systems, a new Indian contender in the sector is BharOS. It is developed by the IIT Madras-incubated company JandK Operations Private Limited. Funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the indigenous mobile operating system wants to cater to the approximately 100 crore mobile phone users in India, according to an IIT Madras press release on January 19.
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What is BharOS?
It is an indigenous, or homegrown, mobile operating system (OS), like Android or iOS. These systems help smartphone users interact with their device and access its features, while ensuring safety. BharOS, in particular, is meant to be a contribution towards the idea of a self-reliant India or ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ by creating a secure OS environment for India-based users.
The OS can be installed on commercial off-the-shelf handsets, stated the IIT Madras press release.
How is it different from Google’s OS?
BharOS is being viewed as an Android rival with greater focus on app customisation. While Android and iOS serve more commercial and consumer-oriented use cases, BharOS appears to be more specialised and is still in limited use at the moment.
A slide from the presentation during which BharOS was launched showed screenshots of the OS. These featured a minimalistic home screen with the Indian flag, a list of app categories, and selected apps such as DuckDuckGo and Signal, which had passed the OS’ trust and security standards.
BharOS would offer Native Over The Air (NOTA) updates, meaning that security updates and bug fixes will be automatically installed rather than users having to check for updates and implementing them on their own, confirmed Karthik Ayyar, Director, JandK Operations Pvt Ltd.
Are Google’s apps included?
BharOS comes with the No Default Apps (NDA) setting, meaning that users do not have to keep or use pre-installed apps in this mobile operating system, according to IIT Madras.
NDA is key as many pre-installed apps that currently ship with other smartphones can slow down the device or take a toll on battery life by acting as bloatware.
Going with an NDA design for BharOS was intentional as it will let users have more control over the apps on their mobile phones based on the user’s trust in the app and the kind of data they store on their phone, IIT Madras explained.
Furthermore, BharOS will use a system known as Private App Store Services (PASS), which will examine and curate the apps that are safe for the users. This means that users should be able to use other apps, as long as they meet BharOS’ PASS standards.
When will BharOS be available?
IIT Madras stated that BharOS was serving organisations that have “stringent privacy and security requirements” as their users handled sensitive information, meaning their mobile devices needed to be extra secure and vetted carefully for potentially malicious or unnecessary apps.
“Such users require access to private cloud services through private 5G networks,” stated IIT Madras in its release.
However, there is no official date disclosed yet for when mainstream users will be able to access and install BharOS. There is also no official information about when BharOS will be available on Android/iOS app stores and smartphones.
- While Android and iOS are two of the most well known mobile operating systems, a new Indian contender in the sector is BharOS
- While Android and iOS serve more commercial and consumer-oriented use cases, BharOS appears to be more specialised and is still in limited use at the moment
- BharOS comes with the No Default Apps (NDA) setting, meaning that users do not have to keep or use pre-installed apps in this mobile operating system, according to IIT Madras