Jio Reliance's JioPhone is the first feature phone to receive support for the Google Assistant, the Indian division of the Alphabet-owned company announced Tuesday. The new version of the firm's artificial intelligence companion is officially launching in India today and supports both English and Hindi, marking the first expansion of the Google Assistant to devices that aren't generally considered "smart." While the newly introduced service is a heavily streamlined revision of the actual Google Assistant, its core functionality is still here, with the platform being meant to provide users with a highly intuitive method for searching the World Wide Web. Voice-enabled queries and support for countless data services are just one of many reasons Google believes its new offering will prove to be useful to Indian consumers, with the company suggesting that many functionalities found in the initial feature phone port of the Google Assistant were designed for first-time Internet users.
Among other things, JioPhone owners can have the Google Assistant help them send text messages, make phone calls, search the Internet, play multimedia files, and launch any apps they might have installed on their device. The Mountain View, California-based tech giant didn't provide many details on how the new iteration of the Google Assistant came to be and it remains to be seen what its practical limits are. The wording of the company's announcement indicates that Internet of Things compatibility isn't part of the package, i.e. the newly introduced service likely can't be used for controlling one's smart home devices.
The KaiOS powering the JioPhone has a proven track record with voice-enabled assistants as it already features support for Jio's own HelloJio. The operating system itself is essentially a fork of Firefox OS that's not only used by Jio but has also been featured on Alcatel's OneTouch Go Flip and the Intex-made Turbo+ 4G. It's currently unclear whether other KaiOS-powered offerings will eventually receive Google Assistant support and if Google is looking into more feature phone candidates that could host its digital companion. The new revision of the Google Assistant was announced at Google India's latest New Delhi event which also saw the introduction of Android Oreo (Go Edition) for low-end mobile devices.