Google and Jio Platforms said that work is progressing on their jointly developed made-for-India smartphone, adding that the release date is set for Friday, September 10, according to a Thursday (June 24) press release. The concept is to provide an affordable phone that will meet the needs of millions of Indians.
The companies said in the release that the phone, called JioPhone Next, will be based on an “optimized” version of Google’s Android operating system. Jio is a majority-owned subsidiary of India’s Reliance Industries.
Google and Jio’s “teams have optimized a version of our Android OS especially for this device,” said Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google and Alphabet. He added that the smartphone “will offer language and translation features, a great camera, and support for the latest Android updates. It is built for India and it will open up new possibilities for millions of new users who will experience the internet for the very first time.”
The “Google and Jio teams have jointly developed a truly breakthrough smartphone,” said Mukesh Ambani, Reliance’s chairman and managing director. “While being ultra-affordable, JioPhone Next is packed with cutting-edge features.” These include the Google Assistant, automatic read-aloud of screen text, language translation and a camera with “augmented reality” features.
The phone will allow users to take in content in a choice of Indian languages, which vary widely across the subcontinent.
Last September, Reliance said the goal for the new cellphone was to offer its phone-service customers a low-cost version of the Jio smartphone for $54.
At the time, Google was also buying a $4.5 billion stake in Jio, or about 8 percent of the tech company. Jio already had about 400 million Indian subscribers then, or more than 35 percent of the market. It also has a music-streaming service called JioSaavn and a streaming TV business called JioTV.
In March, Reliance reportedly was looking to link up with Facebook and Google in a bid to get a digital payments license from the Reserve Bank of India to serve the country’s growing eCommerce market.