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Mozilla and KaiOS' new partnership may result in a better future for feature phones

Mozilla will update KaiOS in fundamental and vital ways soon. (Credit: TechAltar via YouTube)
Mozilla will update KaiOS in fundamental and vital ways soon. (Credit: TechAltar via YouTube)
Phones that run neither Android nor iOS have been falling behind in terms of their browser and web-based support. Mozilla and KaiOS (the mobile platform most likely to run on such devices) have addressed this through a new partnership by which the former will keep devices running the latter much more up to date in their ability to use the internet.
Deirdre O Donnell,

Most consumers asked to name as many mobile device operating systems as possible might start off with iOS and Android, then trail off into vague mumbling after that. However, there are more platforms out there besides the big 2. KaiOS is widely regarded as the next one down: it is strongly associated with feature-phones and extreme budget phones, approximately 100 million of which it runs on worldwide.

This mobile ecosystem has accrued so much relative success and popularity that it now has dedicated versions of mobile Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. Like many aspects of this OS, they are web-based, meaning a developer just needs things like HTML and Javascript to build apps for it. However, this theoretical advantage had become a patard on which KaiOS became hoist.

This is due to the web engine the system has historically incorporated. It is Mozilla's Gecko, but a long-outdated, pre-Quantum version of the same. It rendered KaiOS incompatible with new standards and tech such as WebGL, meaning sites got less and less functional on this system without specific customizations, leaving it increasingly vulnerable to stagnation and ultimate irrelevance.

However, Mozilla and KaiOS have now reportedly collaborated in order to remedy this situation. The YouTuber TechAltar claims to have been exclusively informed that the latter will become based on Firefox extended security releases (ESRs) in the future: for example, its upcoming update (3.0) will be based on ESR 78. KaiOS would then push this upgrade to the manufacturers with which it works, which include Nokia and those OEMs that supply feature phones to carriers.

ESRs are Mozilla's frequently-updated browser versions with enterprise-grade stability and security. Therefore, this new partnership may represent a radical upgrade for KaiOS in terms of being able to use the web, not to mention its in-built browser.

On that note, it is pretty easy to see how this app's maker benefits from the arrangement: it could put mobile Firefox in the hands of millions of new users going forward, thus potentially increasing its market share - which was less than 1% at the end of 2019. TechAltar estimates that this overhaul of KaiOS will start to take effect in 2021.


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Deirdre O'Donnell
Deirdre O'Donnell - Senior Tech Writer - 5109 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2018
I became a professional writer and editor shortly after graduation. My degrees are in biomedical sciences; however, they led to some experience in the biotech area, which convinced me of its potential to revolutionize our health, environment and lives in general. This developed into an all-consuming interest in more aspects of tech over time: I can never write enough on the latest electronics, gadgets and innovations. My other interests include imaging, astronomy, and streaming all the things. Oh, and coffee.
contact me via: LinkedIn
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 03 > Mozilla and KaiOS' new partnership may result in a better future for feature phones
Deirdre O Donnell, 2020-03-13 (Update: 2020-03-13)