After much anticipation, WhatsApp for Jio Phone has officially arrived. The app, which was initially planned to debut on KaiOS-based Jio Phone on August 15, is now rolling out through the JioStore. WhatsApp on late Monday confirmed the latest release and said that the app will be rolled out for all Jio Phone users by September 20. Users can download the specially-designed WhatsApp version on their Jio Phone and Jio Phone 2 handsets by visiting the JioStore. Notably, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) announced the imminent arrival of WhatsApp alongside a YouTube version at its 41st Annual General Meeting (AGM) back in July.
Similar to its versions for Android and iPhone, WhatsApp for Jio Phone is claimed to have end-to-end encryption. The app also lets users record and send voice messages. Users can also hold conversations in groups. However, it doesn't allow users to directly make voice and video calls. The app also doesn't allow users to make payments - one of the key features that recently came on Android and iPhone devices, albeit in beta form.
To download WhatsApp on your Jio Phone, go to JioStore from the menu and then find WhatsApp from the listing. Now, press the Install option to begin the installation. You need to make sure that your Jio Phone is running the latest software in order to operate WhatsApp. Additionally, you need to verify your phone number to get started with the instant messaging app.
We were able to install the WhatsApp app on our Jio Phone from the AppStore. The app however asked us to download a system update upon its installation, one that wasn't available at the time of filing this story. We were thus in able to use WhatsApp on our Jio Phone, but expect such the mentioned system update to roll out in the near future. We've reached out to Jio and WhatsApp for clarification, and will update this space when we hear back.
"Millions of people across India can now use WhatsApp private messaging on the best-in-class JioPhone across India," said Chris Daniels, Vice President, WhatsApp, in a press statement while announcing the release. "By designing this new app for KaiOS, we hope to expand the ability for people to communicate with anyone in India and around the world by offering the best messaging experience possible to Jio Phone users."
WhatsApp already has over 200 million monthly active users in India. This user base is likely to reach new heights with the debut of WhatsApp on Jio Phone that is so far leading in the market of feature phones in the country.
"We will be providing WhatsApp, the most used chat application in the world, on all Jio Phones starting today," said Akash Ambani, Director, Reliance Jio Infocomm, in the statement. "Jio wants to thank the Facebook and WhatsApp team for making this happen."
Back in February, Facebook launched its dedicated app for Jio Phone users. Google also brought Google Assistant for Jio Phone in December. The search giant also recently released a special Google Maps version as well as started rolling out a dedicated YouTube app for the affordable feature phone that runs Firefox OS-powered KaiOS.
Will Jio Phone 2 help WhatsApp, YouTube reach the next billion users in India? We discussed that on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.