Jio Phone was launched with much fanfare last year, promising to revolutionising the feature phone market as the company's telecom operations had upended the industry. However, the Jio Phone platform does not have access to some of the most widely used apps in India. These include messaging app WhatsApp and video streaming website YouTube. Even Facebook was a late entrant to the platform, becoming available to Jio Phone users roughly six months after it was announced. Now, however, Jio has announced that both WhatsApp and YouTube will be available for download via the Jio App Store starting August 15, the same day Jio Phone 2 hits the market.
This comes after Google introduced Google Assistant support earlier, and saw a 6-fold growth in usage in just 4 weeks. As mentioned above, Facebook made its app available on Jio Phone earlier in February. Reliance Jio Directors Akash and Isha Ambani demonstrated how WhatsApp and YouTube will work on the two phones with the help of voice command and text. Though these are especially made for the handset, Reliance Jio claims that both the apps will work in similar ways as they do on Android and iOS operating systems.
With the help of voice command, the apps open on the Jio Phone. For YouTube, asking for the "Sanju teaser" through voice command started playing the asked video on the screen. For WhatsApp, a user can type the message, and the recipient will receive a notification just how it does on Android and iOS devices. Akash Ambani also mentioned that Jio Phone and Jio Phone 2 users will be able to send WhatsApp messages to both iOS and Android users as well. It is still unclear whether all features that are available for WhatsApp and YouTube users on Android and iOS will make it to Jio Phone or not.
“The three most popular apps YouTube, WhatsApp and Facebook will be available to all the Jio Phone users from 15th August,” Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani said. “With the added functionalities, our wider network reach across India and strong retail presence across India, the goal that I have now set for our Jio team is to enable 100 million users on this Jio Phone platform in the shortest possible time,” he added.
In any case, the support for these two popular apps will be monumental for feature phone users, who couldn't use WhatsApp or Facebook so far on their devices. As mentioned, there are about 25 million Jio Phone users in India, and access to these social apps will be revolutionary for bringing about a digital change in the remotest villages of the country.
The company also launched the Jio Phone 2 at a price of Rs. 2,999, but existing Jio Phone users can get it exchanged for just Rs. 501. The new feature phone has a QWERTY keypad, a BlackBerry-like overall design, and a 2000mAh battery as well. Reliance also announced Jio GigaFiber, the company's FTTH home broadband solution. Jio's broadband services would be made available in 1,100 cities in the country, and registrations will begin on August 15 from the MyJio app and Jio.com. Lastly, Ambani revealed that Reliance Jio now has over 215 million active connections in just about 22 months of launch.
Is Jio Phone 2 the perfect smart feature phone for the masses? 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.