Company updates

How the Life app is changing lives around the world

The Life app by KaiOS has made quite an impact in its first year. Released in February 2019 in select African countries, Life is now among the top five most downloaded apps in Nigeria and Uganda, and ranks 14th in Rwanda*. Users in these countries can access a directory of free resources curated for first-time internet users to improve everything from their digital literacy to their health.

Let’s look in more detail at how this initiative is impacting the lives of KaiOS users around the world.

*Data throughout the article gathered through KaiOS internal research department by surveying and interviewing KaiOS users in various countries.

Impacting even more lives with Life

Not only is the Life app now available worldwide, but we’ve also worked to provide content in various languages and included audio content to accommodate low levels of literacy.

The app can be downloaded from the KaiStore for free onto any KaiOS device. Soon, Life will come preloaded on certain devices, like the Digit 4G device by Jazz in Pakistan.

Most content is available in English, but certain materials have been translated into various languages, including Swahili, Arabic, French, Spanish, Urdu, and even several regional African languages, like Kinyardwanda.

To support users with limited literacy, we worked with Audiopedia to provide nearly 30 lessons in audio form. Short audio snippets educate users about nutrition, sexual health, family planning, substance abuse, safety at work, etc.

We’ve also partnered with Viamo to make legal aid, health, financial education, and agricultural information available in audio form. Users in Rwanda can listen to information in their local language, Kinyarwanda, about their legal rights and learn about their legal options.

Increasing digital literacy with Digital Skills content

As many KaiOS users are first-time internet users, it’s crucial to help them improve their digital literacy. Through the Life app’s Digital Skills content, newly connected consumers can learn how to manage their online privacy, conserve data, use social media, and access resources online.

Life’s Digital Skills content was developed in collaboration with GSMA’s Mobile Internet Skills Training Toolkit (MISTT), a resource for mobile operators who want to train their retail sales staff on how to introduce mobile internet to first-time users.

Screenshot of Digital Skills in Life app

Accordingly, the Digital Skills section of Life focuses on the basics of getting online. Through easy-to-follow tutorials, users can learn how to use important tools, such as Google Maps, WhatsApp, and YouTube on their smart feature phones.

Modules are designed not only to educate consumers about how to use certain apps but also why. For example, consumers will learn how to save on SMS and voice call fees by using WhatsApp for communication.

Other Digital Skills modules connect users with trustworthy news sources and educate consumers about internet scams. For the newly connected, these materials are invaluable. In just a few clicks, they can learn how to protect their privacy and identify suspicious news or messages.

Helping families with books and educational content

Screenshots of Worldreader

Thanks to our partnership with Worldreader, we can offer thousands of free books through the Life app. Additional educational resources also improve literacy rates in underserved communities by providing free self-guided lessons.

In emerging areas, books may not be widely available. The Life app library provides free educational entertainment and brings families together. Many surveyed users shared that they use the Life app to read books to their children.

“[In the education section] they give quite a variety of information…It’s all free information, you don’t have to pay for it. That’s the most amazing thing” – Ugandan mother and Life app user

Improving literacy rates is a key step in helping communities thrive. According to Worldreader, “illiterate people earn on average 35% less than their literate counterparts.” Several studies also show that affordable technology in early education prepares children for future career opportunities. Free literacy-building resources on low-priced KaiOS devices make self-guided lessons accessible, which, in turn, supports local consumers.

Providing free health information

The app’s Health section provides a wide variety of resources that allow users to manage their personal health through expert medical information.

Sexual and reproductive health

Life’s Health section assists women in managing their sexual and reproductive health by providing links to resources such as period-tracking apps and expert medical advice.

Pregnant women can access neonatal tips for caring for their unborn child as well as their own bodies during pregnancy. Once they give birth, they can turn to the app for advice on keeping their infant healthy.

Our partnership with Girl Effect brings their Springster content into the Life app.

“Springster is our mobile-first safe space that digitally connects marginalized and vulnerable girls in over 50 countries to online content designed to equip them with the knowledge, confidence and connections they need to navigate the complex choices of adolescence.” – Girl Effect

This content guides young women through puberty by answering questions that developing girls may be too embarrassed to ask their parents or teachers.

“I used to be so shy and never wanted to ask about my body and why things were happening during puberty, but then I read Springster and it feels like I have a friend, a big sister and I’m not facing this all alone.” — Girl Effect user

Nutritional information

After surveying Life users, we found that people wanted to know more about the food they consume. Over the past year, we’ve added several additional nutritional resources to the app.

  • Explanations of how certain types of food affect the body
  • Food dictionary with photos and nutritional information for local produce
  • Nutritional videos that discuss the importance of eating well, provided by MT2
Users can watch short videos within the app that provide healthy eating tips or address specific conditions, such as diabetes.

Empowering women with education and autonomy

Screenshots of Future and My Life, Mr Rights in Life app

By educating users about gender equality, the Life app strives for women empowerment around the world. Not only do we provide content that aids women in gaining body and financial autonomy, but we also connect users to female-centric programs.

Resources provided by CARE allow women to take control of their finances with free financial education materials. The Gender Equality section also contains materials that encourage female entrepreneurship.

We worked with Girl Effect to bring in My Life My Rights — a collection of resources to help women understand their personal rights, identify potential domestic abuse, and get emotional support from qualified counselors.

Helping rural farmers manage their agricultural business

Through a combination of localized farming information from iCow, Wikipedia, and local sources as well as farmer-to-farmer conversations, the Agriculture section of the Life app helps small farmers improve their businesses.

Wefarm provides useful farming tips, crop management advice, local weather forecasts, and a wide variety of agricultural resources. It also facilitates farmer-to-farmer conversations through free SMS messaging, allowing farmers to share advice.

Thanks to our partnership with iCow, farmers have free access to courses that cover agricultural business topics such as rainwater harvesting, natural pest control, livestock welfare, and many others.

Join us in changing lives for the better

We believe in enabling communities around the world by making mobile internet and trusted, life-changing resources accessible to all. We’re proud of how the Life app is serving that mission.

If you’d like to help us provide life-changing resources to users around the world, please fill out this form to suggest content and we’ll be in touch shortly.

Press releases

Life, the KaiOS in-house app that bridges the gap to educational resources, is now live in Africa

Cape Town, <13 November 2019> – Today, KaiOS Technologies announced that Life, an in-house educational app for KaiOS-powered smart feature phones, is now available in Africa. KaiOS users in Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda, and South Africa can now find the app available for download via the KaiStore, with more countries coming soon.

Life serves as a trusted educational resource for first-time internet users, and provides curated content in six categories, including Digital Skills, Education, Health, Gender Equality, Agriculture, and Financial Education. These resources help users navigate their internet experience, and are optimized for the non-touch screens of KaiOS-powered devices; as well as gain access to valuable information that can improve their lives.

To date, Digital Skills, Books, and Education are the most popular sections of Life, which is the eleventh most downloaded app in Uganda. Kai has partnered with groups such as Funzi, Worldreader, Care, Girl Effect, Tambero, Esoko, Cell-Ed, WeFarm, iCow, and Ubongo, and continues to expand partnerships that deliver high quality educational resources.

The most accessed section overall is Digital Skills, which was developed from GSMA’s Mobile Internet Skills Training Toolkit (MISTT), a resource for organizations who want to introduce the mobile internet to first time mobile internet users. In addition to using the toolkit as the backbone of Digital Skills, a KaiOS focused module has also been added to GSMA’s MISTT material so trainers and frontline retail staff can learn about the key features of the operating system and how to explain to end users.

Claire Sibthorpe, head of Connected Society at GSMA, said, “The GSMA is committed to advancing connectivity amongst users who wish to access mobile internet for the first time. The Connected Society team is delighted to support Life, the KaiOS education platform alongside a dedicated module within our Mobile Internet Skills Toolkit.  Together, our collaboration increases digital skills and helps address the affordability barrier, accelerating progress towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.”

“With Life’s expansion into Africa, we’re excited to continue increasing digital literacy and access to health and financial resources amongst those most intensely impacted by the digital divide,” said Sebastien Codeville, CEO of KaiOS Technologies. “Africa alone has close to 800 million people who are still unconnected, and we hope to make a positive impact on that through affordable, yet advanced, mobile technology.”

KaiOS enables a new category of affordable smart feature phones that require limited memory, while still offering a rich user experience. It supports 3G and 4G/LTE, Wi-Fi, GPS, and NFC. KaiOS-enabled phones come with popular apps and services like WhatsApp, Google Assistant, Facebook, YouTube, and Google Maps, as well as a store for apps called the KaiStore with over two hundred essential apps and counting, from global and local content providers. It is now the third largest mobile operating system worldwide, running on over 100 million devices shipped across Europe, Africa, Asia and Americas.

KaiOS Technologies is particularly interested in working with local developers, who are ideally suited to create apps that address the unique needs of their own communities. Interested developers are encouraged to visit the submission portal to submit content or ideas for the Life app, and work alongside KaiOS to make mobile internet access affordable and valuable for people in the underserved markets.

About KaiOS Technologies

KaiOS Technologies powers an ecosystem of affordable digital products and services, and exists to empower people around the world through technology. Its flagship product, KaiOS, is the leading mobile operating system for smart feature phones with more than 100 million devices shipped in over 100 countries. Kai’s mission is to open up new possibilities for individuals, organizations, and societies by bringing mobile connectivity to the billions of people without internet in emerging markets, as well as providing those in established markets with an alternative to smartphones. KaiOS is based on HTML5 and other open web technologies. Devices running on the platform require limited memory, while still offering a rich user experience through access to apps like Google Assistant, YouTube, Facebook, Google Maps, and Twitter.

KaiOS Media Contact

Eletta Leung / Sarah Collins / 
+852 9139 3746 / +1 (408) 286-2611 

Industry insights

The importance of access to affordable technology in early education 

We accept when older generations struggle with technology, but young students and professionals don’t get the same level of understanding. In the 21st century, all young people in developed countries are expected to have at least a basic level of digital literacy.

However, high costs often prevent students in low-income areas or developing countries from gaining access to technology in the classroom and at home. In order to prevent achievement gaps in the future, it’s crucial to make affordable devices and internet available to young students.

The benefits of using technology in early-education classrooms

Technology now plays a vital role in everything from building fine motor skills to cementing future career prospects. When young students use technology at school, it leads to a variety of benefits.

Improved basic foundational skills

Learning how to use technology results in more than tech skills.

Computers and phones require different motor skills than pen and paper. Learning how to move a computer mouse so that it interacts with content on a screen helps children develop hand-eye coordination. Plus, working with touchscreens or small phone screens allows kids to develop fine motor skills differently than they would by gripping a pencil and writing in a notebook.

Children’s social development benefits from technology as well. Because many early-education games encourage teamwork, young students build important social skills as they work together to complete tasks within the game.

Technology has also been shown to boost student engagement and lead to improved cognitive scores. A study of 10 countries in Latin America, for example, found that adding a single data projector to each classroom lead to an increase in Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) science scores.

Increased subject-matter comprehension

Technology in the classroom encourages students to creatively engage with the subject matter, which leads to better comprehension. A variety of tech options can be integrated into educational settings, including SMART boards, digital data projectors, laptops, tablets, and even mobile phones.

Virtual field trips are one way teachers are using technology to engage kids. With the help of virtual reality headsets or simple tablets, students can explore past and present destinations. What better way to get kids excited about ancient China than to let them take a virtual tour of it?

Additionally, young students in underserved areas in India are showing great improvements in literacy, thanks to mobile phones. Schoolchildren between 5 and 8 use mobile phones to access the Play ‘n’ Learn program, which helps them learn how to use digital devices while they work on language comprehension.

Better opportunities in the future

Digital literacy becomes increasingly important in more advanced grades. If students do not build their technology skills early on, they often fall behind in school and in the job market.

In the United States, school standards require that sixth-graders be able to “use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing.” If children are not exposed to technology in their early-education classrooms, students will be at a severe disadvantage when they enter secondary schools.

Students’ higher-education prospects can also be limited if they don’t have the necessary skills. For conflict-affected youth, online learning is often their only option. The Hakeem chatbot aims to help these youth find online education opportunities, but it assumes that students will have a basic understanding of technology.

Without exposure to technology during their formative years, students can experience significant career disadvantages as well Young people in Egypt, for instance, are already suffering the consequences. Though most schools do not integrate technology into their lessons, many jobs require at least basic tech skills. The skills gap has led to a generation of young people who are struggling to meet the prerequisites of jobs in the private sector.

Affordable technology is already affecting early-education positively

Early access to technology can be life-changing, but it’s typically prohibited by the cost. Affordable technology makes lifelong changes possible for children in developing countries and low-income schools. The following examples show how access to technology is opening up new learning opportunities for young students.

Google Chromebooks for Education

Google’s lightweight, stripped-down laptops provide internet access and enriching educational apps to students at a much lower cost than traditional laptops.
On average, Google Chromebooks for Education cost 60% less than other laptops with similar functionalities.

Smartphones for students without home internet access

While many students in the United States rely on home computers and internet access for everything from research projects to helpful secondary sources, low-income students do not have the same advantage.

Qualcomm’s Project K-Nect distributed smartphones to ninth-grade students who did not have internet access at home. Throughout the school year, the students relied on the smartphones to access additional educational resources and collaborate with their peers. As a result, the students raised their school test scores by 30%.

Source: MashableAsia

Smart feature phones running on KaiOS

An affordable solution in one area may be completely unrealistic in another. In developed countries, low-income schools and families may still be able to afford a few laptops or smartphones. But in emerging countries, those same devices are far too expensive.

One solution is smart feature phones. The non-touch devices are sold for far less than touchscreen smartphones. In fact, smart feature phones running KaiOS are available for as little as $17. The devices run on limited memory, which allows us to keep the costs low. At the same time, we also partner with various carriers and manufacturers to ensure that valuable content and affordable data plans are available through smart feature phones running KaiOS.

With the help of mobile internet and web-based applications, smart feature phones can give students access to research materials and educational games.
As of 2019, KaiOS is already running on over 100 million phones worldwide.

KaiOS makes technology and educational materials accessible

Thanks to the low price of KaiOS-enabled smart feature phones, millions of people — including students — in developing countries are getting connected to the internet for the first time. To help newly connected users make the most of their devices, we created the Life app.

The Life app is currently available for download via the KaiStore in select African countries and will soon expand to more countries in Africa and Asia, where it can reach many first-time internet users. The app comes pre-loaded with a comprehensive directory of resources in categories such as health, women’s empowerment, agriculture, financial inclusion, digital literacy, and education.

While the app has materials for every age group, we’re especially proud of the free educational resources for young students, including the following:

  • Books
  • Literacy-building tools
  • Lessons and resources for educators

In addition to the educational materials, the Life app also has resources that help young students build their digital literacy skills. Children who are exposed to technology before the age of 6 have been shown to perform better in school later in life than children whose first experience with digital devices was after the age of 13.

And because children are often able to master digital devices faster than first-time adult users, the Life app makes it easy for kids to teach their parents how to use them, too. Programs in the US and the UK have already shown that tech-savvy youth often make the best teachers for older first-time technology users.

Affordable technology is necessary for educational equality

Making technology and internet access affordable in early-education classrooms and at home is key to bridging the digital divide. If children establish digital literacy skills during early childhood, they are better prepared for more advanced grades and entrance to the workforce.

We are passionate about making smart feature phones and mobile internet access affordable for people in underserved markets. If you would like to submit ideas or content for the Life app, please fill out our submission form to get in touch with Axel Meta, our Life app project owner.