After a year of massive scale of extreme disruption, we started 2021 with hope, having seen vaccines rolling out and life gradually resuming in the new normal. Addressing the devastating pandemic impacts on vulnerable communities in emerging markets has become our priority as many lack access to affordable mobile devices and the internet, which is a huge barrier to vital assistance and resources. We adapted to these evolving needs with resilience and compassion. Going beyond our original proposition as an operating system provider to power 4G devices, KaiOS has transformed into an inclusion enabler – by bringing a platform that combines a relevant ecosystem, customized user engagement, and seamless fintech service to the developing markets.  

Having redefined the way we connect and upskill our users to the digital world, we share this timeline infographic that marks some of our key highlights from the past year and what we’re looking forward to in 2022. 

January 2021 — The very first official announcement of the year is with Wikipedia, with its app released on the KaiStore, equalizing and extending access to essential knowledge to new internet users in developing markets for the first time. It is a significant achievement as it unlocks the largest collection of human knowledge to millions of people. CONTINUE READING 

February 2021 — With hundreds of millions of people impacted by the digital divide, it is crucial for isolated communities to gain internet access to life-enhancing digital resources. This time, with rural Africa.  

KaiOS partnered with Justdiggit to create a regreen app on KaiStore, and provided devices with monthly data to farmers in rural Tanzania. These farmers received training using the devices with the regreen app and access to features like internet browsing and apps. This project addressed critical ICT challenges – bringing affordable internet access to rural areas and providing digital skills training to new internet users. More importantly, it demonstrated to the farmers the need for such phones and apps, and they were willing to pay for and continue using mobile internet. CONTINUE READING 

March 2021 — We see increasing KaiStore visits as our ecosystem and developers are gaining recognition from our users. The KaiStore team is keeping up the momentum with a new set of updates that make it easier to find apps and enhance the UX experience as a whole. For example, the You May Also Like feature is a popular one as it gives suggestions to users with more great content related to their recent searches. CONTINUE READING 

April 2021 — While it’s important to continue expanding mobile broadband coverage, the primary challenge (and focus) is to reduce the usage gap. To address the affordability issue that hinders mobile internet adoption, KaiOS initiated a device financing program in Pakistan in partnership with Jazz, Swift Biz Solutions, Finja Lending Services Limited, and Pakistan Telecom Authority. With this new initiative, a user would only have to pay an upfront cost close to a 2G phone and a small monthly repayment for an internet device and data. This model can drive down the cost of 4G device and data and can be replicated at scale in other parts of the world to accelerate digital inclusion.  

May 2021 — The Life app by KaiOS is among the top 5 apps on the KaiStore, and it is particularly popular in African markets. This year, we released the second version of our Life app, incorporating feedback from our users and adding new features such as daily content updates, in-app web browsing, saving and searching posts, etc. We’re proud to see the Life app is changing lives for the better with its engaging and reliable content provided by our trusted NGOs and content partners.  CONTINUE READING 

June 2021 — Looking for more than just text messaging, voice messaging, and media sharing now? We hear you. This year, we brought WhatsApp VoIP – a simple and cost-effective way to communicate through voice call over the internet. It became the first data voice call that was made available for KaiOS users, an essential feature in times like now with substantial mobility restriction. Not only does it enhances the overall KaiOS user experience, it also makes KaiOS an even more sustainable solution for carriers. CONTINUE READING 

July 2021 — We welcomed the 1000th app to our KaiStore! We’re delighted to have grown the collection of apps to over 1000, thanks to the recognition from the developer community and our users. Lots of innovation and valuable content rolling out, with social continues to be the most sought-after category, followed by games and utilities. Stay tuned and see what exciting apps we will bring in 2022. 

August 2021 — Let’s reimagine the KaiOS experience with KaiOS 3.0, a significant and complete software update since the 2.5 version which packs the latest Mozilla Gecko engine (version 84) and comes with the latest chipset Board Support Package & Linux kernel. In this upgrade we added a number of new features, delivering a more streamlined user experience with enhanced security and stability. Be sure to keep an eye out on our next device with 3.0 in 2022! CONTINUE READING 

*Note: KaiOS 3.0 is only available on select KaiOS devices in the US as of today. 

September 2021  Improving digital access to, and the use of financial transactions is always a key priority in KaiOS.  

China is no doubt the world leader in digital payment. To meet the local users’ needs for a diversified mobile payment experience, we’re thrilled to partner with Alipay to release the app in the KaiOS-run Nokia phones in China. Users can now scan & pay, go online shopping, make P2P transfers, and many more in Nokia 6300 and 8000. CONTINUE READING 

October 2021 — We‘ve come a long way since our first device is launched five years ago. It is with great pride we announced that we’ve reached over 160 million users, with more than 190 models shipped globally, despite the challenges in the recent two years with lockdowns, chip shortage, etc,. From no online experience to regular data usage, we unleash the world’s untapped markets with affordable access to mobile internet. CONTINUE READING 

November 2021 — KaiOS was presented with the Red Dot Award 2021 in the Interface and User Experience category for its design excellence – an interface design that is optimized, intuitive, easy-to-use for first-time internet users. 

Unlike other advanced or sophisticated OS designs for touch devices, the KaiOS UX team’s design vision is not solely focused on aesthetics. The priority is to ensure the UI runs seamlessly on a low-spec device and can be easily adapted by digitally illiterate users while keeping a good look. CONTINUE READING 

December 2021 — Before we conclude the year, we make sure we keep our focus all year long and are on the right track to be an ultimate platform that enables digital identity and financial inclusion.  

With over a billion people unbanked worldwide, there is an enormous need to reach these individuals on affordable internet phones and offer them reliable financial services through safe and easy-to-use payment apps. That’s why we added JazzCash to bring instant mobile payment and top-up services to our users, and help them become digitally and financially included. CONTINUE READING 

Our path as an enabler in the new normal  

As expected, the growth was still not like how we achieved in the pre-COVID times, but these numbers and new partnerships are going up and in the right direction in this second year of the pandemic. The post-COVID world is destined to have a complete shake-up in keeping the entire world functioning, both digitally and financially. Now it’s the time to work together to:  

Narrow the usage gap  

43% of the world’s population do not use mobile internet despite living in areas with mobile broadband coverage. $450B will be invested to reduce this gap over the next eight years from banks and institutions worldwide 

Ramp up digital financial services  

The positive shifts toward digital payment in many economies but also demonstrates the unequal access to these services among the excluded groups 

Reform digital skills education and engagement strategy to empower first-time internet users  

Devices and content are the foundation. The critical next step is to understand new users’ challenges and help them get the most out of our products 

The challenges, of course, remain enormous in the face of the pandemic. While the ongoing global chip shortage has a tremendous impact on the smart feature phone shipment, we have been able to source alternative affordable chips to maintain the production and channel our resources towards dual-inclusion (digital and financial inclusion) by:  

  • making smart feature phones even more affordable with subsides from partners and consumer financing solutions 
  • expanding to financial inclusion as part of the connectivity journey, starting with digital wallet onboarding on KaiOS 
  • providing suitable fintech services like mobile money, bank/neo-bank, to improve access to financing that ultimately accumulates wealth and knowledge  
  • growing the ecosystem to include the most relevant and popular services available on affordable devices  

Let’s work towards inclusive, affordable connectivity for all. 

Want to play a role in digital connectivity? Talk with us: