India Unveils Mobile Operating System in Self-Reliance Pursuit

India unveiled a mobile operating system, developed at one of its top engineering colleges, which it claimed was more secure than Alphabet Inc.’s Android and designed to be used in businesses and high-security surroundings.

BharOS, short for Bharat, or India, OS, does not come with any default apps and gives users access to only trusted apps from private store services. “This is a Linux-based operating system,” Professor V. Kamakoti, director at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, said in a phone interview.

The local operating system is another step toward Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal of being self-reliant in everything from 5G telecommunications equipment to chip-fabrication plants. India’s poor will be key beneficiaries of such digital infrastructure, federal Education and Entrepreneurship Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said at the unveiling. 

BharOS comes at a time when India has levied a $160 million fine on Google in an antitrust case, which charged the company with abusing its dominant market position for its Android mobile operating system. The country’s competition watchdog has also asked the US tech giant to take measures such as allowing smartphone users to uninstall certain apps and letting them use their preferred search engine. 

To be sure, BharOS faces an uphill task in a market dominated by Android, which runs roughly 97% of India’s 620 million smartphones. The remaining devices use Apple’s iOS.

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