Google has officially rolled out its Google Assistant for the Reliance Jio Phone. This is in fact a first for any feature phone, but then, those who know a thing or two about it would know, the JioPhone is a little different from any other feature phone in the market right now. Note that the JioPhone already comes with its own in-house assistant — called HelloJio — that can be used for voice search and fire up relevant apps, including calling and texting people. It’s a bit slow, but, the fact that a feature phone has this functionality is in itself quite a big deal, to say the least. The availability of Google Assistant just adds one more feather to its cap.
Just like it is on a high-end smartphone, Google Assistant will allow users of the JioPhone get quick and relevant information about their search queries both in text as well as in a conversation-based manner. The experience would be customised for the Jio Phone’s smaller 2.4-inch screen, so would the functionality, but all in all Google is looking to offer the same level of usability on the Jio Phone as it does on a high-end smartphone.
The Jio Phone, to recall, is a feature phone, but, it is smarter than other feature phones in the market right now. For one, it is 4G LTE and VoLTE-ready which means that it has the capability to become a user’s full-fledged internet device, much like a smartphone. Jio, being a 4G-only network, requires such a phone, after all.
Although the company has remained tight-lipped about the hardware (and software) inside the JioPhone, Qualcomm and Spreadtrum have independently confirmed that RIL’s 4G capable feature phone will have two versions. While one batch will be powered by a Snapdragon 205 SoC, a processor Qualcomm has made specifically for ultra-affordable 4G VoLTE phones, the other batch will come with an unspecified Spreadtrum-based processor on the inside. The software inside is a custom fork of Firefox OS — that is KaiOS — with features like voice search/virtual assistant built-in.
The JioPhone has an all-plastic body with a T9 keypad on-board and support for as many as 22 Indian languages. The home button in the center will serve as a dedicated shortcut for firing up the voice assistant as well. It will come with a 2.4-inch QVGA colour screen and NFC support for secure mobile payments. The phone will also come with expandable memory. But, what’s most important for the majority of potential buyers out there is the fact that they will be able to browse the Internet and make video calls using the Jio Phone.