What is BharOS?

 What is BharOS?

Developed by an IIT Madras-incubated startup, BharOS is being pitched as India’s answer to the Google-owned Android and Apple’s iOS, the two most dominant mobile operating systems in the world.

BharOS’s endorsement by the government not only signals India’s ambitions to have a localized competitor to Silicon Valley operating systems, but also ensures that competitors have a fair chance to succeed against these heavyweights.

Although there are many unanswered questions about BharOS and whether it can emerge as a true competitor to Android, it is clear India is taking a page out of China’s playbook in developing its own local tech ecosystem to fuel the economy. We explain India’s efforts to develop its own operating system and how it could help put a check on Big Tech, even if the OS fails to challenge the Google-Apple duopoly in the mobile ecosystem.

What is BharOS?

BharOS is not a distinctive indigenous OS

BharOS is not very distinct from Android and iOS. Although there is no information publicly available on BharOS and its key features, it appears to be less of an alternative and more of a fork version of Android.

Introducing a completely new operating system and forking Android are two different things. In forking, a developer can copy the source code of a programmed, app, or even operating system and create a new project without violating copyright laws. Google’s Android has been an open-source project ever since it debuted in 2008. Anyone can use it, use the source code, and create their own fork or alternate version. Amazon’s Fire OS, for example, is essentially a fork version of Android.

But a forked version loses access to the Google Play Store — the primary way most Android users download millions of apps on their devices and Google services. Fire OS, for instance, has Amazon’s own App Store.

So an Indian tech company can fork Android and develop a non-Google OS. But that operating system will likely have more bugs and will be more susceptible to hacking since a “forked” version of Android won’t ship with Google Play Protect, software that prevents malware from infiltrating Android devices. However, on Wednesday, Google announced that in line with the CCI ruling in India, it will allow other manufacturers to build forked Android variants. So technically a BharOS will be able to run with Google nod and with access to some of its services.

When HarmonyOS, the operating system Huawei created, lost access to US technologies, it could no longer use Google Mobile Services (GMS), Google’s suite of mobile applications which are licensed separately to manufacturers. And this is why Huawei ships its smartphones globally with in-house Huawei Mobile Services.

Samsung, Xiaomi and Nothing all offer their take on the core Android experience with unique skins but the devices they ship come with GMS and Google Play Protect, giving them access to years of security updates from Google.

Also Read- How to Install Android Apps on Windows 11 in simple way

Android-iOS duopoly is strong as ever

But developing a brand new operating system on its own and building a serious competitor to Android or iOS could be a mammoth task. Not only does it need infinite resources to develop a brand new operating system but also robust developer support. Perhaps the reason why the iPhone became so dominant in the first place was due to the App Store which went live on the device in 2008. Apps went mainstream instantly, becoming accessible to iPhone users through a clean and friendly storefront.

As the popularity of the App Store grew, it gave rise to the Ubers and Spotifys of the world. Apple didn’t invent the App Store, but it brought every developer under one roof which led to the beginning of the mobile ecosystem as we know it today. Google also jumped into the app bandwagon but unlike Apple, the company allowed third-party stores and sideloading. Today, Android is the most dominant mobile operating system with a market share of 71.8 per cent.

Both Android and iOS offer consumers a number of features and benefits, but they have also locked users into their respective ecosystems. There is no third or fourth mobile operating system that exists today, protecting the present duopoly over mobile devices. Attempts have been made by Microsoft, BlackBerry, and even Samsung to create mobile operating systems to compete with Android and iOS, but no one has been able to dominate our digital lives the way Apple and Google have. In the case of Microsoft, Windows Phone was a radically different OS and ahead of its time, unlike Android, but the operating system failed spectacularly due to its inability to attract third-party developers.

Apps will be the challenge despite India’s own tech ecosystem

In recent years, India has stepped up the ladder in building its tech landscape. But it hasn’t grown as big as China’s to create alternatives to Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Even if India develops an alternative to Android and provides its own App Store, it can’t promise a flow of apps from local developers like China does on its many Android app stores.

In India, for instance, Gmail is the default email service for most users and if the App Store India develops does not carry Google apps, no one would want to use a homegrown OS. Also, Google or Meta will be unlikely to port their first-party apps onto a localized App Store for obvious reasons.

 Another problem India will face is convincing Smartphone manufacturers to launch phones with BharOS. Although no official announcement has been made on the list of phone makers planning to launch devices with BharOS, getting major phone brands, including local ones, on board may not be easy.

 Also Read- How to Install Android Apps on Windows 11 in simple way

Is BharOS based on Android?

BharOS is an Android fork: Firstly, the "indigenous" OS is not really all that indigenous as it appears to be based on Android's Open Source Project (AOSP). Using AOSP, anyone and everyone can build custom variants of Android. These versions are usually referred to as Android forks. BharOS is one such Android fork.

Is BharOS based on Android?

 Who developed BharOs?

BharOS is a mobile operating system designed by IIT Madras.  It is an Indian government-funded project to develop a free and open-source operating system (OS) for use in government and public systems. It is being called as a fork of AOSP.

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