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The JioPhone created quite a stir in the Indian market when it was announced last month. This was not only due to its effective price of Rs 0, bult also for the fact that it offers a range of Jio apps and features that blur the line between a feature phone and a smartphone. However, one of the apps that was missing from the phone was WhatsApp, and it seems like Reliance Jio is out to plug that hole. According to a report by Factor Daily, the telecom operator is in talks with WhatsApp to create a special version of the instant messaging platform on WhatsApp.
One source told the website, “There have been a few meetings between Reliance Jio officials and WhatsApp officials… but the discussions are preliminary.” While another source said that “The talks are on. We already have a relationship with Facebook… There are technical challenges. A version (of Whatsapp) is needed that will work optimally on the JioPhone.”
It should be noted that while the JioPhone will come with JioChat, a majority of users in India use WhatsApp. Reliance Jio’s phone is tipped to run on KaiOS, which is a forked version of Mozilla’s Firefox OS, and WhatsApp currently doesn’t have an app for that platform.
To recall, the JioPhone was unveiled late last month and pre-bookings for the device will start from August 24. During the demonstration of the phone during Reliance Jio’s AGM, the device was shown to have voice recognition capabilities and Jio's apps, besides the standard features that one would expect from a feature phone. Further, it isn’t not yet known if the device will allow users to install apps from other service providers beyond Jio’s apps. Making the phone exclusive to the operators apps make be in violation of net neutrality. Idea Cellular has also pointed out the same.