Leaked video shows off possible Android OS designed for feature phones

Evidence suggests Google scrapped the feature phone operating system

A video of an alleged Android OS designed for feature phones leaked online. The video shows off what could be an unreleased version of Google’s mobile operating system running on a Nokia device of some kind.

Posted by 9to5Google, the video also details the use of several Google apps on the device, including Assistant, Maps and more. The feature phone running Android has turned up before in photos, but this is the first video of the device.

9to5 first detailed rumours of Google’s work on Android for feature phones earlier this year after discovering references inside Chromium’s source code. Chromium is the open-source project that underpins Google’s Chrome browser along with other web browsers like Vivaldi and Microsoft’s Edge.

The references pointed to a new ‘touchless’ mode in Chrome, likely designed for devices without a touchscreen. Screenshots later confirmed it was destined for feature phones.

Unfortunately, it looks like Google began removing the code earlier this month, indicating the feature was scrapped or postponed.

Along with various Google apps, the device in the video had an app called ‘Proxx’ installed. Google showed off the app at its I/O conference in May. Proxx, a Minesweeper clone, demonstrated how an app could scale from desktop down to simple feature phones.

The settings screen notes that the feature phone runs Android 8.1 and lists the phone’s name as ‘Iron GAFP.’ 9to5 suggests it could stand for ‘Google Android Feature Phone.’

While the leak is certainly interesting, it’s sad to see the project on its way out. It’s not clear why Google appears to be ending development on the project.

The Verge suggests it could be because Google invested $22 million USD (about $29.2 million CAD) into KaiOS, an alternative feature phone operating system based on the discontinued Firefox OS.

KaiOS includes many of the major apps that appear in the leaked video, including Google Maps, YouTube, Facebook and Google Assistant. It also works with WhatsApp.

Considering KaiOS already offers access to Google apps and services on feature phones, the search giant may have decided there was little to gain from making its own feature phone OS.

In other words, this may be the closest we get to an Android-based feature phone operating system.

Source: 9to5Google Via: The Verge