FirstTouch, a mobile operating system which looks to connect Indians in their native languages, has rebranded itself to Indus OS and raised $5 million in a round of funding led by Omidyar Network. The company will use the money to invest in technology, hiring and for expanding into international markets. It had previously closed an angel round led by various technology entrepreneurs and investors.
Indus OS is an Android-based operating system targeted at native language speakers. The OS currently claims to support 12 regional languages including Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu and Assamese. It also offers an app store with over 15,000 apps as a substitute for Google Play. The OS currently has partnerships with Micromax in India and Elite in Bangladesh, to run on some of their models.
Government tie up: Interestingly, on its website, Indus OS mentions that it has a tie up with the Indian Government to introduce text-to-speech capabilities in 9 Indian languages by March. It’s not quite clear if the ‘feature’ will only be available on Indus OS phones, of if it will be available as an app for all Android users. The latter would be fantastic, as users would be able to avail this feature without requiring to get a new phone.
It’s worth noting that in June 2014 Indus OS had launched its first self-branded Android smartphone under the brand Firstouch, and had plans to launch smartphones with support for all Indic languages by March 2015. At the time, the company said that it planned to launch 10 regional Android smartphones in the price range of Rs 3,500 to Rs 12,500 over the next year. However, since then the company changed strategy and is instead looking to partner with OEMs rather than compete against them.
Micromax tie up: In May last year, Micromax introduced the Android-based Indic language OS in its Canvas Unite 3 phone. The companies also partnered for translation and transliteration services with messaging on Micromax’s phones and also provide access to about 10,000 local language apps available on MoFirst’s App Bazaar.