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Views: Why India’s “indigenous” smartphone operating system BharOS is overhyped

India’s smartphone operating system BharOS has received much buzz in the media lately, but does it really merit this attention?

Last week, an IIT Madras-incubated firm JandK Operations launched BharOS, claiming it to be India's indigenous (or Atmanirbhar) smartphone operating system. Then, earlier this week, the buzz around it grew when two Indian ministers participated in a video call using smartphones running BharOS. Since then, multiple government bodies have tweeted about it and the media has covered it extensively, pitching it as India's answer to Android and iOS. But does BharOS really merit this attention? Here's why I don't think it does: 1. 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. There are many others like this, such as Amazon's Fire OS and Xiaomi's MIUI. What makes forks different from Google's Android (aka stock Android) is that they don't come with Play Service or Google apps installed by default. There is nothing inherently wrong with being a fork—enough customisations can make you stand out significantly from the stock Android. There are forks like Graphene OS which offer more security and privacy features than stock Android. The issue with BharOS is that its makers don't acknowledge its Android roots and portray it to be something built from the ground up. Here's an interesting thread on this: https://twitter.com/MishaalRahman/status/1616497523400613888?s=20&t=C_oP8wEV2JXqH_x1XTdmzg 2. Consumers have nothing to gain: If you're an Android user, have…

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