Meet BharOS, India’s rival mobile OS to Google’s Android

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While Google recently confirmed that it is ready to cooperate with CCI, it is also facing a lot of heat due to its monopoly in the smartphone OS segment, where, it pushes its own apps as default services in Android devices. Now, IIT-Madras has developed a new operating system called BharOS which is said to benefit 100 crore smartphone users in India by offering a more secure and private mobile operating system.

Can BharOS compete against Google’s Android? How different is BharOS when compared to Google’s Android and is it really safe to use in this modern world? We tried to answer every question you have been asking about BharOS since its announcement.

What is BharOS?

BharOS is an AOSP (Android Open Source Project) based operating system with no Google apps or services. It is developed by JandK Operations Private Limited (JandKops), which is a non-profit organization incubated at IIT Madras.

This is how the BharOS UI looks (Image credit: IIT Madras)

How is BharOS different from Android?

Technically, BharOS is not that different from Android’s Google OS. In fact, it is based on the AOSP (Android Open Source Project). The major difference between BharOS and Google’s Android OS is the fact that BharOS does not ship with Google services, and it will be a barebone operating system, which allows users to install apps of their own interest.

While BharOS is known as an indigenous operating system, it is still based on AOSP, hence, it is not that different from Google’s stock Android in terms of features and UI. Not just that, BharOS also doesn’t come with any pre-built applications. Having no pre-installed applications will allow users to sideload an app of their choice. However, sideloading an APK could compromise the device’s security, and could make the device more vulnerable to hacking.

As of now, it is unclear how one can replace a pre-installed OS with BharOS. Does it require bootloader unlocking, which could further compromise the device’s security? On top of that, how long will the operating system receive software and security updates? These are the questions that the developer of the BharOS should answer.

It is also interesting to see that the current build of BharOS has third-party apps like DuckDuckGo and Signal as default browsers and messaging apps. It is also interesting to see if the team that has developed BharOS will partner with OEM to launch phones with BharOS.

How to install BharOS on your phone?

As of now, there is no information on when the BharOS will be available for download. Unlike Windows OS, a single build of BharOS cannot be installed on all Android phones, and the team behind BharOS should optimise the OS for each smartphone model for it to run smoothly. Hence, the BharOS could only be available for select phones at the time of launch.

While the team behind BharOS does speak about the requirement of an app-store-like service for BharOS, it is interesting to see if they will partner with an already existing service or will built-in from scratch. When it’s made available, one might have to unlock the bootloader and install a custom recovery image to flash BharOS on an Android smartphone.

When will BharOS be released?

Currently, there are no exact details on when BharOS will be released. It is said that a wider rollout might take some time.

Will your next smartphone run BharOS?

Right now, there is no confirmation on the phones that will support BharOS. However, the company is expected to partner with some major Android OEMs to launch phones with BharOS in the coming days. While BharOS is said to be compatible with Google Pixel smartphones, developers have not confirmed the exact models that will support BharOS.

Is BharOS any better than Android?

BharOS developers claim that BharOS is better than both Android and iOS in terms of features and security. On top of that, they also claim that BharOS could even improve the battery life of the device. It will also allow users to install apps of their interest and will ship with an India-based app store.

Can BharOS run Android apps?

Yes, BharOS is an Android operating system and it will have a private app store and users can also sideload third-party apps. While it can run most apps, a few apps that require Google Play Services will not run on a phone with BharOS.

Can BharOS replace Android?

No, it can’t replace Android OS yet, While it could come as an alternative to Android and iOS, it still has a long way to go and requires support from OEMs and users for its adoption.

Will BharOS support Google Play Services?

No, the primary reason for the development of BharOS is to offer an alternative smartphone OS without the Google Play store or Google Play services, and BharOS will not support Google Play Services.

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