India launches own mobile operating system, BharOS: What makes it different?

The project aims to reduce the dependence on foreign operating systems in smartphones and promote the use of locally developed technology

File photo
File photo


Published: Wed 25 Jan 2023, 9:07 PM

A new mobile operating system focused on privacy and security has been developed by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras. BharOS is an Indian government-funded project to develop a free and open-source operating system (OS) for use in government and public systems.

The project aims to reduce the dependence on foreign OS in smartphones and promote the use of locally developed technology.

What are its features?

BharOS comes with No Default Apps (NDA). This means that users are not forced to use apps that they may not be familiar with or that they may not trust. Additionally, this approach allows users to have more control over the permissions that apps have on their device, as they can choose to only allow apps that they trust to access certain features or data on their device.

According to Karthik Ayyar, Director, JandK Operations Pvt Ltd. – the start-up that developed this Mobile Operating System – BharOS offers "'Native Over The Air' (NOTA) updates that can help to keep the devices secure. NOTA updates are automatically downloaded and installed on the device, without the need for the user to manually initiate the process. This ensures that the device is always running the latest [version of the] operating system, including the latest security patches and bug fixes. With NDA, PASS, and NOTA, BharOS ensures that Indian mobile phones are trustworthy."

BharOS provides access to apps from organisation-specific Private App Store Services (PASS). A PASS provides access to a curated list of apps that have been thoroughly vetted and have met certain security and privacy standards of organisation. This means users can be confident that the apps they are installing are safe to use and have been checked for any potential security vulnerabilities or privacy concerns.

Who is using this system?

BharOS Services are currently being provided to organisations that have stringent privacy and security requirements and whose users handle sensitive information that requires confidential communication on restricted apps on mobiles. These users require access to private cloud services through private 5G networks.

Who created it?

The BharOS was developed by JandK Operations Private Limited (JandKops), which has been incubated by IIT Madras Pravartak Technologies Foundation – a Section 8 (Not for Profit) Company established by IIT Madras. The Foundation is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, under its National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NMICPS). It aspires to put India on par with the few countries that currently possess these capabilities.

Addressing a Press Conference on January 19 to announce this Indian Mobile Operating System, Prof. V. Kamakoti, Director, of IIT Madras, said, "BharOS Service is a Mobile Operating System built on a foundation of trust, with a focus on providing users more freedom, control, and [the] flexibility to choose and use only the apps that fit their needs. This innovative system promises to revolutionise the way users think about security and privacy on their mobile devices."

"IIT Madras looks forward to working closely with many more private industries, government agencies, strategic agencies and telecom service providers to increase the usage and adoption of BharOS in our Country," he added.


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