Google just spent $22m on what used to be Firefox OS

Google has made a $22m investment in KaiOS, a smartphone operating system designed for low-power devices that originally forked from Firefox OS. 

Firefox OS was a relatively short-lived operating system that powered a range of low-powered phones and smart TVs before it was discontinued completely in January 2017.

Read more: Best smartphone

Since it was open source software, the operating system has since been ‘forked’ into a number of different versions. Panasonic has continued its development for its smart TVs under the name ‘My Home Screen’ and KaiOS is the most successful mobile fork, and has featured extensively on Alcatel’s low powered-devices, The Register reports.

It was also the operating system behind the recent revival of the Nokia 8110.

We should probably point out at this point that KaiOS is technically a fork of a fork (‘Boot to Gecko’ is the missing link in the chain), but there’s still Firefox OS DNA at its core.

The future is low-powered

Google has done a pretty good job at establishing Android as one of the two main mobile operating systems for high-end devices alongside Apple’s iOS, but if it wants to establish itself in emerging markets it needs to have software that can run on much lower powered devices.

Android Go is a first step towards this, but KaiOS is able to run on just 256MB of RAM, around half of Android Go’s 512MB recommended minimum.

So the two operating systems are likely to remain separate, but Google’s investment appears to be designed to safeguard the provision of Google’s apps and services on these devices. Just because you’re using a low-powered device doesn’t mean you should be without the delights of YouTube and Google Maps, according to Google.

Do you think Google is wise to be going after low-powered devices? Let us know @TrustedReviews.