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Making internet accessible for the masses of India

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JioPhone

Role
Product Manager - UX
Responsibilities
IA, UX
Platforms
Year
KaiOS
2017-18

The problem

Internet penetration in India has gone up from 34% in 2017 to ~50% in 2021 but still, half the population (mostly from rural areas) doesn't have access or means to access the internet. Reliance Jio is the leading player in India's digital revolution. Along with its 5G technology and robust telecom ecosystem, Jio has launched a plethora of supporting devices to connect the diverse masses of India.

I worked on one of these devices called the JioPhone - a smart feature phone designed for those who can't afford the expensive smartphones with fancy displays. JioPhone was envisioned to be affordable with easily accessible hardware but the challenge for the team was to equip it with fast, seamless and user focused OS design as well.

We had to keep in mind that the target users are not tech-savvy hence, it had to be the simplest to use.

Wait, but what exactly is a feature phone? 

We might have forgotten about the phones with real, physical buttons but they are still in prevalent use amongst the Indian masses. To recap for us, here's what a feature phone looks like - 

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JioPhone runs on KaiOS, an operating system designed specifically for feature phones

Earlier, a feature phone was just good enough for making calls, sending telegrams-level-crisp texts and clicking pictures that looked good only on that small a screen. But with KaiOS, all that has changed. 

 

KaiOS makes it possible to browse internet through a custom-built browser, download apps from its store and access movies, music, news etc. on the go through a variety of its native apps. Since JioPhone doesn't have a touchscreen, it was imperative to redefine the navigation and flow of information to provide a better user experience which is simplest to use.

KaiOS experience revamp for JioPhone

KaiOS has some native apps like - Call log, Contacts, Messages, Music, etc. We refined their user flow to make it simpler and easier to navigate. Secondly, we rebranded all the native apps as per Jio's guidelines.

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Next major change was to redesign the home screen so that users have easy access to all Jio apps bundle too. We finalised the option 1 because Jio apps group had the most visibility in this.

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Designing IRCTC app for JioPhone

IRCTC is an Indian government body that provides services like ticketing, catering and tourism for the Indian Railways. Since, most of our target users travel via trains (lot of them on daily basis) we wanted to give them a quicker ways of booking their tickets with JioPhone. We collaborated with the IRCTC team to open up their apis to us and I lead the designing of their app for JioPhone.

I used their android app as reference and created wireframes replicating a similar flow for JioPhone.

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