Hike, an Indian rival of WhatsApp, on Wednesday unveiled a new mobile operating system to further expand its user base in the country. Based on Android, Hike’s Total operating system sets itself apart by integrating USSD technology to provide basic web services without an active data connection.
If you have ever checked your prepaid account balance by dialing codes like *123# or *130#, you have seen the USSD technology in action. Hike Total OS uses the same technology as part of its Universal Transfer Protocol to transfer data from the devices and the company’s servers. Since USSD relies on telecom operators, Hike has partnered Airtel, Aircel and BSNL in the country to keep these USSD interactions free.
What can be used for free on Total OS
A number of services offered by Hike like Messaging, Wallet, Cricket updates, mobile recharges, news, railways information and horoscope will be available free of cost to the consumers on the supported telecom networks. It is important to note here that not all features of these services are free and you will only get the basic information, but for additional details or image/ video content, you will need to subscribe to a data plan. The same is true for using any other data-related app or service aparts the free services.
Hike has also worked with previously mentioned telecom operators to provide affordable sachet data packs, which will start as low as INR 1. The consumers will be able to purchase these plans on the device itself without needing active data. The company uses UPI for payment for these purchases.
Total OS-powered devices
According to Hike, it has partnered with Intex and Karbonn to build phones based on the Total OS. Initially, four Total OS phones by Intex and Karbonn will be available for purchase. These phones are Intex Aqua Lions N1, Intex Aqua Lions T1, Intex Aqua Lions T1-Lite and Karbonn A40 Indian. The phones are scheduled to hit the shelves beginning March 1, 2018 and will cost around INR 3,00o INR 5,000.
A big part of the Hike’s marketing for the Total OS is the simple login support. The consumers can just use their phone number to login and use all the free web services in the Total OS.
“For the next billion true mobile first users, coming online can be still be quite complicated and intimidating. Simplify, simplify, simplify. That’s all we’ve been doing. We’ve taken the 15-20 step process of someone coming online and made it into only a few steps – “Buy a phone, turn it on and you’re good to go. Everything, all the essential services all work out of the box even without data,” said Kavin Bharti Mittal, Founder and CEO, Hike, in a statement.