Google may be looking to feature phones, non-touchscreen devices, for the next Android offshoot going forward according to 9to5Google.

9to5Google have seen an upcoming update code for Google Chrome that enables a new vision and feature for future touchless Android devices, entering the market as a competitor to KaiOS which is currently used for non-touchscreen feature phones.

Android Go is the current strategy for sub $100 budget devices as part of Google’s “next billion users” strategy, but it would seem the company is pivoting to include feature phones as part of this target.

According to 9to5Google the code includes a “touchless” mode feature which would become rooted in Android itself, instead of building a completely separate OS to enable this feature.

It was originally thought that this new “touchless” mode feature could possibly be for Android TV devices but it now seems this might not be the case. Instead, a KaiOS-inspired feature phone experience. For example, the placement of “Explore” and “Options” combined with additional controls labelled “1”, “2”, and “3” have given the best hint that this new feature mode has been designed to enable Chrome to work on basic feature phones with just the number and d-pad keypad.

The small display would be expected to have resolution of 640×480p, pointing to the screenshots being meant for very small, low-end devices.

9to5Google have delved further into the updated code to find that Android feature phones will not have access to Android’s app switcher unless they have a dedicated button for this.

Google are yet to comment on this development but we will certainly be keeping an eye out for any new developments or comments from Google.

Source: 9to5 Google.
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Dean Rosolen

There’ll probably be some noise made about it at Google I/O.