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WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube on JioPhone: First Impressions

All the apps added have a simple UI and come with most of its features.

JioPhone 4

Reliance Industries recently hosted 41st Annual General Meeting where it announced a new offer that will make the JioPhone a sweet deal. Called the JioPhone Monsoon Hungama offer, users can replace any existing feature phone for a JioPhone at Rs 501.

This offer does not clash with the Rs 1,500 deal that was launched last year and that would still be available for those that want to avail it. Along with the new offer, Reliance Jio also announced that the JioPhone is going to get an update where the company will be adding Facebook, WhatsApp as well as YouTube on the JioPhone. These are some of the most used mobile apps in India. People have been asking for these apps to be added to the JioPhone for a while now and it seems the company has heard them.

The three apps will be coming to all JioPhones on August 15, in the form of a system update. The JioPhone already had its own voice search option, but the company is adding Google Assistant in the mix this time to sweeten the deal even more. I had a chance today to preview all three of the apps on the JioPhone today and here’s what I felt about them.

The most popular among the three apps that are being added has to be WhatsApp. The instant messenger app has been a smash hit since it launched in India and has even taken over as a potential social platform for many people. The interface of WhatsApp on the JioPhone is simple and clean.

On opening the app the user is greeted by the list of existing messages from the various contacts. While inside a particular chat, the previous messages are shown in the same manner as they are on a smartphone, but only in a smaller format. Users can send and receive text messages, photos, videos and even set a status on the app. But the app will not support voice or video calling facilities. The app is easy to use and has a very clean user interface that will make it convenient for most of the target customer base.

Moving on to the Facebook app, this one might be a little underwhelming due to the interface which is very reminiscent of the mobile version of Facebook that was available on the web browsers of the Java and Symbian phones. The screen is not big enough to do justice to this platform and the images and videos appear rather small. The text updates appear fine though, but if someone wanted to look at a page, they might be disappointed because the text and links seemed to overflow here and there. In all, this app will just make do its purpose of keeping one updated about what is going on in the app but may not make it an enjoyable experience.

Up next is YouTube which I personally feel is a more popular app in the suburbs than even Facebook. The YouTube app is a great replication of its Android version and has all the knick-knacks in its place and even looks clean. The videos play fine and the speaker of the device is loud enough to make it audible even in a noisy environment. Searching for videos, channels and even the suggestions seem easy to find.

And finally, the Google Assistant that has been added to the JioPhone seems competent enough to do simple searches of apps or even content on the apps. For example, if I trigger the assistant and ask it to open Facebook, it competently does that, or if I ask it to play Despacito on YouTube, it opens YouTube and searches for the video and plays it. The only thing to note here is that a strong data connection is required for this feature to work. We kept trying it on a weaker network and it failed, once we transferred to a stronger connection it started working again.

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For a Rs 1,500 phone, the new update seems like a very meaningful addition and should be a hit among the users. The apps are precise, fast enough as well as easy enough to use. Sure it takes a couple of seconds to load each app, but considering the price and specs of the phone, that is more than pardonable.

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  • Published Date: July 19, 2018 6:08 PM IST