updated 09:05 am EST, Thu December 3, 2009
Nokia shows Symbian3 for first half 2010
Nokia as part of its Capital Markets Day earlier this week showed a presentation that provided a brief glimpse of the future of Symbian on its phones. The Finnish phone maker expects the next release of the OS, Symbian^3, to ship in the first half of 2010 and to bring features overdue for the platform, including multi-touch input with flick scrolling, pinch-to-zoom and other gestures. The company also expects the interface to become about three times faster and to greatly simplify steps that have normally been overly complex on Symbian: it hopes for users to setup an e-mail account or get to a favorite song in two steps versus the several in Symbian today.
Other improvements include multiple home screens that improve on those established with phones like the N97, a better web browser, hardware graphics acceleration for the main UI and a more natural photo viewer. Conceptual images show an interface that overall is similar to the existing Symbian S60 (also known as Symbian^1) but with a simpler design.
A more radical overhaul of the OS should come through Symbian^4, which isn't due until the end of 2010 but will use the Qt development environment at its root and thus share some compatibility with Nokia's own Maemo platform. One part of the presentation teases augmented reality features, like showing nearby restaurants overlaid on a live camera view, as an eventual part of Nokia phones.
The changes are part of a larger overall strategy that will gradually de-emphasize conventional phones in Nokia's business. It expects phones using the smartphone-grade Symbian OS to ship on just over half of its phones by 2011 with the old, limited S40 relegated to a third of its handsets. Maemo will have the smallest share but will be reserved for Nokia's most advanced devices.
Of smartphones, Nokia expects more than half of them to use touchscreens by late 2010, with a third of all phones having both touch and a QWERTY keyboard while a quarter will use touch alone. Only a small fraction by that point won't have one or both control schemes.
The plans promise a much-needed revitalization of Nokia's smartphone strategy. Analysts believe the company has lost market share in smartphones as a dearth of both touchscreen phones and a modern mobile OS has essentially conceded certain parts of the market to the iPhone and Android devices; BlackBerry phones have also prevented Nokia's Eseries from gaining additional traction. [via Engadget]