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Nokia's Symbian 4 plans

Friday, January 22, 2010

Nokia has begun to flesh out its plans for Symbian 4 as it readies to do battle with Android and the iPhone

Nokia has outlined plans for Symbian 4, its forthcoming release of the mobile operating system, and one that is designed to go head-to-head with the iPhone and Google's Android OS.

According to a proposal filed with the Symbian Foundation [ PDF] Symbian's overriding focus will be on simplifying the user experience.

Although Symbian doesn't generally receive as much attention as the likes of Android and Apple's iPhone, Symbian is still the dominant player in the smartphone market, commanding around 50% of the market. Which makes the open source mobile OS an important player and one worthy of watching.

Although the most obvious changes planned for Symbian 4 are the interface ones, there are a number of changes planned under the surface which will improve usability. Among these will be an attempt to minimize the number of user prompts, a common look and feel for applications and autosaving features. Reducing the need for user feedback is a key part of improving usability on mobile platforms and will make Symbian 4 easier to use.

The major, and most obvious, changes in Symbian 4 will be the interface ones. Users of Symbian 4 will be greeted with four main views: contacts, music, photos and applications. This will make major features of the phone quickly accessible to users. In addition to the four main views, users will be able to create shortcuts to specific items which can be placed on the home screen.

Going head-to-head with the likes of Android and the iPhone, the Nokia proposal specifically remarks on certain features of those and how Symbian 4 will differ from them. For example, while Android has a multi-paned home screen, which can be dragged from left to right, Symbian 4 will have individual and distinct pages for each grouping of features. The iPhone, on the other hand, has a "manually organised grid" for displaying available applications. Symbian 4 will instead have the capability of viewing the application library with "multiple filtered views".

But, before the release of Symbian 4 users can look forward to Symbian 2 and 3. Symbian 2 is the first open source release of the OS and will appear on phones early this year. Symbian 3 will appear later this year and will include multi-touch support.

Symbian 4 is expected to start appearing on smartphones early 2011.



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