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Who is this good news for?
Symbian developers rejoice, the big question is: what about Java and Browser developers?
As Dean Bubley observes; "normal people don't download applications to handsets". S60 Symbian development is a all about enterprise applications. In order to access these great new features in consumer applications, Nokia has to provide OS bindings from the browser and from Java ME. All Nokia’s senior VP for software platforms, Lee Williams said about this in his presentation yesterday was that support for cool stuff would come in an "iterative way". And if Java ME support goes thru the Java Community Process, it will take a couple of years to agree on a JSR.
Well, its certainly cool stuff here:
Nokia showed a touch UI as you have probably already seen elsewhere. It is not multi-touch, darn! The touch screen in the demo was a resistive type single point touch screen. The UI changes are evolutionary. Nokia still sees the phone as a single-hand device and they are keeping menus, they are just making them finger-sized. Nokia said they wanted to be backwards compatible, keep old application working. There is no iPhone style finger keyboard, you need to use a stylus for writing.
The new phones will support haptics. Probably by using the vibration motor. Nokia licensed this technology from Immersion earlier this summer. This is fairly primitive so don't expect any religious experiences. But its a start.
They introduced a "Sensor framework" and mentioned both motion, orientation, proximity and light sensors. They showed both motion and acceleration. A video showed a woman diverting a call by flipping over the phone while it was lying on a table. All these sensors makes gestures an additional UI component. This is very exciting and certainly opens some new opportunities for application and game developers!
You may have seen the crazy guys who made it possible to use a Wii remote to control a Nokia phone, next year you may be able to control the Wii with your Nokia phone!
Gestures are going to be user configurable.
ScreenPlay and FreeWay
ScreenPlay and FreeWay are Symbian 9.5 technologies for video acceleration and network access. Snazzy names! Something must have happened since the iPhone. Symbian used to call their stuff something like "Host Controller Transport Layer" or "Logical Link Control and Adaptation Protocol (L2CAP)".
ScreenPlay goes hand in hand with Symbian's recently announced support for Symmetric Multi Processing (SMP). SMP is basically a Duo Core processor on your phone. Current Symbian phones are painfully slow and desperately needs faster drawing speed. Thanks, iPhone!
Symbian Freeway architecture. Nokia has promised UMA devices next year. The promise is that you can move seamless between networks. It you are on the phone and move into a known WiFi zone, the call seamlessly switches to VoIP. Almost sounds too good to be true.
Flash Lite 3 was announced, that means Flash Video in the browser and will cater to all your YouTube entertainment needs. Potentially a better solution than today's awkward video playback.