Symbian Updates – Way to Go

The new Symbian user interface is a big improvement over what was with S60 5th Edition. I mean, I had sworn by my grandfather’s beard to shun S60 5th Edition – and I kept my word. But what used to be Symbian 3 (now just Symbian) is more like it, and I am loving it.

One of the decisions that has been made about Symbian in recent times is that move to make it a constantly evolving platform, such that there is no more need for naming conventions like Symbian^3 or Symbian^4 at all. What we have is just Symbian built in such a way that bits and pieces of improvements can be made to parts of the OS and user interface without touching the whole.

For example, Nokia plans to introduce a new Qt-based browser in early 2011 as a free update for Symbian devices. Do you get it? Users don’t have to wait for big updates to the whole device. Instead, a browser update, once ready, can be pushed out – and to every modern Symbian device (that excludes S60 3rd Edition, S60 5th Edition and other older versions).

An improvement would not even necesarilly be device-specific. The idea is that an improvement to one would be available as an improvement to all.

For example
Social Networking (SN) is a built-in app on the Nokia N8 that allows you to post updates to multiple Facebook and/or Twitter accounts. You can also manage each individual accounts separately.

Symbian Updates - Way to Go 1
All activity view in Social Networking lets you view and manage all your Twitter and FB accounts...

Other functionality built into the Social Networking app:

  • Upload pictures from gallery
  • Upload pictures from camera
  • Read, compose, reply FB messages
  • Manage FB events
  • Manage FB Friends
  • Post comments, manage Likes/Unlikes
  • Check Twitter messages
  • Manage Twitter Favourites
  • Compose, read and reply Twitter messages
Also read:  Are you using Oju emoticons on your Android smartphone?

The version of SN that came with the phone didn’t look tops in terms of eye-candy. This afternoon, when I launched SN on my Nokia N8, I was greeted with a notification that an update was available for SN. A few minutes after that, the update was downloaded and installed – and voila a newer, finger-friendlier and much better-looking SN application (version 1.2.163) was running on my unit.

The following improvements are immediately obvious on the new version –

  1. Fonts are larger and look better – all easier to read
  2. Links are more touch-friendly
  3. The update box looks and works better
  4. The picture upload button is smaller
  5. Facebook photo albums seem to load faster now
  6. Some changes in colour scheme, especially of the “Comment” and “Like” buttons
  7. Profile pics now have a nice border with rounded corners
  8. Everything looks more pleasing and certainly works better
Symbian Updates - Way to Go 2
Social Networking - Before update (above); After update (below)

This kind of implementation in the Symbian OS is a very significant one. It means that users can expect continual improvements to their devices. This is the long-term support that Symbian (and Nokia) users have been crying out for.

It means that when you spend money on a Symbian device (excluding S60 3rd Edition, S60 5th Edition and other older versions), you are investing in a future-proof device, at least software-wise.

Mister Mobility

I started blogging about mobile in 2004 as a fun way to share my passion for gadgets and mobile services. My other interests include digital media, speaking and teaching, photography, travelling, and dancing.

14 thoughts on “Symbian Updates – Way to Go

  • December 1, 2010 at 9:54 pm
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    This is the best thing that happened since the internet was invented.

    lets give credit to Stephen Elop for this.

    I cant wait to see the compitetion when Nokia starts popping in all those updates.

  • December 1, 2010 at 10:08 pm
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    Wow! This is great. An “update as you go”
    The phone will never be outdated on terms of functions and software. Well, you’ll probably have to change the casing due to wear and tear otherwise, the longer you use the phone, the better it becomes.
    We wouldn’t have to painfully download a whooping 500 Mb update to change the whole OS. This is surely a win win situation.
    This is the kind of thing i’ve been longing for.

  • December 1, 2010 at 10:25 pm
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    Sorry, i can’t help saying this.
    Afewgoodmen and his iphone clutching friends will be green with envy by now.

    What i mean is that with this inovations, nokia has once again shown that they are still the leader of the pack. This is way better than apple’s method of changing complete OS with its attendant problems (viz Yomi’s recent experience)

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  • December 2, 2010 at 6:53 am
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    Great move by Nokia for bringing this long-overdue support to the primary OS!!!

    This makes me more eager to get a symbian device.

  • December 2, 2010 at 9:40 am
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    Will the move to Qt for developing apps also include the n900 and other meamo devices and would the also get updates on the go ?

  • December 2, 2010 at 11:38 am
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    Johnny,

    The PR 1.2 firmware update for the Nokia N900 made it Qt-compliant. The move to Qt includes MeeGo (the successor to Maemo). Essentially, this means that apps can be developed for both Symbian and Maemo devices, with just minor tweaks.

    In answer to your question, yes; devices on both platforms should be able to get such updates.

  • December 3, 2010 at 4:41 pm
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    Nobody is saying Nokia isn’t doing well. It appears they are now finally getting the hang of it and not just leaving their users and customers in the cold to freeze. Prior to Apple ios and Google Android, Nokia would not think of doing what they are doing.

    Upgrading firmware and Major OS did not start with Nokia. At best, Nokia is only catching up! If they are so User friendly, I dare them to allow users of their expensive Nokia N97 to be able to upgrade to Symbian ^3. Of course they CANT!! Or perhaps WONT.

    They should better learn from iOS and Google and stop playing catch up and boasting over what other Device manufacturers regard as the NORM!

  • December 3, 2010 at 5:31 pm
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    They should better learn from iOS and Google and stop playing catch up and boasting over what other Device manufacturers regard as the NORM!

    This has got me laughing so bad that its hard to stop.

    I mean, isn’t it ironic that you have never given this advice to either Apple or Google, seeing that they’ve essentially spent the last few years playing catch up and boasting over several things that cough, cough, guess who – yes; Nokia – has regarded as the norm since forever?

    Please, spare us. Everyone plays catchup one way or the other. And for the records, those other guys you tried to paint as pacesetters have had to play catchup in much more areas than Nokia has had to. Don’t let’s start listing them.

  • December 4, 2010 at 8:49 am
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    Yomi, Your point noted. What you infer was that features like multi-tasking, copy and paste and others that was added to later ios updates were copied from NOkia? I doubt if that could be said as realistic. Because other phone manufacturers like RIM (Blackberry) also had those feutures. Maybe RIM was copied instead. Those are just smartphone device features, integral to the device and not future device OS updates or after sales customer support.

    I only expected Nokia to have started this kind of update ever since. It has been the Mobile phone super power for long and it still is. I love this new move by Nokia. But why I am not so ecstatic however is that this new offering is not so ground breaking as it would have been, had it been done 3 years ago. Nokia is playing catching up now.

    Finally, it would have been an icing of the cake if thy had carried some of their Series 60 devices along. Then, I would have been delighted!

  • December 4, 2010 at 9:43 am
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    Afewgoodmen,

    Yomi, Your point noted.

    What point is this please? The rest of your comment shows nothing was noted. You are plain biased.

    If you are going to criticize, do it without bias. What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander.

    What you infer was that features like multi-tasking, copy and paste and others that was added to later ios updates were copied from NOkia?

    That’s not what I infered. I didn’t even infer. What I said was that Apple is playing catch up even more than Nokia, yet you won’t hit them the way you hit Nokia.

    What you infer was that features like multi-tasking, copy and paste and others that was added to later ios updates were copied from NOkia? I doubt if that could be said as realistic. Because other phone manufacturers like RIM (Blackberry) also had those features. Maybe RIM was copied instead.

    First, whether it is RIM or Nokia that was copied, Apple played catchup – and are still playing catchup till today in more ways than we care to document.

    Secondly, a little history is in order, seeing that your personal presumptions are getting in the way ala “Maybe RIM was copied instead” – Nokia’s smartphone devices have been multi-tasking before any other mobile OS devices were. So, ultimately, everyone (including both Apple and RIM) is copying Nokia there.

    I only expected Nokia to have started this kind of update ever since.

    I also expected Apple to have implemented full Bluetooth, proper multi-tasking, USB mass storage, and a host of other features ever since (especially seeing that the technology had been perfected already by so many others). Copy me? But I have never heard you voice something like that against Apple.

    I love this new move by Nokia. But why I am not so ecstatic however is that this new offering is not so ground breaking as it would have been, had it been done 3 years ago. Nokia is playing catching up now.

    I love the new move by Apple over the last two years to implement incremental additions to its OS too. Why I am not so ecstatic is that these new additions are not so ground-breaking (come on, I can’t Bluetooth a picture to a phone by another manufacturer!) as it would have been had it been done 3 years ago. Apple has been sluggishly playing catch up since Day One – and they don’t seem like they are going to catch up anytime soon.

    It is a good thing that I got myself an iPhone 3GS to review. I wouldn’t have known that besides its well known functional limitations, the so-called superb iOS user interface contains so many annoying and unintuitive inconsistencies.

    Conclusions
    Take a look at how I accurately applied your arguments against Nokia to Apple. When you start making those same kind of objective statements about Apple’s toys with a fancy interface but stone-age functionality, I will take you serious.

    Honestly, I am being tempted to take up a contract as a spinboy for Nokia. What the Finnish boys need is someone like me with the balls to take on Apple’s hype machinery. While I loathe it, Apple’s tactics seem to work.

    Nokia needs to fight back with truth, and hype – and sometimes to be as daring as Apple and their fanboys in throwing mud. You call it objective criticism, but you are far from objective because you only vocalise the speck in Nokia’s eyes and not the mote in Apple’s though both are obvious to you. What you do is make excuses for the latter at every opportunity.

  • December 4, 2010 at 10:09 am
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    It is okay. All Points fully noted. Everyone plays Catch-up. And Apple has done so more than Nokia.

    I have to go to the crux of the matter which is on Symbian updates. I just hope Nokia continues with this Firmware/OS/Features update thing that they have started. It is a good thing and customers would be happy for it.

    just imagine buying the Nokia N8 at said amount and in the next year there is another better phone, and you then do not have the opportunity to upgrade to that OS to at least catch up! If this updating trend continues, with good after sales support from Nokia and a choice from users to upgrade their firmware to the latest Symbian stuff in the market, then Nokia would be hard to beat! They would then take back their place that they probably deserve in the top-end priced Smartphones’ market share!

  • December 8, 2010 at 7:18 am
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    Guys check out The Nokia Qt SDK has ushered in a new era in mobile development for Symbian and Maemo , and forthcoming MeeGo devices from Nokia.
    With the Nokia Qt SDK, creating apps for hundreds of millions of Nokia device owners has never been easier or more rewarding.

    For details on all QT Tools and Downloads check the link: http://www.forum.nokia.com/Develop/Qt/Tools/

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