Nokia has unveiled it’s latest incarnation of the long standing Symbian operating system, named Symbian Belle. Nokia believes that this latest version of Symbian will provide a legitimate contender to the likes of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.
Symbian is Nokia’s long standing operating system, but has appeared increasing out of date as the OS has struggled with touchscreen phones and other operating systems have surged ahead in terms of usability and market share.
Francisco Jeronimo, research manager European mobile devices with analyst IDC, has said “For the first time, the user interface and user experience of Symbian Belle significantly closes the gap with Android and Apple iOS user interfaces… If Nokia had launched this new Symbian Belle one year ago, the company would have remained the worldwide smartphone market leader".
This latest incarnation of Symbian is the second major version release in six months after Symbian Anna in May this year, which in turn replaced Symbian^3. The three most recent uppdates also mark a departure from the traditional, but rather long winded, naming system such as the Symbian Series 60 5th Edition.
Recently Nokia has struggled with a change of leadership, employee walkouts, declining sales and a demotion from being the world’s number one phone maker. While Nokia continues to release new phone models at a fast pace, major updates to their operating system have been considerably slower.
However, while Google and Apple appear to work in OS release cycles of 12 months, Nokia appears to be aiming for a 6 month cycle indicating that the phone giant might at last be fighting back.
All this of course is against the backdrop of Nokia teaming up with Microsoft and committing to the Windows Phone OS for their future interfaces. Nokia has however stated that Symbian will play an important role as the company migrates to Window Phone and they will continue updating Symbian into 2012.
While Nokia fights for survival and tries to remain relevant, the new naming convention appears designed to convey a sense that each new Symbian version is more of a leap forward, rather than a minor update – keeping loyal Symbian users satisfied that their OS is relevant in today’s fast changing smartphone market.
New features of Symbian Belle include:
– A larger desktop area for the homescreens, allowing space for more applications
– Increasing the number of home screens from three to six
– Live widgets can come in a range of different sizes (up to 5)
– Notifications are available from a pull-down menu
– Web browsing has undergone further enhancements and speed improvements
– Updates over-the-air or via PC
– Near Field Communication (NFC) sharing and pairing from a single keyboard press. NFC is seen as the successor to Bluetooth and allows pairing between phones and other hardware as well as sharing of videos, images and contacts
Symbian Belle will initially be rolled out in Quarter 3 with Nokia’s 600, 700 and 701 phones, but should also be upgradeable on existing Symbian^3 and Anna devices like the Nokia N8, E6, E7, X7, C6 and C7.