Symbian^3 Will Be Running On Phones Later This Year, But See What It Looks Like NowS

Details were shed on the open source Symbian^3 platform just a week ago, but at Mobile World Congress the friendly guys at The Symbian Foundation got reckless with details on HDMI support, and both 2D and 3D gaming graphics.

Symbian^3 Will Be Running On Phones Later This Year, But See What It Looks Like NowS

It'll be "feature complete" within the next month or two, and the first products with the platform will be released in the third quarter. More information is below via the press release, but do check out this spiffy video of the Android-esque multi-screens with widgets, and Cover Flow-like media player. [Business Wire via Nokia Conversations]

The Symbian Foundation today unveiled the Symbian^3 (S^3) platform, the first entirely open source release following the platform's transition to an open source license on 4 February, 2010, which was the largest of its kind in history.

S^3 is expected to be "feature complete" by the end of Q1 and the release will include: significant usability and interface advances, faster networking, acceleration for 2D and 3D graphics in games and applications, HDMI support (High-Definition Multimedia Interface), music store integration, an improved user interface with easier navigation and multi-touch gesture support, a feature-rich homescreen, and the ability to run even more applications simultaneously.

Members of the Symbian community, including device creators, network operators, hardware technology providers, professional services companies and application developers are already engaged with S^3 and the first devices using the platform are expected to ship as early as Q3 this year.

S^3 introduces major advances, which include:

* HDMI support enables users to plug their phone into a TV and watch a high-definition movie at 1080p quality without a Blu-ray player.
* Music store integration embedded within the radio enables users to identify a song and learn more about it. The addition of a "buy now" button, which links with the user's chosen music store, makes purchasing easy.
* More efficient memory management due to Writeable Data Paging allows more applications to run in parallel for a faster, more complete and efficient multi-tasking experience, especially on mid-range hardware.
* A new 2D and 3D graphics architecture takes full advantage of the hardware acceleration available to deliver a faster and more responsive user interface. Users, developers and device creators will all benefit greatly from the visual enhancements and smooth transitions that will significantly improve the look-and-feel of their applications and services. Combined with industry-standard OpenGL ES, the new architecture also provides a great platform for high performance games – all without slowing the phone down.
* The industry-leading networking architecture, ready for 4G networks, provides next-generation Internet experiences on today's devices. Consumers will benefit from the architecture's ability to seamlessly balance each individual application's needs regarding factors such as bandwidth, latency and jitter. This improves the consumer's experience of network-dependent applications and Internet services like VoIP and media content streaming.
* One-click connectivity for all applications greatly simplifies the process of connecting to the Internet, without interrupting the user. New global settings allow the user to configure platform-wide behaviour, for example ensuring the device automatically switches from cellular to WLAN when a free WLAN network is available.
* Usability enhancements across the user interface include the adoption of a direct "single tap" interaction model, making it much easier to complete common tasks on a device. Multi-touch support for gestures such as "pinch-to-zoom" forms the basis of a gesture framework that can be extended and leveraged by the developer community.
* The Homescreen takes a big step forward with support for multiple pages of widgets and a simple flick gesture to move between them. The widget manager makes discovery and download of new widgets simple and support for multiple instances of a native widget means that consumers can monitor multiple weather forecasts, news feeds, social networking accounts or multiple email accounts simultaneously through a common interface.

Lee M. Williams, Executive Director of the Symbian Foundation, said: "S^3 is another huge milestone in the evolution of our platform. Now that it is fully open source, the door is open to individual contributors, device creators and third-party developer companies, as well as other organizations, to create more compelling products and services than ever before. We have enjoyed significant momentum since we completed S^2, with companies including Sun, Nokia, Ixonos, Comarch and Accenture, among others, contributing to S^3. We are now looking to build on this momentum and remain on course to complete S^4 later this year."

The developer experience has also been greatly improved. The Qt toolkit is pre-integrated into all kits and the runtime in S^3 will run on existing devices back to S60 3.1. The Web Runtime support provided in the platform remains a key part of the developer story, allowing web developers to directly re-use their skills in HTML, CSS, Javascript and AJAX to create Homescreen widgets and standalone applications.