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Monday, May 16, 2011

Nokia announces Symbian 'Anna' & 'Belle' update for N8, E7, C7 and C6-01

Nokia announces Symbian 'Anna' update for N8, E7, C7 and C6-01; first of a series of updates (video)

And now it's completely official: the new and freshened up version of Symbian we saw leak out over the weekend is indeed coming to Nokia's latest batch of handsets. The N8, E7, C7 and C6-01, the phones that ran what was formerly known as Symbian^3, will all be getting it "over the coming months," while the newly announced X7 and E6 devices will ship with it preloaded. The change list includes realhomescreen scrolling, an overhauled browser, and yes, even a QWERTY onscreen keyboard in portrait orientation. There's also new iconography and heavily refreshed Ovi Maps, which now include predictive search. Nokia is resolute in its belief that Ovi Maps is the best mapping solution on the market, and Microsoft's decision to integrate it into Bing would suggest that's true.

The "Anna" Symbian update will be the first of a series and has been driven almost entirely by consumer feedback. Nokia also shared some Ovi Store stats with us. There are now five million downloads per day going on from the company's app repository, which now includes more than 40,000 apps in total. 158 developers have passed a million downloads each. Full PR and video overview of the enhanced OS after the break.

Nokia strengthens smartphone portfolio with two new products and a renewed user experience

Nokia E6 extends business mobility range and Nokia X7 introduces a new entertainment device for mobile gamers, both using the latest update of Symbian software

Espoo, Finland – Nokia today announced the Nokia E6 and the Nokia X7, two new smartphones aimed at business people and entertainment enthusiasts respectively. The two devices are the first Nokia smartphones to contain the updated Symbian software, with new icons and usability enhancements such as improved text input, a faster browser and refreshed Ovi Maps.

"We are further strengthening Nokia's smartphone portfolio with these two new devices, both of which offer a more beautiful and intuitive user experience that will soon also be available for the Nokia N8, Nokia E7, Nokia C7 and Nokia C6-01," said Jo Harlow, head of Nokia's Smart Devices business. "With these new products and more Symbian devices and user enhancements coming in the near future, we are confident we can keep existing Nokia smartphone customers engaged, as well as attract new first-time and competitor smartphone users."

Following on from Nokia's highly successful Nokia E71 and Nokia E72 devices, the Nokia E6 is a sleek business smartphone with a full QWERTY keypad and a high resolution touch display. Designed using premium materials such as glass and stainless steel, the device comes in a compact size that makes it easy to use with either one hand or two. The Nokia E6 offers exceptional battery life and the best out-of-the-box Microsoft messaging experience on a business smartphone, including access to Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft Communicator Mobile and Microsoft SharePoint.

The Nokia X7 is an entertainment-focused smartphone with a large 4" display ideal for gaming, and an 8 Megapixel camera for capturing pictures and HD-quality video. A distinctively designed device, the Nokia X7 is made from a combination of seamless stainless steel and glass – delivering a solid and durable feel in the hand. The Nokia X7 comes preloaded with the popular Galaxy on Fire and Asphalt 5 HD games.

The Nokia E6 and Nokia X7 are also the first smartphones to contain the complete update of the Symbian software user experience. This update offers a host of usability enhancements, including fresh, new icons, improved text input, a faster internet browsing experience and a refreshed Ovi Maps application with improved search and new public transport routes. The renewed software also offers a strong set of new features aimed at business users in particular, including true enterprise grade security with hardware accelerated encryption, and new e-mail features such as full meeting request support.

In coming months the software update, which is nick-named Symbian Anna, will also be available as standard on newly shipping Nokia N8, Nokia E7, Nokia C7 and Nokia C6-01 devices, as well as available to download on previously purchased models of those same smartphones.

Leaked Symbian^3 Belle Update on Nokia E7 Abandons Soft Keys for Navigation Bar

Leaked screenshots of the Symbian^3 Belle operating system firmware update, the one to follow Symbian Anna, reveals that soft keys are finally being abandoned on the Nokia E7 hardware that it was loaded on.
In the picture above with the list icons, you can see the older soft-key style navigation scheme on the bottom. The right image shows the transition to toolbar icons.
Soft keys, which are two bottom keys of the device, was a popular feature of Symbian and Windows Mobile as the platforms evolved from the PDA realm to the smartphone space. In the early days, the keys mimicked the functions of two menu keys at the bottom of what are known as dumb phones, or more elegantly referred to as feature phones. However, those keys have since been viewed as antiquated, as they often pull up small text-based menus that aren’t as finger-friendly for the touch experience found on more modern consumer operating systems like iOS and Android, and instead, hardware makers have moved towards a navigation bar at the bottom, which switched over from text-based menus to a touch-friendly GUI. The navigation bar could change and become dynamic depending on the app, the screen or task at hand, and would is akin, for desktop OS users, to the Ribbons UI on Office and Windows products today. For many, it’s seen as more intuitive as users don’t have to dig through menus and the basic functions and features are all displayed in plain view.
With the Symbian Anna update, also known as PR 2.0 release for Symbian^3, Nokia refreshed the UI to give it better icons and a portrait-oriented full QWERTY keyboard. Continuing on for Symbian Belle, also known as the PR 3.0 release, it’s nice to see more refinements to Symbian’s UI to keep it competitive with iOS and Android.
It’s just too bad, in my opinion, that these recent changes to the Symbian experience to modernize the Symbian operating system comes as Nokia is beginning its transition to the Windows Phone 7 platform. Though Nokia has committed to releasing and selling 150 million Symbian smartphones to keep the ecosystem alive in the midst of the transition, it would eventually become a Windows Phone 7 house. Despite its aging aesthetics and usability in the current Symbian^3 pre-Anna build, Symbian offers a lot of features and the Nokia N8 is the best in class camera phone on the market today. It comes pre-loaded with free Ovi Maps voice-guided turn-by-turn GPS navigation, a great messaging and emailing app, and a stellar camera. There are also subtle features, such as a clock on the sleeping screen, that serves to create a refined overall experience. despite those features, it had a lot of drawbacks–constant random reboots and lag–and hopefully Anna and Belle will help to spur more interest in the Nokia N8 and E7 as they both offer excellent build quality and amazing designs.

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