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Nokia N8 set for Symbian update with tweaked homescreen and widgets

Nokia has given a Chinese conference a sneak peek at the next version of its Symbian OS, with a screenshot showing new features running on an N8 smart phone.

You might think Nokia is all about Windows Phone 7 now, but the company has stressed it's not killing off Symbian just yet. That's good news for owners of the Nokia N8, as the company has revealed a taster screenshot of the next OS update for that device and other smart phones running the Symbian 3 OS.

The screenshot was shown during a talk by Nokia's smart-phone boss Jo Harlow at a conference in China, where she was banging the drum for Symbian despite the recent Windows Phone announcement.

My Nokia Blog has the image, and explains that the new UI condenses the battery, signal, time and operator info to a smaller bar at the top of the homescreen, while presenting three soft buttons at the bottom. That top status bar can be pulled down to reveal more information, too.

Also new for the Symbian update are "flexible widgets", although it's hard to make out from the pics exactly what that means, other than they're different shapes and sizes.

Harlow didn't say when the update will be made available for the N8 and other Symbian 3 smart phones. Her talk promised "completely new devices" though, as well as "improvements in hardware performance" and the "latest experiences delivered over the air".

When Nokia announced its deal with Microsoft just before Mobile World Congress, CEO Stephen Elop said the company is planning to sell at least 150 million more Symbian phones before completing the transition to Windows Phone.

That, plus the healthy number of N8s sold since its launch last year, means updates to the Symbian OS will receive a warm welcome, especially if they address some of the niggles with the software we identified in our review of the N8.

Photo credit: My Nokia Blog