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Symbian 3 unveiled

At Mobile World Congress 2010 in Barcelona, Spain, the Symbian Foundation reveals the first open-source release of its mobile platform.


BARCELONA, Spain--Microsoft isn't the only one showing off a revamped operating system this week. The Symbian Foundation also made the trip to Mobile World Congress 2010, where it took the wraps off its open-source Symbian 3 platform.

Symbian 3, marketed as "Symbian^3," brings a host of much-needed improvements and enhancements in three key areas: user interface, multimedia, and performance. It won't be "feature complete" until the end of the first quarter, and then it will be another four to six months from that point until we see actual devices, but the outlined changes look promising.

In the area of usability, Symbian 3 makes a shift to a single-tap interaction model across the user interface, so you'll no longer have to go through multiple steps to complete a simple task or muddle through the confusion of which menus require one tap or two, as we've recently experienced on Symbian devices like the Nokia N97 Mini.

In addition, the platform now allows for multiple home screens with a widget manager to help you customize each panel with the information you want, such as e-mail, weather, social networking, news feeds, and more. A simple swipe gesture will help you navigate between the screens, and multitouch support enables gestures such as pinching to zoom and flicking to scroll, making Symbian phone use much easier.

Along the same lines, Symbian has implemented one-click connectivity for all applications, so you can set global settings for how the phone connects to the Internet so it doesn't ask you each time whether you want to connect via cellular network or Wi-Fi. A new networking architecture in Symbian 3 also ensures that the devices will be 4G-ready.

Its multimedia features will be huge, as Symbian 3 offers HDMI support letting you plug your phone into a TV and watch an HD movie at 1080p quality without a Blu-ray player. Discovering new music will be easy with a song identification application, as well as the capability to purchase tracks from the phone via a music store of your choice. Finally, with 2D and 3D graphics acceleration, the handsets should be capable of high-performance gaming.

These are just a few of the Symbian 3 highlights. Unfortunately, when we met with Symbian, it didn't have any devices to demo Symbian 3. The photo gallery below shows some of the work done with the user interface, but it's pretty bare bones. The YouTube video clip gives you a better look of what to expect. Also, remember, Symbian 3 is a stepping stone to Symbian 4, which the foundation expects to be completed by the end of the year, bringing a major operating-system overhaul.