Keep it simple stupid
At Nokia's Capital Market Day the company unveiled its direction for 2010, which includes a major overhaul for the Symbian platform, with a focus on improving the user interface. It seems Nokia has listened to the groundswell of concern about its Symbian platform struggling to keep up with the fluid usability of the competition, and it promises the changes in the pipeline will address these concerns directly.
These screenshots may look a tad minimalist, but they are a welcomed change from the cluttered widgets-driven home screen of the N97. One of the major changes Nokia is promising is multiple home screen workspaces, so you can spread your widgets out however you'd like.
Nokia is also promising to strip out the complexity of the system for users, promising "two taps to get to music and videos instead of eight, and email access in two steps instead of four". Hopefully this means that all menu items and settings will be written in commonplace terminology, rather than Nokia-ese jargon.
During his presentation, Nokia's Kai Öistämö spoke about some of the changes we're likely to see in the overhaul, including a "new, optimised graphics architecture" which will improve the frame rate of scrolling on the touchscreen from 15 frames per second to 60 frames per second. As a point of reference, that's like comparing Disney's Steamboat Mickey to Pixar's Toy Story, and it should go a long way to improving the general impression of Nokia touchscreens when compared to the iPhone or the HTC Hero.
At the end of 2009, Nokia's track record for camera phones is still far better than any other manufacturer, and there's no reason to think this situation should reverse next year. Large galleries of images like the one in this screenshot take serious processing power to navigate smoothly, though Nokia promises that Symbian will be "three times" faster next year, so this shouldn't pose a problem.
If you think this screenshot looks a little too iPhone-y, Nokia's intended inclusion of multi-touch gestures is sure to shake the Apples from your tree. Nokia says its new Symbian will be compatible with capacitive displays and adds that the browser experience will be greatly improved, though there's no suggestion yet that this will feature a pinch-and-zoom style navigation system.