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Symbian 3: Nok nok Nokia on heaven's door

Symbian 3 is the operating system's first fully open-source release, and it gives the world's most widely used smart-phone OS a much-needed facelift

Symbian, the operating system made famous by Nokia, and also featuring on Sony Ericsson and Samsung phones, is getting a much-needed facelift with the announcement of Symbian 3.

Symbian has fallen behind other smart-phone operating systems like Android, especially on touchscreen phones -- its origins as a non-touchscreen OS make it rather clunky. Phones such as the Nokia N97 were hugely disappointing, despite their insane wealth of features, because Symbian hadn't kept up with the user-interface innovations of its competitors.

The force of the open-source movement has been brought to bear on the problem and the result is Symbian 3, but be warned that it won't be a wholesale update to the OS. For that, we'll have to wait for Symbian 4 -- pictured above in a demo video.

New features in Symbian 3 include HDMI support, so you can plug your phone into a TV and watch high-definition movies in 1080p, and a music store embedded within the radio, so you can buy a song when you hear it on FM. There will also be usability improvements, including multi-touch support and ditching the double tap that's currently required to launch programs.

Symbian's first entirely open-source release, it's expected to be feature-complete by the winter's end, and ship as early as the third quarter of this year.