Nokia Adds Touch to S60 Platform

Nokia's upcoming smart-phone platform will let developers build touch-enabled applications.

LONDON—Nokia has announced new innovations for its S60 platform that it says will enable developers to build applications that support touch capabilities, sensor technologies and a complete Web video experience.

While the introduction comes several months after Apple unveiled its touch-sensitive iPhone, Nokia officials maintain that the S60 is in no way a me-too product. They said Nokia began working on the underlying technology considerably before the iPhone was even an apple in Steve Jobs eye, and said Nokias sensor technology will give developers opportunities to create more sophisticated context-aware applications than are possible on the iPhone.

Lee Williams, senior vice president of software platforms at Nokia, headquartered in Espoo, Finland, said with the new features to come in the next version of the S60 platform, existing S60 3.0 applications will be able to run on touch-enabled devices unmodified. And tools will be made available for developers to further optimize the touch experience of their applications. Williams delivered a keynote speech and later spoke with reporters at the Symbian Smartphone Show here on Oct. 16.


Click here to read more about Nokias open platform for mobile applications development.

Nokias S60 will introduce new features that enhance the user experience and enable manufacturers, developers and operators to design new types of mobile devices, applications and services, Williams said

The touch user interface in S60 smart-phone software will offer licensees the opportunity to develop devices with a variety of input methods, such as touch-screen with a traditional keypad, touch-screen with a QWERTY keyboard or touch-screen alone, supporting both finger- and stylus-optimized input, in addition to the range of access options that already exist today, the company said.

The S60 touch UI comes with support for tactile feedback, meaning there is a physical pulse of feedback when the user taps on the screen. This provides better awareness of the devices response, improving the user experience.

The upcoming edition of the S60 platform will be known as S60 5.0 and will be available in 2008, Williams said. He said Nokia is skipping a Version 4.0 "out of respect for our friends in China," where the number four is considered unlucky.

"In 2008 we will have touch capabilities available to the full community," Williams said. "We didnt just take some of this technology and sprinkle it in; weve had this under development for some time."

Williams noted that people have asked, "Are you following the iPhone?" Harking back to his comment that Nokias developers have been working on touch capability, Williams response to the iPhone question was, "In no way." He added: "I have an iPhone, but it would be great if it had the tactile feedback we have."

Meanwhile, Williams said that from motion and orientation to proximity and light, sensor technology is expanding to new areas and shaping the future for mobile phones. S60 brings sensor support to the platform as a generic solution, enabling support for a range of sensors in S60 devices. These technologies open up a new kinetic world to the user and offer completely new opportunities for application and game developers, he said.

"We have use cases where you can pick up your phone or tap it twice to silence an alarm," Williams said. "Or you can simply turn it over," he added regarding the new sensor capabilities in the S60 platform.

Also, the new UI Accelerator tool kit will allow device manufacturers to rapidly and easily develop impressive graphical effects and new types of interactions, further increasing the appeal of devices to users, he said. And the S60 mobile software platform will deliver the complete Web video experience, as Flash Video will be integrated with the Web browser for S60. This allows people to view Flash-enabled Web sites and Flash Video, such as YouTube, on the go as they would on their desktops, he said.


Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools.