App Development on the
Run”> People are living their lives more on the go, and their computing experiences are continuing to shift to their various mobile devices, such as smart phones, according to Symbian CEO Nigel Clifford. So now, those computing experiences—while similar in many ways to desktops—are becoming more personal.
“Smart phones are increasingly becoming interpersonal computers with similar specifications to desktop computers but offering a more personal connected experience,” Clifford said during a keynote address Oct. 16 at the Symbian Smartphone Show here. “People want more from their favorite device: They want a fully interactive Internet experience, the best graphics possible, seamless access to the quickest and cheapest connection available, and the ability to download, watch, create and upload high-definition video content with high-quality sound.”
Given that, companies such as Symbian, Nokia and Apple are finding ways to enhance the experience on their devices and to open their technologies to enable developers to more easily build applications for those platforms.
Click here to read more about Nokias S60 platform.
At its event here, Symbian rolled out a host of new and upgraded offerings, some aimed at the user experience and others targeting developers. Also at the show, Nokia, based in Helsinki, Finland, expanded the reach of its mobile development platform with support for both traditional and emerging technologies.
Meanwhile, Apple officials announced Oct. 17 that they will provide an SDK (software development kit) for third parties to create applications for the Cupertino, Calif., companys iPhone and iPod Touch.
For users, Symbian launched ScreenPlay, a graphics architecture in Symbian OS, an operating system for mobile phones and devices. ScreenPlay will power the richest visual experience available on a mobile phone and give users big-screen effects in their pockets while ensuring long battery life, Symbian officials said. It is designed for mobile devices with user interfaces that integrate high-definition video content, and lifelike games and animations, they said.
FreeWay is an IP networking architecture in Symbian OS that provides broadband speeds on pocket devices.
For developers, Symbian made a slew of moves to bolster its ecosystem and provide more support for consumers and licensees of its mobile smart-phone technology. The London-based company announced Symbian Signed, a program developed in partnership with its licensees, network operators and developers to promote best practices to test and sign applications for Symbian smart phones.
In an interview with eWeek, Jergen Behrens, executive vice president of marketing for Symbian, said the Symbian Signed process is based on developer feedback and has been improved to make signing faster, easier and cheaper for developers, with the goal of driving growth in the number of Symbian applications. Behrens said developers are now more easily able to access device capabilities that were once restricted, enabling further innovation.
Nokia officials also said they are looking to make it easier for developers to build applications on top of its S60 platform. With the Nokia Web Run-Time, “millions of Web developers can now go mobile,” said Craig Cumberland, director of technology and applications marketing for Nokias Software Platforms group.
The Web Run-Time enables developers to create services and content rapidly, makes it easier to get into the mobile space and welcomes “long-tail” developers to the S60, Cumberland said. It enables advertisers and media groups to extend the experience of their brands, he said.
“Anything you can do on a Web page, you can deliver through a widget,” Cumberland said. The widget is an indication of how Nokia intends to maintain a dominant position in the market despite the arrival of competing products, such as the rumored Google phone.
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App Development on the
Run”> Widgets enable users to personalize Internet content, make lightweight Web applications and stay current with the things that matter to them, Cumberland said. Although widgets have been available on PCs for some time, they bring particular advantages on mobile devices, as mobiles are highly personal, he said.
Cumberland also spoke of Nokias Open C development environment, which he said leverages the flexibility of open-source software to reduce development costs. Open C is a set of industry-standard POSIX and middleware C libraries for S60 on Symbian OS. In addition, the Open C SDK plug-in brings the familiar standard C function libraries to S60 on Symbian OS, so developers can reuse existing code and tap open-source projects for fast time to market.
“It reduces time to market by taking advantage of existing components and open-source projects,” Cumberland said. “Its all about not having to teach a new tool … and drawing upon a large pool of qualified developers.”
Apple will release the SDK for the iPhone in February, according to officials.
“We want native third-party applications on the iPhone, and we plan to have an SDK in developers hands in February,” read a posting signed by Apple CEO Steve Jobs on the companys Web site. “We are excited about creating a vibrant third-party developer community around the iPhone and enabling hundreds of new applications for our users.”
Previously, Apple has limited non-Apple iPhone development to Web 2.0 implementations for use only online and in the iPhones Safari Web browser. That brought criticism from developers. Safari-encased Web applications cant be used without a live Internet connection and do not share prime application icon space in the iPhones main window.
Apple officials did not respond to requests for more details on the SDK or why it took so long to respond to developer demands for it. However, in a company newsletter, officials said it will take until February to get the SDK out “because were trying to do two diametrically opposed things at once—provide an advanced and open platform to developers while at the same time protect iPhone users from viruses, malware, privacy attacks, etc.”
Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT, said Apples decision to launch an SDK may be an indication—combined with the much-publicized price drop in September—that iPhone sales are softer than initially believed. In a research note Oct. 17, he also dismissed Apples security concerns being the reason for the slow rollout, arguing instead that it was just another way of Apple keeping tight control on development on its platforms.
“Web-based mobile application development is a nescient market, but mobile communications developers also have many far better established and more lucrative options than the iPhone,” King wrote. “That Apple is only now announcing a plan to deliver an SDK (meaning that new third-party iPhone services and features are a year or more away) suggests either a basic ignorance of the marketplace or an unfortunate willingness to suspend disbelief in order to preserve an increasingly unsustainable status quo.”
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