A 'Composite multi-transport' device? Yep, Symbian to the rescue - again

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Obviously I'm 'preaching to the choir here', but I noticed a label in a Windows dialog yesterday and it brought back some happy memories of ways in which the super-versatile, super-flexible Symbian OS has helped friends out in ways that I'm sure other mobile OS would baulk at... Your comments and testimony welcomed too!

You see, I plugged in my (now two year old!) Nokia E6 into Windows 7 (to do some map updates) and saw the following dialog:


It was Windows description of the E6 that caught my eye. 'Composite Multi Transport Device'. I'm not sure what Windows means exactly here, but it triggered memories of the many times being a Symbian user has saved the day, in terms of the versatility at getting data in and out.

Purely off the top of my head (I'm sure I could rustle up many more examples):

  • The date was 2002-ish and I was a Nokia 9210 Communicator user. One of my friends had an important Word document that was corrupt on his (Windows 98?) PC and was tearing his hair out. After 15 minutes of trying everything, I suggested plugging my 9210 in and copying the file over, just in case I could help. To his great surprise, the 9210 was able to import the file (with minimal formatting loss) and then re-save it in (I believe, this was all a long time ago!) Word 97 format. We then copied this back over the wire to his PC and he was up and running. Cue much celebration!
  • Five years ago, miles from home at a relative's house, I had been taking photos on a day out with my Nokia N95. Some of the photos were stunning and my relatives expressed an interest in having a printed copy of each. They didn't have Wifi or high speed broadband (remember, this was 2007) and they weren't particular technical, so my options were somewhat limited, but I did notice that their new printer had a SD card slot. Happily, one of the things I always carry in my travel bag is a microSD-to-SD adapter, so I simply popped out the card, inserted it, via the adapter, into the printer, picked the photos I wanted and started printing, there and then.
  • Finally, just this week, I had a video captured on the Blackberry Z10 (for my Phones Show 194 review) that I just could not get over to my Mac. In theory, it should have worked via a (hidden) mass storage mode, but not, that decided not to work for me. I tried Bluetoothing it to the Mac, but no, the two Bluetooth stacks didn't want to play ball either. The video was 60MB and too big to email. Time for lateral thinking. I had the aforementioned Nokia E6 to hand and tried Bluetoothing the file from the Z10 to the Symbian-powered E6, with success (of course it was going to work - Symbian's Bluetooth profiles are second to none and work with everything in the known universe). Then I just plugged the E6 into the Mac in mass storage mode and I was off to the races.

In fact, I do rather take such flexibility for granted that it comes as a total shock when I try and plug in an iPhone or Blackberry or modern Android phone and things don't 'just work', or I try and Bluetooth a file from one of these to another device and get an error message. For a decade of Symbian, USB disk transfers and Bluetooth beaming has always (very nearly) worked first time. 

Yes, Symbian's older as an OS and thus more mature, but the lack of 'multi transport' in its newer, rival operating systems does annoy me sometimes. I can't believe getting files and objects from A to B is still rocket science....

I and others often evangelise Symbian smartphones for their multitasking, their battery efficiency, their gadgets (camera, FM transmitter, USB on the go), their better build quality or components, their offline mapping prowess (when no other smartphone's maps even load because there's not enough signal), their use of profiles (for instant switching between groups of settings). But a big a factor, for geeks like me anyway, is the sheer versatility.

'Composite Multi Transport' indeed. I don't care how geeky that sounds. To me it's just plain useful.

Now, over to you, what testimonies do you have of how the versatility of Symbian (which, contrary to popular opinion, is still alive) saved the day?