All About Symbian - Nokia (S60) and Sony Ericsson (UIQ) smartphones unwrapped

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  #16  
Old 04-02-2010, 03:19 PM
davidmaxwaterma davidmaxwaterma is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
I've read the article and there is no mention of xenon flash. Can anyone tell me if this move to open source has a xenon flash?
Steve posting anonymously?

Gotta laugh

  #17  
Old 04-02-2010, 03:21 PM
Hih Hih is offline
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And implications for our real life with Symbian phones are??!

  #18  
Old 04-02-2010, 03:34 PM
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you CAN access the source, change, compile and redistribute the code. That's open source.

it's open source SOFTWARE, not open source phone.

  #19  
Old 04-02-2010, 03:40 PM
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I'll buy the first person who ports Symbian to the N900 a beer. Collectable at the next Symbian Smartphone Show, or whatever it is called then .

  #20  
Old 04-02-2010, 03:41 PM
davidmaxwaterma davidmaxwaterma is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enfors View Post
Then I shall provide you with a reason: The HIP factor.
This is quite important, but the market is very fickle and respond to price more than anything else, IMO. If Symbian (or manufacturers' devices delivers what they need/want for less money, then it'll work for them; and the developers will follow the money. Note that Symbian hasn't (historically) been able to make it easy for developers to make money - I think that's where the difference lies. Manufacturers have largely dealt with this issue now, and Symbian are addressing it too (I don't know what has happened to Symbian Signed now - Rafe?)

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Andriod is seen as hip. Symbian is not. Take a look at what the hip factor did for the iPhone despite its initial lack of basic smartphone features such as MMS support.
I don't think MMS is/was a smartphone feature - any phone with a camera has been able to send MMSes since I can remember. IINM, users being able to add (native?) apps is/was usually considered the feature that makes a smartphone.

Still, yes the iphone was missing MMS; but the US market didn't care since they tend to use email more anyway, and didn't really use even SMS much back then, let alone MMS.
Note that the N900 also doesn't support MMS (though there are moves in that direction from the community).

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Then there is also the stated opinion by many 3rd party Symbian developers (many of which are now former 3rd party Symbian developers), that Symbian is a beast to program for. From what I gather, Android does not have this problem.
I think this is a misnomer. It was really Symbian C++ which was difficult, and the S60 UI framework - I forget the name. ...and I think they're whining anyway. They're just complaining because it has 'C++' in the title and it isn't what they know as C++ - too many lazy programmers not willing to learn something different.
In any case, what other platform allows you to program in so many different languages. The developer is really spoiled for choice. I'm sure someone can compare them with the other platforms, but, IINM, Android only allows Java (and web runtime?) and iPhone only Objective C.
Yeah, having limited you to so few options [1] mean you can make those options much sleeker in SDK/IDE terms, and there is surely some work to do there on the Symbian front, but still.

Just my tuppence worth..

Max.

[1] Also having so few models to support is key too. iPhone has essentially one (or at most a few), and Android isn't running on so many devices yet, but I'll guess they'll have a bit if a headache when they start to get huge. Of course, having the platform open source should be an enormous help for developers who are trying to figure out why their app doesn't work on a particular model; also for manufacturers for a similar reason.

  #21  
Old 04-02-2010, 03:41 PM
Enfors Enfors is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dynite View Post
you CAN access the source, change, compile and redistribute the code. That's open source.
The question I raised, which still remains unanswered, is whether or not the Symbian Foundation will consider including my homegrown modifications in future official releases of Symbian. In other words, would Nokia make an official release of a new firmware version for, say, the Nokia N93 that I had created?

Quote:
it's open source SOFTWARE, not open source phone.
I'm not sure what your point is. Firmware, in the context we are using it now, is operating system software installed on a phone.

  #22  
Old 04-02-2010, 03:46 PM
rosh1182 rosh1182 is offline
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older devices

Does this include drivers for devices? I understand that the drivers are from the manufacturer and not the Symbian Foundation. However, Nokia has been touting all the donations of code that have been made to the Foundation, so perhaps it is not too far-fetched to imagine they donated drivers.

In the Linux world, you can use binary drivers as long as you know the API that they respond to. Is that true in Symbian?

  #23  
Old 04-02-2010, 03:50 PM
Hih Hih is offline
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Sorry for asking. Rubbish answers.

  #24  
Old 04-02-2010, 03:52 PM
davidmaxwaterma davidmaxwaterma is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hih View Post
And implications for our real life with Symbian phones are??!
I think it might well be quite difficult for 3rd party developers to make changes to phones running older Symbian firmware.

However, I'd fully expect it to be easier for phone released with the open source Symbian to be able to fix things and install those onto the device. It'll take some hacking, I'm sure, but someone will do it. I guess it's not out of the question that such firmware could make it onto older models, but I doubt it.

The impact a regular user should see is more reliable phones (really the s/w on the phones, but that's the same thing to the end user, IMO). Both 3rd party developers and manufacturers can now see all the source and see what's going on under the hood. Previously, they'd have to pay quite a lot to do that, or not be allowed at all. If there are any bugs, they can be fed back to Symbian to have them fixed (or a patch supplied too).

If Symbian don't take the changes back, I guess you could even fork the code and make a new distribution, like with Linux (though I haven't checked the license to see if that's permissible).

I'm not sure what people were expecting from something being made open source, apart from the source being made open. Are there any examples of it meaning something else?
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  #25  
Old 04-02-2010, 04:02 PM
Dynite Dynite is offline
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Enfors -

For a start, the software in the N93 wasn't open sourced, so short answer "no".

Generally speaking lets say you make a bug fix and that fix you submit to Symbian and it is accepted as a fix and is living in Symbian's mercurial server.

Nokia, Samsung, whoever; ever-so often will take the master version from mercurial including your fix and may choose to create a new firmware update for phoneX out of that new release.

So yes your changes have made it onto your device, but only because Nokia decided to use that update.

Similarly to some new feature you may submit (though thats even less likely).


Quote:
I'm not sure what your point is. Firmware, in the context we are using it now, is operating system software installed on a phone.
My point is that you are not talking about just changing software. You are talking about altering products. Nokia do not have to allow the updating of proprietry products, they only have to make available the code, the ability to compile it and redistribute it.

I'm not saying even that this won't be possible in future as i suspect it might, but just arguing whether it is mandated because its "open source".

I'm not an expert in open source or EPL but I think i'm right in what i'm saying.

  #26  
Old 04-02-2010, 04:19 PM
clonmult clonmult is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enfors View Post
Then I shall provide you with a reason: The HIP factor.

Andriod is seen as hip. Symbian is not. Take a look at what the hip factor did for the iPhone despite its initial lack of basic smartphone features such as MMS support.

Then there is also the stated opinion by many 3rd party Symbian developers (many of which are now former 3rd party Symbian developers), that Symbian is a beast to program for. From what I gather, Android does not have this problem.
Android is seen as hip, or trendy/cool? Not really, at least nowhere near the apparent level of the iPhone.

Android is going to suffer in a very similar way to Symbian and WM devices. An utterly confusing range of products being released that just serves to confuse the market.

Apple have got a few key things right - simplified model range (only the 3G and the 3GS right now), so choice is simple. How many different Android devices are out there, same with WM, and the same with Symbian.

I've got no issues with Symbian offering low end (5230), mid range (5800) and higher end (N97), but the differences between them are relatively minor. 5230 has the basics, but for an extra maybe 80 the 5800 just adds WiFi and a slightly better camera. The N97 adds more internal memory, hardware keyboard and slightly better camera.

Problem is that the price differences bear little relation to the cost of these hardware differences, although the same can be said of the iPhone and Touch - the cost differences for the extra memory are stupidly expensive.

  #27  
Old 04-02-2010, 04:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enfors View Post
Then I shall provide you with a reason: The HIP factor.

Andriod is seen as hip. Symbian is not. Take a look at what the hip factor did for the iPhone despite its initial lack of basic smartphone features such as MMS support.

Then there is also the stated opinion by many 3rd party Symbian developers (many of which are now former 3rd party Symbian developers), that Symbian is a beast to program for. From what I gather, Android does not have this problem.
What is definitely not "hip" is the word "hip". Who uses that word these days?

Symbian is easy to program for. Any good coder will have no trouble, however the adaptation of C++ that is used to reduce the resource footprint such as the descriptors and the "Leave" technique for handling errors are sufficiently different from "normal" C++ to deter some. Android and iPhone are closer to conventional programming, although the "activities" on Android messed me around for a few minutes.

And as for Xenon as somebody mentioned; since somebody else brought up the question of drivers - xenon exposures are very different from led ones. Are camera/flash drivers in the open source? Could be a valid question.

  #28  
Old 04-02-2010, 04:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enfors View Post
This is very interesting - but perhaps not as interesting as one might think.

If Symbian really would go "completely" open source, then that would mean that I'd be able to create a new firmware for my own phone, like my old Nokia N93 for example. I could fix some of its age-old bugs, and install it in my own phone. And then Nokia could consider releasing my firmware version as an official Nokia N93 firmware update. That's what open source is all about - not just letting other people have copies of your code that they can modify, but to also include some of those modifications into future versions of the officially released software.

But I'm fairly certain it's not going to be that open, unfortunately. But I'd happily be proven wrong.
You have to differentiate between open source software and open hardware. Note that EPL also allow manufacturers to differentiate on top of the software (i.e. some bits of a phone may still be closed). It's the core platform and applications that are done by Symbian.

While I think it would be nice to able to play around with this stuff it's a minority interest when compared to the millions of device out there. However it does mean its more likely that people could do this assuming they can 'unlock' the hardware. Theoertically you could compile your own version of the OS an run it on any phone - however you need to get into things like the boot loader and write stuff to the ROM etc. etc (someone who is more technical feel free to step in here).

Quote:
Originally Posted by BoyBawang View Post
So it's Symbian^3 ? Anybody compiled the source? How does it look like? Same as Symbian^1 ?
It doesn't look that different at this stage. But watch this space for more videos. Note at the moment you need to compile it onto ARM hardware, howver there should be a QNX based emulator available soon so you'll be able to see for yoursel

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hih View Post
And implications for our real life with Symbian phones are??!
Basically it doesn't mean much for existing phones... although a developer might be able to find it easier to fix a bug if he can see the system code. Going forward t means more inovative features on the phone more quickly. I also think its likely that this will increase the liklihood of upgrades between differen versions of the platfrom (S^3 to S^4 may be the exception here).

Quote:
Originally Posted by svdwal View Post
I'll buy the first person who ports Symbian to the N900 a beer. Collectable at the next Symbian Smartphone Show, or whatever it is called then .
Me too. That's two beers. What more do you need?

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidmaxwaterma View Post
This is quite important, but the market is very fickle and respond to price more than anything else, IMO. If Symbian (or manufacturers' devices delivers what they need/want for less money, then it'll work for them; and the developers will follow the money. Note that Symbian hasn't (historically) been able to make it easy for developers to make money - I think that's where the difference lies. Manufacturers have largely dealt with this issue now, and Symbian are addressing it too (I don't know what has happened to Symbian Signed now - Rafe?)
Symbian Signed continues, costs were cut - down to 10 EUR for Express Signed. I agree cost is hugely important (and generally under rated). There's a lot in S^3 that help cuts cost for manufacturers and open sourcing in general helps with that too... The third party developer issue is a seperate (alebit related issue), which is multifacted, but here things are improving too.

Quote:
I think this is a misnomer. It was really Symbian C++ which was difficult, and the S60 UI framework - I forget the name. ...and I think they're whining anyway. They're just complaining because it has 'C++' in the title and it isn't what they know as C++ - too many lazy programmers not willing to learn something different.
AVKON has a lot to answer for in terms of the current perception of Symbian by both consumers and developers...

Quote:
In any case, what other platform allows you to program in so many different languages. The developer is really spoiled for choice. I'm sure someone can compare them with the other platforms, but, IINM, Android only allows Java (and web runtime?) and iPhone only Objective C.
Yeah, having limited you to so few options [1] mean you can make those options much sleeker in SDK/IDE terms, and there is surely some work to do there on the Symbian front, but still.
Agreed, I think WRT in particular could be very important. However this advantage has been some what irrelevant because of the distribution problem for developers. Ovi Store, PlayNow Arena etc. are removing this as an issue, but there's still work to be done.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Enfors View Post
The question I raised, which still remains unanswered, is whether or not the Symbian Foundation will consider including my homegrown modifications in future official releases of Symbian. In other words, would Nokia make an official release of a new firmware version for, say, the Nokia N93 that I had created?

I'm not sure what your point is. Firmware, in the context we are using it now, is operating system software installed on a phone.
Potentially yes. You would have to submit them as contributions to the platform. However the N93 example doesn't really work (old device running on earlier version of the platform)... moreover Nokia would not be likely to endorse this. However the EPL means you could release it yourself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rosh1182 View Post
Does this include drivers for devices? I understand that the drivers are from the manufacturer and not the Symbian Foundation. However, Nokia has been touting all the donations of code that have been made to the Foundation, so perhaps it is not too far-fetched to imagine they donated drivers.

In the Linux world, you can use binary drivers as long as you know the API that they respond to. Is that true in Symbian?
I'm not sure on this - I think there's some - browsing the source yourself is probably a good way to get an answer. One of the things being introduced in S^3 is SHAI, which has relevance here.
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  #29  
Old 04-02-2010, 05:10 PM
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Open source but no drivers

Symbian is open source, but it doesn't include the (proprietry) drivers for pervious phones. In addition there may be signature checks when a firmware is installed that prevent a custom firmware from being installed.

Symbian has a reference device (some TI OMAP 34xx I think) which you CAN roll your own firmware now. The situation is fairly analagous to cyanogen's custom android firmwares (bar possible sig checks), if you can source the drivers you can flash the phone.

As for symbian being difficult to program, it depends what you want to do - it's VERY easy to write widgets (shame on nokia for removing the web server!). Check out (free) Aptana studio and nokia's examples, including porting iphone widgets etc. (phonegap)

Other options for non-fundamental software development are J2ME (quite portable across platforms), python and Flash.

QT and openC++ is now available for use, alongside or instead of Symbian C++, and these are familiar environments to say linux programmers. For a lot of apps though there's not a need to go programming at the lowest level.

Yes s60v5 (aka symbian ^1) UI is clunky, and there are still some maddening omisions from the basic PIM (CATEGORIES!! I'll say it again, CATEGORIES!! you'll need them for multi-calendar syncing, large contact list filtering eg. show only twitter contacts, and anyone who follows GTD with todos), but it's improving fast.

  #30  
Old 04-02-2010, 05:23 PM
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Great interview Rafe
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