Nokia fights back with new developer offerings

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Nokia has made a number of developer announcements today, which significantly strengthen their developer services and offerings. Perhaps most interesting is news of a public beta service that allows developers to get their content Symbian Signed at no cost (compared to a previous first time signing cost of up to $215). Also important is the news that individuals can now register as Ovi Publishers (previously restricted to companies) and that the Ovi Store is now accepting Qt-based applications. Finally, and the most significant in the long term, is the first full release of the Nokia Qt SDK 1.0 and the accompanying Nokia Smart Installer (previously in beta). Read on for additional details. 

Key points

  • Developers can get Symbian C++ and Symbian Qt content signed at no cost. With free tools and free signing, the only up-front cost for developers distributing via the Ovi Store is a one off €50 fee to register as an Ovi Publisher. 
  • Individuals can become Ovi Store Publishers. This widens the number of developers who can upload applications and content to Ovi Store. 
  • Nokia Qt SDK released. Nokia's next generation, cross platform (Symbian and Maemo), Qt-based developer tool kit, which is available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. It provides developers with a modern, robust and easy to use development environment for all of Nokia's existing and future smartphones and mobile computers (Symbian and MeeGo). 
  • Ovi Publish is now accepting Qt content for Ovi Store.

Public beta of Nokia Symbian signing apps for free

Nokia has announced a public beta of a program that will allow developers to get their Qt, Symbian C++ and Flash Lite applications signed at no cost. Furthermore, Nokia say they are expecting the typical time to be around two weeks (compared to a minimum of around 4 weeks previously). The new process is being organised through the Ovi Publish system. Developers interested in participating in this public beta should send an email to with their Ovi Publish username and they’ll receive more details.

The cost of signing has long been one the more common complaints from Symbian developers. Initial costs include the purchase of a Publishers ID ($200), which is only available for registered companies. Then, for each signing instance, there are further costs: €10 for Express Signed (suitable for 95% of applications) or €100+ for Certified Signed (for applications requiring access to sensitive capabilities). Together with the Ovi Store registration fee (€50), this meant the minimum cost for developers signing their first native or Qt Symbian application is $215.

It is compulsory for Symbian C++ and Symbian Qt applications to be signed before they can be uploaded to the Ovi Store. WRT (.wgz)-based applications (Symbian), Maemo applications (.deb) and Maemo Qt applications do not currently need signing.

Clearly Nokia's new initiative is going to be very attractive to developers and lowers the barriers for developers wanting to get their content into the Ovi Store. It means that the only cost for a developer to place content in the Ovi Store is the one-off fee of €50 to register as an Ovi Publisher.

Individual as Ovi Publishers

Individuals can now register as Ovi Publishers; previously Nokia only accepted company registrations. The exact requirements vary from country to country, but the move should enable a greater number of developers to distribute their content through the Ovi Store.

Ovi Store now accepting Qt content

Developers who have registered as Ovi Publishers can now upload Qt-based apps to the Ovi Store. Initially the target devices are the N97 mini, Nokia X6 and Nokia N900. Nokia say that additional S60 5th Edition and S60 3rd Edition devices will also be supported in the future. All future Symbian^3 (e.g. Nokia N8) and MeeGo devices will also be supported. Applications will be published to Ovi Store beginning next month.

Nokia Qt SDK 1.0

The Nokia Qt SDK, which has been available in beta for a few months, has now received its first formal full release. The Nokia Qt SDK introduces a single 'easy-to-use' software development kit (SDK) for Symbian and Maemo (MeeGo) application development. The SDK is a heavily customised version of the Qt SDK, with specific focus on, and support for, Nokia's mobile devices. It provides a complete tool chain for creating, developing, testing, packaging and deploying Qt applications. The SDK is available for both Windows and Linux. A beta version is available for MAC OS X 10.6 or later.

Nokia Qt SDK

The Nokia Qt SDK final release includes the following components: Qt Creator 2.0 final, Qt Simulator 1.0 final, Qt Mobility libraries, a current version of MADDE, Symbian packages, Smartinstaller packages for Symbian, the experimental Remotecompiler and documentation for all components.

If you have installed the beta or release candidate of the Nokia Qt SDK, the integrated updater will automatically update you to the latest verson, there's no need to reinstall.

See also Qt blog and Qt Labs blog (details of changes from release candidate).

Nokia Smart Installer

The Nokia Smart Installer is part of the Nokia Qt SDK. The Smart Installer for Symbian makes it easier to deploy Qt applications to Symbian phones, especially on existing phones that do not have the Qt libraries installed (Qt only becomes standard in Symbian^3). With Smart Installer, developers do not have to worry about including Qt or its dependencies on sis files with their application. Nor do they need to educate users about installing an extra file or checking for Qt library-related install issues.

Developers can package their Symbian Qt applications using the Smart Installer. When a user installs a .sis file (either directly or from a distribution point like Ovi Store) the Smart Installer component will check what dependencies are required (e.g. Qt, Qt Webkit, Open C) and, if necessary, go online, download and install them. The key benefit is that it ensures phones get an up to date version of Qt and its dependencies (ensuring applications work optimally); it also significantly reduces the file size of sis file because it is no longer necessary to included the dependencies with the sis file. 

Rafe Blandford