Operating System That Lasted For More Than a Decade : Symbian

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What comes to your mind when you hear Symbian Operating System??

Well, some of you start to say it’s an outdated OS and some say its user-friendly. Okay well, Symbian Ltd. was a software development and licensing company known for the Symbian OS, a Smartphone operating system.

Symbian is an operating system (OS) and software platform designed for Smartphone and currently maintained by Nokia. It was headquartered in Southwark, London, England, with additional offices in the United Kingdom, China, India, Japan, Korea, and the United States

What is Symbian??

Symbian OS was originally developed by Symbian Ltd. It was established on 24 June 1998 as a partnership between Ericsson, Nokia, Motorola, and Psion to exploit the convergence between PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) and mobile phones.

Ten years to the day after it was established, in 2008, the former Symbian Software Limited was acquired by Nokia and a new independent non-profit organisation called the Symbian Foundation was established. Symbian OS and its associated user interface S60, UIQ and MOAP(S) were contributed by their owners to the foundation with the objective of creating the Symbian platform as royalty-free, open source software. On February 2010 The Symbian platform was officially made available as open source code. Symbian is programmed in C++, belongs to embedded operating system family.

The Symbian platform is the successor to Symbian OS and Nokia S 60; unlike Symbian OS, which needed an additional user interface system, Symbian includes a user interface component based on S60 5th Edition. The latest version, Symbian^3, was officially released in 2010, first used in the Nokia N8.

How did it start??
In 1980, David Potter found Psion.

What is Psion??
Psion is a designer and manufacturer of rugged mobile handheld computers for commercial and industrial applications.

Psion developed graphical operating systems for portable devices, primarily PDAs. EPOC is a family of graphical operating systems which mean "Electronic Piece Of Cheese". In early Psion developed operating system for "SIBO" (Sixteen Bit Organisers) devices, which later named as EPOC16.

In 1997 Psion developed OS for Psion Series 5 ROM v1.0, V1.1 and for ARM family (ARM7, ARM9, StrongARM and Intel's XScale) later they named it as EPOC32. In June 1998, Psion Software became Symbian Ltd., a major joint venture between Psion and phone manufacturers Ericsson, Motorola, and Nokia.EPOC release 6 was named as Symbian OS 6.0 and 6.1 this release is also mentioned as ER6.

The first 'open' Symbian OS phone, the Nokia 9210 Communicator, was released in June 2001 and Bluetooth support was added. The Nokia S60 UI, a keypad-based 'square' UI for the first true Smartphone. The first one of them was the Nokia 7650 Smartphone of Symbian OS 6.1, which was also the first with a built-in camera, with VGA 640×480 resolution.

Later come Symbian OS 7.0 this is an important Symbian release which appeared with all contemporary user interfaces including UIQ (Sony Ericsson P800, P900, P910), Series 80 (Nokia 9300, 9500), Series 90 (Nokia 7710), Series 60 (Nokia 3230, 6260, 6600, 6670, 7610) It also added EDGE support and IPv6.

In 2004 Psion sold it’s stakes in Symbian, in the same year Symbian release OS 8.0 which supports CDMA, 3G, two-way data streaming, DVB-H, and OpenGL ES with vector graphics and direct screen access. OS 8.0 was updated to Symbian OS 8.1 was Nokia N90, first N-series mobile released by Nokia in 2005. Symbian OS 9.0 had an issue related to tools and security they later release OS 9.1.

To overcome problem of security, platform security framework was included in the release. Which mean to access certain API’s developers have to sign their application with a digital signature. Basic capabilities are user-grantable and developers can self-sign them, while more advanced capabilities require certification and signing via the Symbian Signed program, which uses independent 'test houses' and phone manufacturers for approval.

In 2006, Symbian released OS 9.2 which is also known as S60 3rd edition Feature pack 1 phones such as N95, E71, N90, N81, N82 and 5700. Symbian upgraded memory management and native support for Wifi 802.11, HSDPA and released as OS 9.3 phones such as Nokia E72, N96, Nokia E52, E75, and Nokia 5320.

In 2007 Symbian released OS 9.4 in which applications should launch up to 75% faster and additional SQL support is provided by SQLite. Phone such as Samsung i8910 Omnia HD, Nokia N97, 5800, Nokia 5530, Nokia 5228, Nokia 5230, Nokia 5233, Nokia 5235, Nokia C6-00, Nokia X6, Sony Ericsson Satio, Sony Ericsson Vivaz and Sony Ericsson Vivaz Pro.

The release is also better known as an S60 5th edition. Symbian OS 9.5 which includes native support for mobile digital television broadcasts in DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting- Handheld) and ISDB-T (Integrated services Digital Broadcasting- international) formats and also location services.

The Symbian Foundation was announced in June 2008 and came into existence in 2009. Its objective was to publish the source for the entire Symbian platform, including Symbian OS and Series 60 platform, under the OSI- and FSF-approved Eclipse Public License (EPL). The release of the Symbian platform deprecated Symbian OS as a standalone product.

Symbian Ltd. was purchased by Nokia in December 2008, transitioning principal OS and user interface development to Nokia.Symbian^3 is a big improvement over previous S60 5th Edition and features single touch menus in the user interface, as well as new Symbian OS kernel with hardware-accelerated graphics, new features including portrait qwerty keyboard, a new browser and split-screen text input.

Nokia announced that updates to the Symbian^3 interface based on Qt (pronounced as “cute”) framework will be delivered gradually, as they are available. The previously planned Symbian^4, the major release is now discontinued and its intended features will be incorporated into Symbian^3 instead.

Unfavorable Judgment

In November 2010, Smartphone blog All about Symbian criticised the performance of Symbian's default web browser and recommended the alternative browser Opera Mobile. Nokia's Senior Vice President Jo Harlow promised an updated browser in 2011 Nokia denied any plans for switching to competitive platforms such as Android operating system, but in February 2011 announced it had signed a strategic tie-up with Microsoft. Industry analysts expect Symbian's market share to decline.

The announcement to switch to the "continuous development" model of Android and iPhone, where existing devices will be supported with new OS updates during their lifetime, has been welcomed by the community.

Well, guys, this is all about Symbian and Symbian OS. I shall catch you guys with another post until then have fun using Symbian OS, Bye.

About the author:

Amruth.H.R is an Engineer by profession a cellphone freak and a developer.

Reported By

TT Desk is handled by TelecomTalk staff writers covering breaking news, live events and more from the world of telecom and technology.

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