The Symbian Foundation today announced Symbian Horizon, a publishing programme for developers, at the Symbian Exchange and Exposition (SEE) show in London, along with new operating system features and an ideas exchange to allow anyone to get involved in shaping the Symbian smartphone platform.
SEE 2009 is the first show since the Symbian Foundation began operations to transform the operating system into an open-source project.
Executive director Lee Williams stressed in his keynote speech that the company is building on the existing success of Symbian, in contrast with rival mobile platforms, in a dig at Google's Android and others.
"We are taking a massive volume of technology, 40 to 50 million lines of code, and a massive amount of intellectual property and open sourcing it. Other open-source projects look no further than Linux or Eclipse and are really 'green field' platforms. We are doing something different," he said.
Williams reiterated the roadmap that will see handsets with the S^2 build, the first fully open-source Symbian implementation, in the first half of 2010. The follow-on S^3 build is set to be completed at the same time, and to appear in handsets for the second half of 2010, while further out the S^4 build will appear on handsets in the first half of 2011.
About 466 features are being developed for the S^3 and S^4 builds, according to Williams, who focused on three: near-field communications (NFC), a social web application programming interface (API), and a new user interface framework.
NFC will transform mobile applications from "lifestyle products" to more genuinely useful tools, he said, but gave few details other than stating that phones will be able to pair with other devices by touch instead of users having to key in codes as with Bluetooth, and that transactions such as payments will be possible by touch, but protected by encryption.
The social web API will move smartphones on from isolated applications that copy the way we do stuff on the PC, Williams said.
"Instead, a social API will have full integration so you can do mashups with widgets, and apps can reach into the contact database and calendar," he explained.
Some of this will appear in the S^3 Symbian build, with more coming in S^4.
At the same time, the user interface is set to be enhanced with the addition of the Qt framework, as well as touch capability, gestures and sensor frameworks that all developers will be able to utilise because support will be baked into the platform, according to Williams.
Symbian also announced the Symbian Horizon programme at the show, saying that developers can now sign up to have their applications listed in the Symbian Horizon Directory, where an initial group of 50 applications is already available.
Applications listed in the directory have been processed through Symbian Signed, and are published to a growing list of application store partners.
The goal of Symbian Horizon is to provide a single resource for developers to get their applications to the numerous apps stores already up and running, according to Williams. "The world doesn't need yet another app store," he said.
Also launched today is the Symbian Idea Exchange, which allows anyone to submit suggestions for new applications, features or handsets, allowing more than just the Symbian developer community to have a hand in shaping the platform.
"You can come in and contribute directly, discuss things you'd like to see," said Williams.
Over 165 companies have now signed up to the Symbian Foundation since its formation, and 16 packages have so far been made open source under the Eclipse Public Licence, including the Symbian micro-kernel itself, released last week.
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