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Mobile & Wireless News

Symbian 3 Is Ready To Go

The Symbian 3 operating system is ready but Nokia’s N8 smartphone will be a bit late to take on Apple’s iPhone 4

The Symbian Foundation has said version 3 of the Symbian open source mobile phone operating system is finished and ready for use by device makers and developers.

The new version will run on the Nokia N8 phone due to appear shortly, and improves the Symbian operating system – the most widespread smartphone OS in the world – in various ways. Symbian 3 (also called Symbian^3 or S^3) was demonstrated at Mobile World Congress in February, when the second version of Symbian was released as open source.

Functionally complete – but is it an iPhone competitor?

“This is an important milestone for the Symbian Foundation as it marks the first time this point has been reached for a fully open source release and the time at which Symbian 3 is considered ready for community use,” said Rafe Blandford of All About Symbian, following the announcement that Symbian 3 is “functionally complete,” in the Symbian developer newsletter.

“This is an important stage for device creators and developers, but is not of major significance to consumers, other than to indicate that Symbian 3 is well on track for being in devices in the second half of the year,” said Blandford. “The Nokia N8 was the first Symbian 3 device to be announced, but there are many more on the way from multiple manufacturers.”

Symbian 3 having now been declared officially Functionally Complete marks an important milestone in the platform and represents a transition from feature submission and stability into the hardening phase. However, “functionally complete” is not the same as “feature complete,” Symbian officials said.

There could still be some minor changes to the platform – even though the software is slated to begin to appear on devices in the later in the year – following a delay to the original shipping date of the Nokia N8

Symbian 3 features include home screen improvements, next generation graphics, better data networking and a better entertainment experience including HD video, smart remote controls, interactive radio, music store integration and podcasts.

For developers, Symbian 3 delivers support for the Qt application framework version 4.6. Availability of Qt 4.6 for Symbian 3 means developers can start using the power of this new runtime, to plan new applications and to start the migration of their existing applications. Where used, Qt application framework will sit alongside the Avkon UI framework, enabling both forward and backward compatibility. Avkon is the name of the legacy UI framework that Qt replaces.

Nokia is pinning its hopes on Symbian 3, along with a general upgrade and simplification of its phone and smartphones, but has downgraded its sales forecasts.

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Cloud Mobile & Wireless News

Symbian Foundation Backs Open Cloud Manifesto

The Symbian Foundation is publicly backing the Open Cloud Manifesto and has pledged to move more deeply into the cloud:

The Symbian Foundation has thrown its weight behind the Open Cloud Manifesto, saying the manifesto can help lead to a more open cloud environment.

In a 1 July blog post, Ian McDonald, head of IT for Symbian, said, “With the popularity of cloud computing quickly rising there is a real need to ensure that the cloud is open and not a proprietary lock-in.”

Open Cloud

As such, Symbian has become an official supporter of the Open Cloud Manifesto. The tagline for the Open Cloud Manifesto is that it is “dedicated to the belief that the cloud should be open.” The manifesto outlines the challenges facing organisations that want to take advantage of the cloud.

A description of the manifesto on the Open Manifesto website defines it as follows:

“The Open Cloud Manifesto establishes a core set of principles to ensure that organisations will have freedom of choice, flexibility, and openness as they take advantage of cloud computing. While cloud computing has the potential to have a positive impact on organisations, there is also potential for lock-in and lost flexibility if appropriate open standards are not identified and adopted.”

McDonald said Symbian is a big user of cloud computing and will soon take even greater advantage of the cloud.

Passionately Open

Said McDonald in his post:

“Inside Symbian we use the cloud thanks to a wide range of providers – over twenty in fact – and we don’t even run our own file or email servers! Symbian Ideas, Symbian Horizon and this blog run on cloud infrastructure, and we have plans to shift nearly all our sites onto the cloud in the next few months.”

Moreover, McDonald said Symbian is an organisation that is passionate about being open. “The planning for our releases, the decision making processes (including the councils) and all our code are out in the open,” he said in the blog post. “As such we totally support the Open Cloud Manifesto which is working to ensure that different cloud offerings can work together and that there are open standards.”

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Goverment IT Mobile & Wireless News

TalkTalk Threatens Legal Action Over Mandelson’s File-Sharing Strategy

But TalkTalk’s challenge to Mandelson’s plan to disconnect illegal file-sharers depends on EU laws that are still under debate

Internet service provider TalkTalk has threatened to take legal action over Lord Mandelson’s plan to disconnect illegal file-sharers – but lawyers say the ISP’s case depends on European laws that are not yet passed.

TalkTalk’s executive director of strategy and regulation Andrew Heaney said in a blog post that Mandelson’s approach was “based on the principle of ‘guilty until proven innocent’ and substitutes proper judicial process for a kangaroo court”. He also warned that “TalkTalk will continue to resist any attempts to make it impose technical measures on its customers unless directed to do so by a court or recognised tribunal.”

The business secretary announced yesterday in a speech at the Cabinet Forum that the government’s “three strikes” policy on illegal file-sharing will be implemented by July 2011, unless his initial strategy of issuing warning letters brings about a 70 per cent reduction in online piracy. However, he emphasised that “technical measures will be a last resort and I have no expectation of mass suspensions resulting.”

Mandelson’s hard-line approach to file-sharing has already been heavily criticised by ISPs such as BT and TalkTalk, which have complained about the high costs of implementing such a scheme as well as the difficulties of enforcement. TalkTalk has even launched its ‘brightdancing’ ad campaign as a protest against Lord Mandelson’s plans to disconnect people accused of internet piracy without a trial.

talktalk.jpg

Earlier in the month TalkTalk staged a demonstration in Middlesex, in which an internet security consultant used Wi-Fi hijacking to download content, including Barry Manilow’s hit Mandy. Within a couple of hours he had identified 23 wireless connections that were vulnerable to Wi-Fi hijacking on a single street . The aim was to demonstrate the difficulties of proving who is to blame for an illegal download, and that Mandelson’s plan to disconnect offenders could result in a large number of innocent victims.

However, the feasibility of TalkTalk having a serious legal case against the government over file-sharing depends largely on the outcome of formal talks in the European Commission to resolve differences of opinion on internet piracy laws. On 6 October, European telecoms ministers formally rejected the parliament’s key amendment – the now infamous Amendment 138 – which allowed governments and rights holders to force UK ISPs to disconnect their customers from the internet.

In its place, the new provision reads that “Any such measures liable to restrict those fundamental rights or freedoms may only be taken in exceptional circumstances and imposed if they are necessary, appropriate and proportionate within a democratic society… Any measures may only be adopted as a result of a prior, fair and impartial procedure ensuring inter alia that the principle of presumption of innocence and the right to be heard of the person or persons concerned be fully respected.”

Rob Bratby, partner in technology and media law firm Olswang, told eWEEK Europe that some kind of compromise should be reached in Europe over the next couple of months. However, with the date of the government’s digital economy bill in late November fast approaching, the question is whether there is enough time for Mandelson to unite public opinion.

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Mobile & Wireless News

UK Troops In Afghanistan Want Solar Gadgets

MOD announces a new scheme to get troops the gifts they need in the run-up to Christmas – and solar powered chargers are a favourite item

Business travelers in sunny climes are starting to use solar chargers to fuel the family of gadgets they haul around with them – and it seems that soldiers on a combat tour are no different.

But while using a solar charger might be a “green” choice for some, for front-line troops the decision to use the sun is more out of necessity than concern for the environment.

Along with a range of other high-tech kit including portable DVD players, game consoles and solar or wind-up radios, solar chargers are on the list of must-haves for troops in Afghanistan according to a statement released by the Ministry of Defence this week. A campaign is under way to provide the solar powered tech to troops in Afghanistan’s Forward Operating Bases thanks to sponsorship from Littlewoods and Woolworths.co.uk.

According to the MOD, troops want the solar chargers to top-up MP3 players and other gadgets. Earlier this year, US start-up Novothink launched a case for iPods and iPhones with a built in solar panel. The Surge, as the device is known, is a plastic back cover for iPods and iPhones that adds about 10mm to the thickness of the phone, and has a built-in solar panel. Two hours of charging gives about half an hour of talk time, says Novothink.

The MOD released details of the wish-list as part of wider plans to publicise a scheme to channel donated cash and presents for frontline troops into a central fund which is easier to manage then sending out items individually. The Operational Welfare Fund announced this week by the MOD and The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Familes Association (SSAFA Forces) Help is an alternative way for members of the public to send gifts to troops in a way that doesn’t overload the military’s postal system – and delay mail from relatives and friends.

“The generosity and heartfelt support of communities at home is important in keeping up morale, often in very difficult conditions,” said vice admiral Peter Wilkinson, the deputy chief of the Defence Staff. “However, experience over the past two years has shown that the operational mail system can be swamped by the public’s generosity with the result that the all important personal mail becomes significantly delayed. While parcels from the public are without doubt popular with recipients, the delays they inevitably cause to the delivery of personal mail are considerably less welcome.”

In June, handset maker ZTE launched a low-cost solar phone which can be used without any mains electricity at all, thanks to a claimed solar cell breakthrough which could power other devices. The Coral-200-Solar has a single solar panel on a specially-designed back, but is otherwise a customised version of ZTE’s Coral 200, a leading ultra-low-cost phone designed for emerging markets.

Samsung announced a “Blue Earth” touchscreen phone, and has delivered a $60 dual-charging Solar Guru E1107 phone in India, which claims to provide five to ten minutes talk time from one hour in the sun.

The Operational Welfare Fund is especially important given the rise in donations to troops expected at Christmas. “I appreciate, just as members of the Armed Forces do, the public’s great generosity when they choose to send Christmas parcels out to the troops. Public support is such a great morale-booster. But I really cannot stress enough that donating to the Operational Welfare Fund is a much more effective way of supporting our servicemen and women,” said Armed Forces minister, Bill Rammell MP.

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Cloud Mobile & Wireless Networking News

Users Less Loyal To BlackBerry Than iPhone, Android

Big brand loyalty kudos go to Apple iPhone and Google Android OS smartphone users, says a new report, while BlackBerry users are a less content bunch

Apple iPhone and Google Android operating system (OS) smartphone users are a smitten bunch, but owners of Research in Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry devices have a wandering eye for other smartphones, a brand loyalty survey released today from market research firm Crowd Science revealed.

The survey, which polled over 1,100 respondents, found an overall curiosity regarding the Android OS and a “restlessness” among BlackBerry users.

Nearly 40 percent of BlackBerry users said they’d like to make the Apple iPhone their next smartphone purchase and, when asked if they’d swap their present phone for the Android-based Google Nexus One, 32 percent of BlackBerry users said yes, compared to 9 percent of iPhone users.

Among users with smartphones not made by RIM or Apple, 60 percent said they’d swap for the Nexus One.

“These results show that the restlessness of BlackBerry users with their current brand hasn’t just been driven by the allure of iPhone,” said John Martin, chief executive of Crowd Science. “Rather, BlackBerry as a brand just isn’t garnering the loyalty seen with other mobile operating systems.”

In keeping with such loyalty, 97 percent of iPhone users surveyed would recommend the iPhone to others. When asked about Android, 17 percent said they’d recommend it to others, and regarding “other smartphones,” 18 percent said the same.

When Android users were posed the same questions, 100 percent said they’d recommend an Android device. Regarding the iPhone, 41 percent would recommend it, and 36 percent were positive toward other smartphones. Among BlackBerry users, however, only 64 percent said they’d recommend non-iPhone and Android models, while 52 percent would recommend the iPhone and 28 percent would recommend an Android phone.

Google introduced the Nexus One early this year, nearly midway through the survey’s span from Christmas Eve last year, through to 21 January. Rather than disrupt the results, Crows Science said in a statement that it was able to measure the changing attitudes of respondents.

Following the launch, awareness of the Andorid OS was said to be 91 percent among iPhone users, 75 percent among BlackBerry users and 73 percent among users of other smartphones.

As AdMob similarly related in a late-February report, Crowd Science found Android users, on average, to be younger than iPhone or BlackBerry users, with 29 percent of users falling between 18 and 24 years of age, compared to 11 percent of BlackBerry and 15 percent of iPhone users.

Android users additionally had lower incomes than iPhone or BlackBerry users, while BlackBerry users had the highest incomes of the three.

BlackBerry users, hitting on device’s strength, also use their device more for business than the other phone owners — while the percentage of BlackBerry, iPhone and Android users who said they used their smartphones for both business and personal use was nearly identical, 7 percent of BlackBerry users said they used their device strictly for business purposes, while only 1 percent of iPhone users, and even fewer, if any, Android users said the same.

The most unusual, and perhaps contestable, finding in the survey, however, may be regarding gender. While it’s been reported that Android users are predominantly male, the Crowd Science survey found the same to be even more true of iPhone users. Among iPhone survey respondents, 88 percent were male and 12 percent female — bucking the earlier AdMob results, which found iPhone users to be more or less equally split between the sexes.

The Android users surveyed were 84 percent male and 16 percent female, and BlackBerry users were 82 percent male, 18 percent female.

Women were most strongly represented in the “other smartphone” category, representing 25 percent of those surveyed, while men comprised 75 percent of the group.

Crowd Science reports that respondents were randomly recruited from “Websites serving more than 20 million unique visitors.”

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Mobile & Wireless News

Vodafone To Bring Microsoft Kin To UK