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S60 3d Edition Feature Pack 1

When the first S60-powered handsets appeared on the market, for an instant we thought that the basic edition carries Feature Pack 1, but this guess has proven wrong. The first phones to show off Feature Pack 1 are coming only in the end of 2006 and reasoning from the capabilities it incorporates, one could hardly assume it would target the mass market on its release. This kit is intended for securing Nokias positions in ever-growing competition with those solutions based off Windows Mobile. Today we are looking into Feature Pack 1s major parts and what it has on the hands for its potential users. But before getting to the review, I feel myself obliged to note that each handset running this update pack may or may not have certain functions mentioned below.

Operating system version. Unlike 3d Edition, running Symbian 9.1, Feature Pack 1 boasts OS version 9.2. But apart from the higher index, a common consumer has nothing to do with further peculiarities, since all applications are two-way compatible.

HVGA, VGA resolutions support (352x416, 480640 pixels). A standard resolution for all nowaday screens is 176x208 pixels or a bit higher its the screen size we see on many handset powered by the 3rd edition. Strength of this program shell always was the ability to scale the UI in accordance with the actual screen resolution, in other words one and the same OS could do well on phones featuring various displays without extra time spent on re-writing applications. By prolonging developing time, the company has been shortening releasing periods, in light of adaptation being not essential any more. In Feature Pack 1 the company partly stepped away from this approach, so that now the manufacturer equips its solution with support for only two resolutions, which are pretty high at the same time. The explanation lies in Feature Pack 1 being not a part of smartphones evolution stream, but a service pack aimed mostly at high-end device, introduced for the first time.

Is the company going to continue pulling apart its handsets, turning each released Feature Pack into a herald of another niche (a shell for a new class of phones to base on) we do not know at present. However Feature Pack 1 seems to be something of this kind, since no one can foresee mass switching to handsets with high resolutions in the near future.

3D graphics hardware support. Using the chipsets capabilities the developers implemented OpenGL 1.1 support and thus provided just enough of performance for both games and other applications. Starting from this one could rightfully assume that all upcoming handsets running Feature Pack 1 will have OMAP TI2420/2430 chipset onboard. In its turn clock speed of CPU for this platform may vary from 330 Mhz to 1 Ghz. Im taking risk by supposing this, but in my opinion volume of bundled memory will equal or, what is most likely, exceed 64 Mb in view of high hardware requirements.

Screen turning. Its widely known that only a number of up-to-date S60 models are armed with the possibility of turning the screen vertically and back. Basically this feature was meant for the transformers in the first place, namely the models which could make use of various orientation modes. In Nokia E60 we can experience a special application allowing us to turn the picture for all application without caring about their origin. And in Feature Pack 1 such app becomes not only justified but rather a thing of highest importance due to high resolution support. Another factor, arguing for implementing this function is the fact all handsets running Windows Mobile already have one, thus the company simply has nothing to do but offer just the same solution in order to retain the parity.

Over-the-air firmware update (FOTA). Update the smartphones firmware directly from the manufacturers server a handy function allowing you to avoid frequent visits to the service centers gate for carrying out that routing operation.

Advance Device Management. The capability for remote data and applications uploading to the smartphone; as well as file system accessing, using special tools. This feature will find its users in corporations, holding a wide variety of devices and being in need of updating software on them in due time. On top of that ADM can arrange remote handset block a very handy thing should you have your phone stolen. But in most cases this feature is useless for an ordinary consumer in view of controls absence. At the moment such connectivity relies on Intellisync solution, and in fact the company was taken over by Nokia, so that is how come the Finnish manufacturer integrates these features. As for the current line-up, remote management is integrated into all handsets originating from the Eseries.

Among all these things, Advance Device Management allows mobile operators to upload content of their own to smartphones of their users.

OMA DRM. Feature Pack 1 has OMA DRM 2.0 enabled for music protection, and OMA DRM 1.0 for all other stuff. Support for Janus DRM by Microsoft may be implemented into various range of devices (music-centric smartphones, like the latest Nokia 91).

Bluetooth. Symbian 9.2 holds a re-worked stack of Bluetooth profiles and the major change, making all the difference here is A2DP and managing profiles (music, video rewinding etc.) support Initially - Bluetooth version 2.0 with EDR feature set. 2.0 EDR. Until third edition of Feature Pack 1 wireless music playback wont be enabled.

Flash Lite 2.0. At the time being the 3rd edition powered smartphones carry Flash Player 1.1, while Feature Pack 1 is boasting of the version 2.0, integrated with the installed browser.

Web Browser for S60. De-facto this browser has become the default one for Nokias phones and Feature Pack 1 is going to assign this status to it. Apparently its version is to be updated, as I managed to find snippets implying so called internal procedures processing (playing back SWF files is one of the benefits) and improved uploading functions. The browsers review can be found here>>>

Podcasting. As the title says, it is an app for managing sound podcasts, letting you make links libraries, check and stream podcasts in accordance with the schedule. Though, the list of capabilities ends right here, as this program just automatizes standard actions available from the browser.

UI Enhancement. XML support was added for interface, this allows creating flexible constructions. At first this function will be available only for Application Shell.

SIP. Eseries users faced SIP not working, although such functions were said to be present by Nokia. Full realization will be available only on first update pack.

Organizer. Starting from Feature Pack 1, vCalendar 2.0 will be supported, it is also known as iCalendar. Standard Calendar application is integrated with To-Do notes. User can also send a request for meeting, note about unfulfilled task to other users, involved in that one. For that SMS/MMS, email formats can be used (meeting request only by e-mail). A message that is received by vCalendar 2.0 supportive device will be added to task list or organizer.

Synchronization with remote server can be done in OMA Data Synchronization 1.2 format (any sort of data transfer type), in case with local sync with PC, additional software should be installed on that machine.

File cache. Main problems of current 3rd edition devices are related to bad organization, integration of file cache, which causes programs being shut down against users will, it also slows down phones performance. Feature Pack 1 optimizes this function.

Java. Unfortunately, we couldnt find any confirmed information about JSR 248 introduction in Feature Pack 1, but this looks quite possible, well be happy in case you confirm us implementation of this standard.

Conclusion

We described only most interesting aspects in Feature Pack 1 for 3rd edition of S60. Its important to highlight that starting from this pack, ideology of S60 platform creators will change a little. First, a lot of functions and features were already seen in current S60 3rd edition devices, such as Active Device Management which can be found in Eseries, and Janus DRM in Nokia N91. This means that company starts accumulating new features, but its not trying to introduce them only in one update pack. In future it will allow creating different devices with mixed features (basically, smartphone will be based on older edition, but will have one-two functions of the new one).

Second, with help of Feature Pack 1 company is trying to eliminate gap, simplify transitional period to new devices. All previous S60 applications are not compatible with 3rd edition due to different security settings and device itself. Its interesting that after dropping support of QVGA-resolution, Nokia made it clear that its plans include making technological leap forward to get away from competitors, or simply limit functionality of more cheaper devices by leaving them on basic 3rd edition of OS. By the end of 2006 QVGA resolution will not be a rare thing and a lot of smartphones will be using this resolution. In case with Nokia these will be middle segment handsets, that will probably force manufacturer to limit their functionality. I believe that several updates will be included into Feature Pack 2, and it will be updated parallel to FP1, that will change S60 concept even more. Until this day every update gathered everything that was created for one. In third edition Feature Pack 1 stands out, but for now it is targeted only for top solutions, and not for mass products (their time will come in summer of 2007). At the same time drawbacks of S60 3rd edition are major and company needs to update base version (its not about basic functionality, this ones fine).

All these events occur alongside with growing competition with Windows Mobile devices, we can see that Nokia is trying to push out best solutions made by its rivals first (this is why Feature Pack 1 was created). Disadvantage of such strategy is that all business infrastructure of many enterprises depends on Microsofts solutions. Usage of similar smartphones in uniform medium looks more lucrative than anything else. Early announcement of Eseries packed with several defects was result of companys will to withstand Microsofts solutions (including showing presence of Active Device Management, analogue was included in Accu2 for Windows Mobile). Microsofts positions look preferable at the moment, since the company acts as follower, and not market leader. Losing in terms of device count and their diversification, Windows Mobile wins in terms of integration, realization speed and support of certain business functions. This clash will become extremely interesting already in beginning of 2007.

Another interesting aspect related to Feature Pack 1 is support of 3D graphics and its hardware acceleration. Chipsets possibilities are rather modest, this means that by the end of 2006, beginning of 2007 they will look even worse. On the other hand its a real possibility for integration of games, and company is using it actively. Resurrecting N-Gage brand and making it a sub-brand, should add several models additional appeal. This means that Nokia is trying to create associative line between 3D graphics and N-Gage brand. Its clear that Feature Pack 1 powered models will have this support, but some ordinary smartphones of 3rd edition might have that too (example: first of a kind Nokia N93).

Unfortunately, marketing and development of S60 platform started to influence each other in most direct way. Its impossible to secure stable level of required solutions is limited time, and results turn into instability, unfinished devices, that hit the shelves. On other hand, development direction is lead by Windows Mobile evolution, this is main rival of S60 (real or fake one thats another topic). Theres no doubt that Feature Pack 1 offers good feature expansion for S60 platform, but mostly this is correction of mistakes, normal realization of claimed, but unfinished features.

Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)
Translated by Oleg Kononosov (oleg.kononosov@mobile-review.com), Alexandr "Lexx" Zavoloka (alexander.zavoloka@mobile-review.com)

Published — 05 June 2006

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com

 

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