Nokia and S60 to go multi-touch?

Nokia's 5800 Tube handset will be the first to run S60 5th Edition for Symbian OS
Nokia's 5800 Tube handset will be the first to run S60 5th Edition for Symbian OS

Following hot on the heels of the launch of the S60 5th Edition today, Nokia has confirmed that it is working on future devices that could feature multi-touch capabilities like the Apple iPhone 3G.

Although S60 5th Edition supports only resistive touchscreens, Nokia marketeer Matti Vanska admitted, "We're investigating other touch device technologies for future products."

Resistive touchscreens are pressure-sensitive and so can be used with wet hands, long nails or while wearing gloves. They also support the use of a stylus, such as the 'plectrum' that comes with the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic.

Capactive screens, as seen on the iPhone and iPod Touch, require a naked finger to use but can support multi-touch functionality.

Developer audiocast

Vanska was talking about the latest version of S60 for Symbian OS to developers via an audiocast, and stressed the ease of bringing other applications for other platforms to S60.

"We're saying to developers: build what you want, use what you know," he said. Symbian, C++, Java, Python, Ruby, Web Runtime, Flash Lite, .net, Silverlight and now Open C/C++ can all be implemented in S60 5th Edition, which allows applications to mash up web data with contextual information from the handset. For example, said Vanska, a photo upload app could automatically add geo-tagging info.

Tom Libretto, Vice President, Forum Nokia adds, "Being able to arm developers with the tools and technologies that best suit their needs will allow for further innovation of new applications and services, not only for S60 5th Edition, but also for S60 3rd Edition Feature Packs 1 and 2." SDKs are available from today.

Nearly half of all smartphones sold today, including 85 models from Nokia, LG and Samsung, use some version of the Symbian OS. 180 million have been sold and over 6000 applications are available. In contrast, Apple is hovering at under 2 percent of the smartphone market.

Mark Harris is Senior Research Director at Gartner.