Topping off a week full of touch-screen smartphone news from Apple, Samsung and Nokia, Symbian today released a short video demonstrating some of the features and aesthetics of their touch-based operating system, dubbed S60. Symbian is a joint effort owned by a group of mobile device makers, but the largest shareholder is Nokia [NYSE: NOK], which owns a 48% share.
The S60 operating system isn't entirely news, as its existence has been known about for some time on the blogosphere. However, this is the first demonstration of its kind that features shots of the new interface being used extensively. Symbian has released a video like this once before, but it focussed mainly on the OS's stylus-based controls. In this new video, S60 is shown being manipulated by finger touches as well as a stylus, but the overall message is that this OS will be a fully finger-operable one akin to Apple's iPhone OS and the modified Windows Mobile that runs on HTC's new Touch Diamond. The new video shows a woman using her fingers to navigate a full-featured web browser, a photo browser, dialing application and a YouTube app. But when it comes time for the actress to compose an email, out comes the stylus, as with the older video. Whether or not S60 is being revamped to be more finger-operable — or whether this video is an iPhone-inspired rebranding — is unclear, but merely the length of time that S60 has been in development suggests that Symbian is making a concerted effort to get its UI right.