Symbian OS v9.5 adds support for TV, cameras, databases

Symbian Ltd. has updated its operating system for mobile phones, improving support for digital TV, cameras, database applications, location-based services and roaming between Wi-Fi and 3G (third-generation) networks.

Unusually for an operating system upgrade, where "better" is often synonymous with "bigger and slower," Symbian said the OS will run faster than its predecessor on phones with less memory or slower processors. Average memory use has been reduced by 25 percent or more, which means users can either run more applications at once, or use the software on cheaper phones with less memory, the company said. The improvements can also speed the launch of frequently used smartphone applications such as Web browsers or e-mail clients by 75 percent, and reduce the phone microprocessor's power consumption, extending battery life, Symbian said.

"Symbian has focused its engineering resource on to operating system basics, looking seriously at issues of performance, time-to-market and power management," all moves that will get the software into a greater range of phones, faster, Adam Leach, an analyst with Ovum Ltd. wrote in an e-mail.

Version 9.5 will work with digital TV systems including DVB-H and ISDB-T, allowing phone manufacturers to build one software platform for use worldwide. For camera phones, the upgrade also adds new image-processing features such as red-eye reduction, stitching together of multiple images to create panoramic views and detection of camera orientation through tilt sensors.

For enterprise users, there's a built-in SQL database, providing a common repository in which applications can store data -- Symbian uses it for the phone's address book.

The phone can also receive e-mail notifications pushed out by the network, and can roam between corporate Wi-Fi networks and the public 3G network while making VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) calls.

The update can now display text written in Brahmic scripts, used in India and some other countries. This extends the software's language support to 99 percent of the world's countries, Symbian said.

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