3GSM: New version of Java for mobile expected this year

The next generation of Java for mobile phones should become available in the middle of this year, with handsets featuring applications built with the new version expected to reach the market at the end of the year or early next, Sun Microsystems Inc. said Wednesday at the 3GSM World Congress.

The Java Community Process, which determines which features and functions are included in different forms of Java, has been working on defining the next version of Java for mobile phones, said Eric Chu, senior director of mobile and embedded systems for Sun. The new version will allow developers to create applications that can take advantage of additional capabilities on handsets, such as Bluetooth or location information, Chu said. Such new features are continually defined by Java contributors and every few years the features are collected and wrapped into a new version of Java, he said.

Companies like Vodafone Group PLC, Nokia Corp. and Motorola Inc. have been involved in the development process and so they're already working on handsets with the new Java, Chu said. That explains the relatively short time expected between the release of the new version and the release of handsets, he said.

Sun also announced at 3GSM in Barcelona a partnership with Openwave Systems Inc. to integrate Java for mobile phones with Openwave's markup language. The integration means that developers can build applications using Java as well as Openwave's language based on XML (Extensible Markup Language) and link between the two, said Jon McCormack, senior vice president of engineering for Openwave.

Most handsets, even the low-end mass market phones, include Java Virtual Machine to enable Java applications and are capable of displaying applications written in Openwave's markup language, Chu said. By linking the two, Sun and Openwave expect that application developers can bring more interesting content and applications to mass market phone users, McCormack said.

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