New Symbian UI in the works to compete with iPhone, Android

The overhauled smartphone interface is expected for 2011, with smaller changes in the meantime

Nokia has turned in its proposal for the user interface in Symbian^4, with the goal of developing an interface that can compete with the iPhone and Google's Android OS.

The proposal was turned in to the Symbian Foundation on Friday, and will now undergo open evaluation, according to a blog post.

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Symbian ^4 -- which will show up on smartphones in the beginning of 2011, according to the Symbian Developer Web site -- will have a new user interface, according to the Symbian Foundation.

Improvements include minimizing user prompts, autosaving features to reduce save commands, the same look-and-feel for all applications and a new interface layout, according to Nokia's proposal.

The interface will have four main views: contacts, music, photos and applications, according to Nokia. Users will be able to create shortcuts, placed on the home screen, to access specific content items or collections, Nokia wrote.

Context-based menus, which will be accessed using a long press, will provide faster access to common commands, according to Nokia.

Nokia's CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo has openly admitted that Symbian's user interface needs to improve and is convinced his company and the Symbian community are up to the task. By the end of next year Symbian's user interface will be a non-issue, Kallasvuo said at Nokia's Capital Markets Day in December.

Prior to the arrival of Symbian^4 the Symbian Foundation will put out versions 2 and 3, which will also feature user interface improvements.

Symbian^2, which is the first open version of the Symbian platform, will, for example, have a customizable home screen.

Symbian^3 will use single taps throughout the touch-based user interface -- no more tap to select, then tap again to action -- and feature multitouch gesture support, according to the Symbian Developer Web site.

Smartphones based on version 2 and 3 will arrive during the first and second half of 2010, according to a Symbian Foundation road map.

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