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Symbian Enhances Multimedia with New OS

Seeking to lay a definitive claim on the market for advanced phones with multimedia capabilities, London-based Symbian this week debuted the latest version of its mobile phone operating system.

Symbian ushered in Symbian OS v7.0s Tuesday at its Exposium03 developer conference, boasting new features including a lightweight multi-threaded multimedia framework, support for W-CDMA , support for the Java Mobile Information Device Profile (MIDP) 2.0, support for multiple primary/secondary PDP contexts and bi-directional text (like Thai, Arabic and Hebrew).

Symbian said the multi-threaded multimedia framework (MMF) provides enhanced audio recording, playback, audio streaming and imaging capabilities for Symbian OS applications. It includes a generic multimedia plug-in system which allows developers to write plug-ins using abstract and concrete classes representing actual resources and abstract components. Symbian said concrete classes include files, descriptors, sockets, audio I/O and video I/O. The MMF supports formats including WAV, AU, RAW (in various formats), PCM, uLaw, aLaw, and GSM6.10. It also includes a codec API, an audio Controller plug-in, support for sound device abstraction and arbitration, a video playback/recording/telephony framework, a MIDI client API and support for concurrent processing of multiple multimedia data streams.

By adding support for 3GPP W-CDMA, Symbian is striving to round out its telephony stack, which already supports GSM , GPRS , EDGE , CDMA (IS-95) , and 3GPP2 cdma2000 1x (Release A) . By providing a multimode API for its clients, Symbian is trying to make it easier for handset manufacturers to port the Symbian OS from one mobile phone standard to another.

Symbian also upgraded its Java implementation to include Java MIDP2.0 , giving Symbian OS-based devices stronger support for games and Bluetooth. Symbian has also included Sun's new Java Virtual Machine (JVM), which it said provides sleeker performance and will encourage over-the-air download of Java applications.

The support for multiple primary/secondary PDP (Packet Data Protocol) contexts allows users to access more than one network service at the same time -- for instance surfing the Web while also accessing email or downloading an application. Symbian said this allows operators to create multiple, simultaneous revenue streams from a single handset, each with a different quality of service and charging model.

"The enhancements deployed in Symbian OS v7.0s will enable application developers and network operators to offer more advanced, entertaining and productivity-enhancing applications, content and services, making Symbian OS phones even more attractive to users," said Morten Grauballe, vice president of product line management at Symbian.

The Symbian OS is licensed by many mobile phone manufacturers, including Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Siemens and Sony Ericsson