Symbian Ltd is planning major upgrades to the wireless email and calendar capabilities of its mobile operating system. The improvements should greatly ease third-party application development while also improving the out-of-box email and PIM experience for users of Symbian smart phones.
Symbian head of enterprise, Andrew Moran, outlined the London, UK-based company’s intentions at the Nokia Enterprise Summit in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, late last week.
The specific advances outlined cover a number of major functional improvements to the base OS that will be available to all Symbian licensees and Symbian device users irrespective of the user interface variant. Although only sparse details were available, these include built-in support for both push email, along the lines of RIM’s BlackBerry, and browser-based email, the latter intended to appeal to smaller businesses.
Groupware functions such as the scheduling of group meetings will also be catered for, with assistance from Symbian partners such as IBM. Some of the roadmap update is a direct reflection of the work Symbian has done with WebSphere, said Moran.
Built-in vCard and vCalendar personal data interchange information support, including the more advanced iCalendar and iTip (iCalendar Transport-Independent Interoperability Protocol), will enable the automatic updating of calendar entries according to time zones, helping participants in different countries or regions to synchronize their activities.
A number of email configuration and management features will also be included as will updates to device and connectivity security.
[Symbian devices] have to work with existing back ends. We need to offer enterprises mobility without the need to upgrade, said Moran. There is some email functionality in Exchange 2003, but Exchange 5.5 and 2000 are still being run by the majority of the installed base. And 40% of larger companies use Lotus Notes. Moran said the upgrades were given the green light in June and are scheduled to see the light of day in mid-2005.
Email and groupware functionality were top of the list of Symbian OS updates outlined. But while they indicate an increasing sedimentation of key communications functionality into Symbian OS, Moran said they do not indicate an intention by Symbian to subsume other functions leaving room for third parties to innovate at the application level.
Symbian makes the core OS. In terms of PIM functionality we’ll own the stores and the APIs, he said. At what point do we start to infringe on the businesses of our developers? It’s hard for use to say we’ll never ever enter into areas that will impinge on our developers.
Built-in word processing and spreadsheet applications, such as Microsoft provides in Windows Mobile, seem unlikely in this light.