Symbian Unveils Cheaper, Faster Software

Mobile devices loaded with version 9.5 of the operating system are due next year, and the software is expected to use less memory and be more affordable

Symbian has announced an updated version of its operating system for mobile devices, promising better memory usage and integrated push email support.

The company also claims that Symbian OS 9.5 will now be more affordable, meaning manufacturers can use it in lower-cost phones and not just the high-end smartphones for which the system is best known.

The new version was announced on Monday at the CTIA Wireless 2007 event in Orlando, Florida. Speaking to sister site ZDNet UK, Symbian product manager, Ian Hutton, explained that the use of demand paging - loading a part of the disk's library into physical memory only when it is needed, rather than preloading it - would make handsets based on version 9.5 quicker to start and more responsive.

Hutton said demand paging also means "less RAM being used on the device, so our manufacturers have the option of putting less memory into the phones if they wish to", adding this means "build costs will be coming down to the point where Symbian OS will be available for not only high-end but also mid-range phones".

RAM defragmentation — similar to the way users would defragment a PC's hard disk — is also built in to free up further memory. Hutton claimed that Symbian expects to see a 20 to 30 percent reduction in average memory usage during device use, with a potential for reduced battery usage.

The other big advance in the new version is the integration of ActiveSync for over-the-air connectivity with Microsoft Exchange servers. ActiveSync has previously only been included in Symbian-based handsets as a manufacturer's add-on. Hutton indicated that improvements have also been made to the OS's calendar application and contacts database.

Handsets loaded with Symbian OS 9.5 will start to become available in the middle of 2008.