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5/23/2006
07:46 PM
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Nokia Opens Browser Code To Developers

Nokia is looking to reduce fragmentation for mobile browser application developers.

Nokia plans Wednesday to release the source code for its S60 WebKit, the engine for its S60 mobile phone Web browser, to the open-source development community. In doing so, Nokia is trying to unify mobile browser developers on a common platform.

Lee Epting, VP of Nokia's global software developer support program, Forum Nokia, calls the move "the clearest path to reduce fragmentation in the mobile browser market." She adds, "If developers have to support 10 different browsers across multiple devices and operating systems, it's a problem."

On a suitably modern phone, the S60 mobile browser has the advantage of being able to render Web pages as they appear to PC users, albeit smaller. It isn't forced to rely on specially designed mobile-friendly pages. Competing browsers like Opera Mobile can do this, too.

But Nokia claims to do it better. "The goal of many mobile Web browsers is to deliver standard Web pages accurately and completely, but none of them meet this objective as fully as the S60 browser," a company spokesperson said in an e-mail.

The S60 WebKit browser engine is based on the WebCore and JavaScriptCore components of Apple's Safari browser, which itself is based on KDE's KHTML engine. Companies that currently build phones based on the S60 platform, which runs on the Symbian OS, include Lenovo, Nokia, Panasonic, Samsung, and Siemens.

Of course, Nokia added some code of its own. "We did enhancements to deal with network latency and user interface-specific needs you have in mobile that wouldn't be addressed by Apple and its work," says Epting.

The Nokia code includes a memory manager for memory error handling, a mouse pointer module for easier navigation, a method for rendering HTML page frames as tables, full support for text search, a reference user interface, and other features.

Nokia released the open-source S60 browser itself last November, along with opensource.nokia.com, an online resource for developers. Nokia's ESeries (E60, E61, and E70) and NSeries (N71, N73, N80, N91, N92, and N93) models include the S60 browser, as does its 3250 phone.

Nokia's E60, E61, N71, N80, N91, and 3250 are currently shipping. Other models with the S60 browser--the E70, N73, N92, and N93--are scheduled to reach the market in the second quarter of 2006.

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