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Symbian Promises To Make Mobile Phones Faster, With Richer Graphics

ScreenPlay is a new graphics architecture designed to integrate high-definition video content, lifelike games, and animation on mobile devices.

Symbian, the world's No. 1 mobile operating system maker, is developing two mobile technologies that will make smartphones faster and richer in graphics in the future, the company said this week.

The first technology introduced by Symbian is called ScreenPlay, a new graphics architecture in Symbian OS. It will create a rich visual experience on smartphones with user interfaces that integrate high-definition video content, lifelike games, and animation. Manufacturers can use the architecture to build graphically abundant applications that use transition effects, transparency, and overlays.

ScreenPlay promises maximum performance regardless of a mobile device. It works in software on midrange devices and utilizes hardware acceleration on high-end devices. The device's battery life is not compromised because Symbian designed the architecture to be energy efficient, according to the company.

"We're bringing a desktop-like experience to mobile devices. Today this type of capability is only available on desktop operating systems like Mac OS X and Windows Vista," said Jørgen Behrens, Symbian's executive VP of marketing, in an interview.

The other technology is called FreeWay, a new Internet Protocol networking architecture in Symbian OS. It has the capability to create a broadband-like experience on smartphones, including superfast download speeds, high resolution audio and video streaming, and good-quality voice-over-IP calls without latency and jitter.

Symbian demonstrated FreeWay at its Smartphone Show in London this week and showed that it's possible to achieve speeds of over 120 Mbps on existing hardware. The speeds will increase on faster hardware in the future, Behrens said.

FreeWay supplies the high bandwidth, but the speeds will ultimately depend on availability of high-speed wireless services like WiMax and Long Term Evolution, also known as "super 3G." Smartphones that use the FreeWay architecture will be able to switch among different types of networks without losing a connection.

Intel has said that 2008 will be "the year of WiMax." Several providers claim to have rolled out mobile WiMax in the United States recently.

"We feel that we're at the start of a radical change. Smartphones are becoming more mainstream computers than simply phones. They're showing more desktop features," said Behrens. "We've made our operating system a lot more scalable with these developments."

Symbian already made ScreenPlay and FreeWay available to mobile device makers, but they won't be commercially available until the end of next year or early 2009.

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