In the past, we’ve seen some demo videos of the new UI in Symbian^4, there was also Nokia’s UI concept proposal before that, and now new pictures of the Symbian^4 homescreen have surfaced on the Symbian Developer Wiki.
These are built in an emulator, using the Qt for Windows SDK.
Symbian^4 will feature a complete Qt-based UI redesign compared to its predecessors (such as Symbian^3 powering the upcoming Nokia N8).
There are clear similarities between these screenshots and the previously released videos and pictures. However, the signal bars and battery indicator have moved to a slim top bar that wasn’t there before, and their place in the left side of the main bar was taken by a drop-down menu arrow. On the right of the main bar there seems to be an Application Menu launcher button, and the central drop-down options menu idea was kept:
The now extensively-used ‘dots’ that show you which homescreen you’re on also appear at the bottom of the homescreen, which is otherwise empty of any controls.
Here we have a pop-up menu example. You invoke this by long-pressing the screen:
Also available are a few other screenshots, that show applications grouped by category, an application search app, and how choosing your background image looks. Here they are:
While Symbian^4 is still in development, and a number of things could change before it launches, it may be safe to claim that the release version will feature a homescreen design if not identical, then at least very similar to what you see here.
Symbian^4 should be finished by the end of this year and devices running it are expected in the first half of 2011.
As for the actual usability, or user-friendliness of the new design, I think we have to wait for actual devices to get an idea. There are certainly enough differences between the UI here and Symbian^3 or Symbian^1, that at least have the potential to silence all the outspoken critics of Symbian.
However, by Q2 2011 (when I’m betting the first Symbian^4 device will come to market), Symbian’s main competitor, Android, may have changed substantially, UI-wise, from what it is today, if rumors are to be believed, so it’s impossible at this point to paint a picture of what the mobile landscape will look like when Symbian^4 finally launches.
So, in short, what you see here will not change your life tomorrow, or even next month. But it may end up in your pocket in 2011.
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