Symbian Anna, also known as the PR2.0 update to Symbian^3, brings a lot of new features and reworks the system visuals, but is it enough to extinguish the fire on the “burning platform?” Nokia's plans to transition to Windows Phone as its main mobile OS reveal everything when it comes to the company's long term strategy, but in the short term it's still Symbian that keeps Nokia afloat. And Symbian Anna contributes to this, but it still fails to bring Nokia's platform to a contemporary level.
The update makes its debut on the media-centric Nokia X7 and the business-oriented Nokia E6. But with full legacy support, you might want to wait for the fall when it will arrive on previous Symbian^3 handsets. Below is a breakdown of the most important features of the Symbian Anna update.
new rounded icons which freshens up the menus of the updated Symbian^3. It also pleases the eye with real-time scrolling as it basically means that you can gradually scroll between home panes. The transitional animations will follow your finger in real-time, just like in iOS and Android.
The slowish stock browser on Nokia's platform has been one of our main critiques and Nokia's has promised an update months ago. Is the long wait worth it? With partial HTML5 support, hardware acceleration for smooth CSS animations and a new clean UI (with always visible back button and support for searches straight from the address bar), Browser version 7.3 is a breath of fresh air for Symbian. But while it does support Flash Lite, choppy performance was often an issue. The reworked browser supports multitouch, which works well.
full-QWERTY portrait virtual keyboard. You might find it hard to get used to Nokia's positioning of the numbers in a couple of rows instead of just one like on other systems, but except for that there's nothing fancy about this keyboard which just works. The maps application in its latest version has the familiar interface, but more functionality as it now integrates new public transportation routes and allows quicker searches. You can also download full country maps directly without using a computer.
With its dual-pane layout in the monthly view, the Calendar application in Anna becomes even more useful. You can tap on any day on the left panel, while on the right all of your appointments are shown. You can also use multitouch to zoom in/out switching between monthly and weekly views. Finally, the email application has remained largely the same at its core, but now you have more space to view your mails and you can select multiple mails to manipulate.
Those novelties, are certainly important, but while they touch on some of Symbian's core issues, they don't completely solve them and Browser 7.3 is just one example. Some of the issues remain unaddressed – the confusing navigation, outdated homescreen widgets and overall sluggishness of the platform. But even before this first major update has rolled out, Nokia sets the bar high for Symbian Belle, the second important overhaul of the platform, by mentioning: “if you like Android then you’ll love Symbian Belle." There's no clear release date for the update, but after those words, we can only hope that it's sooner rather than later.