Jul 202009

The folks at CellPhoneSoft’s can easily be considered veterans of the Symbian industry – having been in the market for literally ages, they have recently released yet another product for the doomed UIQ platform.

Zoltan Gyorgypal recently accepted my invitation for an interview, and talked about the past and the future of Symbian. Enjoy!

Please tell us more about yourself and your company
Originally I’m a biologist, holding a PhD in molecular genetics. I became interested in programming while writing specialized utilities for laboratory use. I was doing PC projects for a few years, and then switched to writing mobile applications, when the first smartphones became popular.

CellPhoneSoft (CPS) was born in 2004, with the release of FrontView for the first Sony Ericsson P-series phones. CPS has always been a small company, mostly consisting of myself. As a consequence, only one platform was initially targeted, namely Symbian UIQ2, and then UIQ3. CPS is traditionally focused on producing system utilities for power users.

Recent changes in the mobile industry have led to a transition in the company portfolio. S60 and other future Symbian platforms are now supported, and the first such application (Speedy Go!) was released earlier this year. Recently my friend Nandor Balogh joined the venture as the business leader.

You have recently released a new UIQ title. Do you think that developing for UIQ still is commercially viable?
The application you mention is Swiss Manager (SM), which has been one of the most popular programs for UIQ. There is a demand for similar software on S60, therefore we are porting SM to that platform. We decided to add the new features intended for S60 first to the proven UIQ codebase, and release a version (SM Elite) for UIQ, before doing the migration to S60. In this way the porting process will start out from a well-defined, complete product, and also the UIQ users received the updated software.

In any case, in the present situation I would not say that developing for UIQ in general makes a lot of economical sense. We are observing the market and adjust our activities according to the latest conditions.

How do you feel about Symbian’s decision to give up on UIQ?
I feel sorry for the fate of UIQ. This is not just because I have been writing software for that platform. UIQ Technology, as a company, may have come to an end, but (in my opinion) the platform they produced is still the most advanced user interface variant for converged mobile devices. The story of UIQ is an example of how business mismanagement can ruin the development of technology.

I must add it is somewhat ironic that UIQ was abandoned by its shareholders at the exact same time when the iPhone became popular. Apple managed to change the overall attitude of average phone users against the touch-screen, and gave a lesson to other manufacturers. Nokia responded with S60 5th edition, took over Symbian, and while all these happened, UIQ (with its advanced touch-screen offerings) was eliminated. It is indeed strange and sad.

I welcome the idea of having a unified Symbian platform. However, replacing UIQ with a much less advanced S60 touch implementation looks like a big mistake. I’m pretty sure a lot of UIQ’s advantages will be re-introduced in the future, and a lot of resources will be wasted while re-inventing the wheel.

If we are already at it: we are in for another UI stack change in the near future. How do you feel about this?
I think you mean the prospected transition of Symbian from the current S60 interface to a new UI platform, based on Qt and Orbit. Well, Symbian is quite infamous about regularly breaking the compatibility of existing code, so all this is not unusual. The reasons are understandable, the mobile industry experiences a fast technological development, which certainly requires major updates to software. However, this does not make the life of a developer any easier. One must try looking into future and get prepared well in advance, as much as it is possible.

Looking at S60: how do you feel about Carbide’s UI designer?
I must confess I’m not using it. So far I had no particular reason to switch to Carbide from CodeWarrior. Obviously time will come to do so, and I hope the latest development tools will be satisfactory by that occasion.

Signage costs and eekers have always been annoying – especially on Ovi. How do you feel about this particular gem of Nokia’s?
In brief, I do not like the ways how platform security and application signing is implemented in Symbian. While I can understand why these had to be introduced, in practice it seems they have made much more harm than benefit. Therefore, our policy at CPS has been to avoid signing our products, even for the price of losing some functionality and some markets. I can only hope that the situation will improve in the future, and security will not contradict that much to the interests of users and developers. The new initiatives of the Symbian Foundation, including the Horizon, look promising.

Do you think that making development easier is the right way to get more apps? Isn’t making signing cheaper a better way?
Our main problem with signing is not the cost, but instead the uncertainty it introduces into planning and releases. The release process becomes dependent on external authorities, that tend to work unreliably, as past experience shows. There is much room to improve the service, and I hope this will happen in the future. Improving the development tools is also very important for having a healthy amount of third-party developers for the platform. Again, the Symbian Foundation seems to play a major positive role in shaping the future.

Could you tell us a bit more about how Speedy Go works?
Speedy Go! for S60 is based on our earlier product, called Tweak Peaks, which was able to dramatically increase the performance of early UIQ3 devices by Sony Ericsson. The method used by Tweak Peaks was further improved and then adapted for S60 phones.

The exact method is a trade secret, so I rather tell you what Speedy Go! does NOT do. It is not an overclocker, so it does not directly manipulate the CPU. It also does not directly switch off animation and transition effects. What it indeed does is setting up some internal services which has a “side-effect” of resulting in an overall performance improvement.

The acceleration is rather variable on different devices, so the best is to try Speedy Go! and see how much speed boost it can achieve on a particular phone. We included a speed testing feature to help estimating the acceleration.

Feel like telling us a bit about the future of your company?
2009 is a year of changes for CPS. We have changed the organization, are entering into new collaborations, and are re-shaping the product portfolio. While we are still looking at UIQ, the emphasis is now on S60 and its future successors.

Our nearest plan is to port and release a number of existing products for S60. This phase will be followed by brand-new applications. In the long term we would like to remain adaptive to the changing mobile industry, and keep on serving users with quality software.

Anything you would like to add?
I thank you for the opportunity to talk to your readers, and wish all of us an improving experience with future’s smartphones.

Dec 012008

Sony Ericsson’s P1 and P1i still have a huge following in Austria – I see them on the road almost every day even though they are now quite a few years old. For some reason, Sony Ericsson decided to cancel its basically ready successor phones dubbed BeiBei and Paris after the Symbian Foundation killed off UIQ.

Now that the devices are dead for sure, owners of beta handsets begin to publish information on these devices. The two videos below are about 6min each, and show a long torture test of the Paris:

Nov 292008

The recent axing of UIQ marked the immediate end for a variety of unreleased Motorola phones based on this (now legacy) operating system.

One of them is a successor to the highly successful RAZR – called Razr3/Ruby, the UIQ device would have been able to ride on the critically acclaimed RAZR brand:
1211 RAZR3 / Ruby   an axed UIQ phone from Motorola’s

The picture above has surfaced at Eldar Muratsin’s blog – UnwiredView should be congratulated for the find.

Nov 082008

The Symbian Foundation has finally eliminated UIQ – the company just put its 270 remaining employees on “notice of dismissal”. This is made possible as Sony Ericsson has agreed to fund the company “on a month-by-month” basis in order to allow employees to find other jobs or start their own companies.

I perso0nally think that the Symbian Foundation and Nokia have made a huge mistake here: the folks at UIQ’s have had huge experience with touchscreen technology. Their experience could have helped avoid many slip-ups which may have occurred in the design of S60 touch…

However, the folks at Symbian’s are not stupid (even though they tend to break their arms in the wrong times). Taking over a company is expensive – but the only thing really useful at UIQ’s is their “human capital” (aka the core team – they unfortunately don’t need secretaries, tea cookers,..).

So, a load of money can be saved by simply waiting until the company dissolves and then hiring the employees on a head-by-head basis. This would rid the new owners from inherited UIQ burdens, but would essentially achieve the same ends.

What do you think?

via AllAboutSymbian

Oct 032008

The launch of Google’s Android has sent shock waves all through the industry – it even managed to kill off a few pretty promising devices which never saw the light of day. Both Motorola and Nokia have once produced Symbian smartphones: will both of them still be around in a year’s worth of time?

Rumor mill keepers have seen Motorola preparing an Android team for quite some time as UIQ is going down soon: their predictions have now become true. Motorola is now part of the OHA and plans to release Android devices soon-ish.

Nokia, on the other hand, has little to win by supporting Android. A Nokia spokesperson told InternetNews.com that his company is very happy with Symbian: as Symbian Foundation OS is said to be binary compatible with S60v3, S60 developers have little to fear…

Oct 012008

0a Motorolas UIQ phones see the white lightZ8 and Z10 devices alike see a bright light coming closer and closer (unlicensed parody of Falco), as BrightHand reports that Motorola is forming an Android team.

According to unspecified industry sources, the team currently consists of 50 employees, with 350 further being hired and head-hunted as these lines are written.

Seeing that Sony Ericsson didn’t ship an UIQ box for ages, the writing can clearly be seen on the wall. The UIQ economy is going down fast: folks, it’s porting time…

Aug 022008

This is based on a rumor. Please do NOT base important business decisions on this write-up!

The folks at the usually-reliable Sony Ericsson Blog recently posted an underexposed photo of a device which they designated as the Hicaru. I have performed some image editing to improve the exposure, and ended up with the picture below:
0 Sony Ericsson Hicaru   the next/last UIQ smartphone?

When taking a good look at the box, one immediately is reminded of the hugely-successful but overaged Sony Ericsson P1i phone. Even though this box is really showing signs of age, carriers like the Austrian A1 still peddle it to its business customers.

I can make out a full QWERTY keyboard in the right half of the screen – it looks like the days of MultiTap keyboards are over (for now). When looking at the proportions, I consider it likely that we are looking at a slider phone – the line and the size/form factor (at the B) are pretty obvious.

The biggest tell-tale sign for touchscreenness is the complete lack of a 5way navigator – the phone needs to be controllable with the slider closed. Even though SE could always run a custom UI…the company’s long experience with UIQ is likely to make UIQ the cheaper option.

I personally am pretty sure that this is a genuine photograph of a phone, as the processing has revealed flaws typical for such images. Nevertheless, it remains questionable if the box will ever hit the road: Sony Ericsson has canceled quite a few (market-ready) UIQ smartphones recently…

As already said: this is all speculation. But: stay tuned for further info as we get it!

Jul 282008

The history of Sony Ericsson and UIQ could best be described with the words “what could’ve been”. In Austria, the M6x0 series was once selling like hot cakes: the company completely ignored the product and never ever dropped a successor.

The folks at JAMPB now managed to undig a promotional video of a device called M610i – it essentially was a small update of the UIQ-powered M610 that added WiFi support.

People who feel like looking at a 1min YouTube video: click this link for fun and profit…

Jul 242008

Sony Ericsson’s two “last-effort” UIQ smartphones have been handled at TamsS60′s before – we can now report the (possibly first-ever) street sighting of such a device at a carrier.

A recently mailed-out brochure contained the G700 next to the aging P1i and a touchscreenless Samsung WMS:
overviewtnl Sony Ericsson G700 for sale at Austrian carrier A1

The device is priced 49€ with a rather expensive 2yr contract; the designer chose to outline its touchscreen and its BlackBerry/Microsoft Exchange compatibility:
detail Sony Ericsson G700 for sale at Austrian carrier A1

P.S. Think that you know Windows Mobile well? Look at the brochure page above for a blooper – if you can’t find it, head over to our sister site TamsWMS for the solution!

Jul 192008

In case anyone of you still recalls Motorola’s latest, Asus-like attempt at resurrecting an overaged device via the Ferrari badge: should you feel like having the theme on your own Z8/Z10, go ahead.
ferrari3 Limited Ferrari theme available for Motorola Z8/Z10 boxen

The image above comes from moto-smartphones. The boys managed to get their grubby hands on an installer file that they claim to contain the Ferrari theme.

As the TamsS60 team doesn’t have such a device in-house, we can neither confirm nor deny this. If you feel like giving it a pop: please let us know how it went!

Jul 152008

Blue seems to become the new black. After Palm’s announcement of yet another blue Centro, rumors indicate that Sony Ericsson’s G900 may get a new paint job soon. The image below is from the Sony Ericsson Blog:
g900 blue 1 Blue Sony Ericsson G900 spotted

As of now, no information is available about when/if the device will actually hit the market.

We could very well be looking at a repainted phone that was created for an ad or a film – new paint jobs cost approximately 50$ and can look surprisingly genuine. The example below shows a Palm Tungsten E2 that was repainted for an ad that never was run – if a small ad agency can manage to do this, bigger agencies can (and will) do so, too:
DSC02110t Blue Sony Ericsson G900 spotted

Stay tuned for further info as we get it!

Jul 122008

Even though UIQ is on its way out, the folks at JAMPB managed to get their hands onto a 4min video detailing the UI of this (possibly canceled) device.

The device includes a Sudoku game, Google Maps and support for various kinds of widgets. Interestingly, the program was controlled entirely via the 5way navigator and included a menu option for “Payment transfers” – the machine may have (had) some sort of support for OTA purchasing.

Anyways, give therm a click at the link above for the full scoop…

Jun 272008

Even though the world doesn’t look too good for UIQ at the moment(UIQ itself laying off employees); the following shot of the Sony Ericsson Paris has popped up on the internet:
0 Sony Ericsson Paris spotted in black/orange finish

I myself am not sure about what this means for end users as a recent rumor has stated that the device pictured above may never come to Europe and the USA.

On the other hand, developers have received white papers covering the devices; and FCC certification has been achieved – the device IMHO is in a more-less ready-to-drop state and doesn’t look too unattractive for average customers.

In the end, however, the release of the Paris is of little significance for UIQ developers. The ship has begun to sink – get off it asap!


Jun 252008

The rumor mill has been spinning in the UIQ department; here are the latest leaks. As always, these are not confirmed by officials of the relevant companies – take them with a grain of salt:

Motorola plans last-stand UIQ phone
The Boy Genius Report claims that Motorola will debut a “last stand” cell phone powered by UIQ in Q4 2008. As of now, little more is known about the machine – except that Motorola will sell off its cellphone division if this device tanks…

Sony Ericsson may not bring BeiBei/Paris to Europe/USA
The Unofficial Sony Ericsson Blog claims that the Paris and BeiBei UIQ boxen(sister devices to the Gx00 boxen handled at the CeBit) will not hit America and Europe. However, it is possible that they may drop in Asia.

Should the scenario outlined above become true, it IMHO is time to abandon the UIQ ship ASAP. Sony did something similar when killing off its Clie organizers(the last Clie was Asia-only); and there is no UIQ licensee left once SE has jumped ship…

May 302008

Even though the G700 and G900 haven’t shipped yet, a load of new info has popped up recently. Enjoy:

The G900 has been reviewed by both Mobile-Review and UnwiredView. Both think that the device will sell extremely well – that could mean some more “victims” for all UIQ developers who cross the chasm…

Sony Ericsson has the great habit of releasing publicly-accessible datasheets of hallmark devices well before they hit the market. The datasheets for the G700 and G900 have now dropped and can be downloaded after passing a captcha(100page PDf files) – these things cover literally every nook and cranny of the device:
G700 whitepaper
G900 whitepaper