Nokia (NYSE: NOK) is taking some big steps to streamlining how it presents itself to the market — for example, cutting down the number of countries where it is officially launching its MeeGo handset, the N9 (axing some big Nokia markets like the UK); and reducing sales channels for new devices in some countries (like the U.S.). But even so, it is still juggling a few different, and disparate, businesses. One of them, its legacy Symbian smartphone division, is getting its much-awaited “Anna” update today for its N8, C7, C6-01 and E7 devices.
Even as Nokia is seeing drastic drop-offs in Symbian uptake and it prepares to offer new devices like its Windows Phone line, it still has tens of millions of Symbian handsets already in use.
It is this group that Nokia wants to keep loyal to the brand by continuing to improve their experience of the OS. Nokia has guaranteed that it and Accenture, which is taking over Symbian from Nokia, will support Symbian until 2016, so we may be seeing more updates called “Bertha” or “Catherine” or “Diana” in the future.
There are several new features in the new OS, which Nokia is offering as a download (although that may differ in some markets): a new user interface; a new QWERTY keyboard that can be used in portrait mode (seems shocking that it didn’t exist before); split-screen messaging; updated Nokia Maps (which now integrate with social networks like Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter) and web browsing.
The new update also, finally, activates the NFC chipsets that are built into these devices. While that won’t mean instant purchasing with them — yet — it will let users tap devices together to share contacts and mobile content, and to check-in at NFC-enabled venues.
Nokia expects 10 other Symbian smartphone models to be added to the Anna list over the next year.