Facing a stark decline in handset sales, Nokia (s nok) continues to support its current smartphone users with a major software update on Thursday. The Symbian Anna release is available for download and supports the Nokia N8, C6-01, C7 and E7 handsets. The updated firmware, which includes a number of new features and an improved user interface, follows an earlier but minor update that Nokia pushed to handsets back in February. And the company isn’t done yet with Symbian, as earlier this week, video surfaced showing the next software update.
The Anna update brings much of what I would have liked to see in these four handsets when they actually launched. My review of the N8, Nokia’s first smartphone with the latest Symbian software, found improvements over prior editions, but it still showed several legacy issues in terms of usability and functionality. The new Anna software update looks to rectify some of those challenges:
- A software QWERTY keyboard in portrait mode
- Split-screen typing mode for better viewing of messages, web browsing and email
- Browser improvements for faster viewing and quicker navigation
- Refined search and location check-in on Nokia Maps, supporting Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter
- Location sharing in email and SMS
- NFC support (C7 only)
- IM and presence support with Microsoft Communicator Mobile
The new Anna update comes at a time when Nokia has effectively moved on from Symbian; in February, the company announced that Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform would power its smartphones going forward.(s msft) At the time of that announcement, CEO Stephen Elop emphasized that Nokia wouldn’t abandon current Symbian handset owners, promising support for several years. Nokia appears to be keeping that promise in the near future with Symbian Belle, a build of which leaked earlier this week and was quickly pulled from the web.
The Belle update is likely still a work-in-progress for Nokia, but it looks promising and shows at least two visual similarities to Google’s Android (s goog) operating system: home screen management and a new pull-down notification shade.