Nokia's latest-generation Nseries phone, the N97, was released today officially beginning the era of programmable widgets and the bundling of the Ovi apps and content store.
The N97 has no shortage of features with a “tilt-slide” 3.5-inch touchscreen display, qwerty keyboard, 32GB on-board memory (up to 48GB with a 16GB SD card), and a five megapixel camera.
The standard connectivity options are there with HSDPA, Wi-Fi (b/g), microUSB (USB 2.0), and Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR.
Symbian S60 5th Edition is the N97's operating system.
But what sets the N97 apart from its predecessors is its native support for widgets and the Ovi store, which was launched independently in May.
Nokia Australia and New Zealand general manager Emile Baak said the N97 is the first device to ship with Ovi installed giving it access to some 20,000 applications and other content, both paid-for and free.
Baak said the convergence of the Internet, mobility and context-awareness is changing the way people consume information.
“Location-based services and mobile-Internet convergence is in full swing,” Baak said, adding the weather widget updates according to the phone's location.
Another example of this convergence is with social networking on mobile devices and the N97 introduces a Facebook widget, with MySpace on the way.
Like the Ovi store, widgets have been seen on other Nokia devices, but the N97 promotes them to the main screen and a SDK is available to all parties, not just Nokia.
Nokia Australia's N97 product marketing manager Gill Hollister said widget development is open to any individual and organisation, and so far Nokia itself has led the charge with widgets for Exchange e-mail access among others.
“We will start to see widgets on more touchscreen devices,” Hollister said, adding widget development does not have to go through the Ovi store and can be developed for in-house use by an enterprise.
Apps and widgets delivered through Ovi.com go through a Nokia approval process.
Widgets, as opposed to traditional applications, tend to be more single-purpose apps form-factored for quick and easy access and have been made famous on mobile devices by the iPhone, Android and Windows Mobile. Now S60 ships with native widgets.
Baak said application development will be the next focus for the entire mobile industry.
“Tech specs only make sense if apps make sense of consumers,” he said.
The Nokia N97 is available through Optus and Vodafone for a recommended price of $1,129.