New platform for Linux-based phones

Mobile phone manufacturers will soon have a Linux-based alternative to the Symbian and Windows Mobile operating systems.

Trolltech, the Norwegian company behind the Qtopia application environment used by Sharp in its Linux-based Zaurus line of handhelds, has announced an extension of the platform designed for mobile phones. Qtopia Phone Edition brings together a range of base applications, desktop synchronisation, a user interface designed specifically for phone-sized screens, and a development environment.

Qtopia Phone Edition: application launcher and contacts.
The range of standard applications that ship as part of Qtopia Phone Edition sounds familiar. Accessed via a ‘Home’ screen, these include calendar, contacts, to-do list, notes, world time, calculator, voice recorder, email (with POP3 and IMAP support), dialler, call manager, SIM card manager, MP3/WAV/MPEG player, image viewer – plus, of course, a number of games. Desktop synchronisation is either with Qtopia’s own multi-platform software or with Microsoft Outlook.

Qtopia Phone Edition: email client and call-in-progress.
Qtopia Phone Edition supports a range of screen sizes from as small as 176 by 208 pixels up to 640 by 480 (VGA). It caters for touch-sensitive displays, and -- importantly for the mobile phone sector -- is hospitable to both hardware manufacturer and network operator customisation. This will allow companies to ensure that their own brands and revenue-generating services get a high profile. Qtopia Phone Edition is based on the same development platform as Qtopia PDA Edition, making it easy for developers to port their existing software. Over 1,000 applications exist so far, and Trolltech hopes that the number will continue to grow, helping to boost the platform’s popularity. Also furthering this aim, Qtopia Phone Edition supports a number of Java Virtual Machines, including Esmertec’s Jeode and IBM VisualAge Micro Edition. Qtopia Phone Edition will be released in the first quarter of 2004. Trolltech has also revealed that Motorola has chosen Trolltech’s Qtopia application development framework, Qt/Embedded, for its forthcoming A760 camera phone.

Motorola A760: application suite uses Trolltech’s Qt/Embedded Linux development framework.
Motorola has used Qt/Embedded to develop its own application suite for the A760. Commenting on this announcement, Eirik Chambe-Eng, president and co-founder of Trolltech said: ‘Motorola’s choice strengthens Trolltech’s solutions based on embedded Linux as a serious alternative to Windows Mobile and Symbian in the quest for smartphones’. There are currently no plans to launch the A760 outside Asia.