Qt gets support for Symbian, multitouch

Version 4.6 of the Nokia-owned graphical toolkit lets developers write apps within a single framework for a variety of desktop and smartphone platforms
Written by David Meyer, Contributor on

Nokia has released the latest version of its Qt graphical toolkit to developers, providing Symbian and multitouch support for the first time.

Version 4.6 of Qt, made available on Tuesday, also introduces support for Windows 7, Mac OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) and the upcoming version 6 of Nokia's mobile Linux operating system, Maemo.

"Qt 4.6 marks an exciting time for developers, regardless of their target form factor or platform," Nokia application services chief Sebastian Nystrom said in a statement. "Developers can easily create visually appealing and web-connected applications for desktops or devices, including targeting the hundreds of millions of Symbian and Maemo-based devices."

Symbian is the most widely used smartphone platform. The new Qt toolkit will allow developers to build applications for Symbian-based Series 60 (S60) devices, running version 3.1 and later.

The update fulfils Nokia's prediction in July that it would become possible to create applications for both Symbian and Maemo using the graphical toolkit.

"Being able to share code across platforms means that the applications [developers] create will reach the market faster and reach a broader audience of device users," Nokia said in its statement.

Although Qt has been owned by Nokia since the handset giant bought out the development firm Trolltech in early 2008, the graphical toolkit is also widely used to create desktop applications such as Google Earth and Skype. The enhancements added in Qt 4.6 could make it easier to add new effects to this class of application.

The company also released version 1.3 of the Qt Creator integrated development environment (IDE) on Tuesday. The update includes "highly experimental" support for Symbian application development, the Qt team said in a blog post.

"The primary aim is to allow Symbian developers to familiarise themselves with Qt Creator and provide feedback that will help us improve Symbian support in future versions of Qt Creator," the team wrote on Tuesday.

Two real-time operating systems used in embedded systems, QNX and VxWorks, are also supported by the new release of Qt. However, the support is provided by the Qt developer community rather than Nokia itself.

The new version of Qt also makes it possible to create animated widgets and apply graphical effects such as opacity, blur and colourisation. It also supports basic single-touch and more complex multitouch gestures within a single framework. The multitouch gestures include flicking and kinetic scrolling.

Also on Tuesday, Nokia released a technology preview of new Qt application programming interfaces (APIs) that were developed in the Qt Mobility project, a scheme that aims to make it easier to create cross-platform mobile applications. The new APIs give developers additional functionality to work with on location, messaging and contacts management.

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