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Graphics boost for mobile phones

Handset makers plan innovative interfaces

Sony Ericsson and Nokia have each announced new tools to encourage developers to create innovative user interfaces on mobile phones.

Sony Ericsson will support OpenGL ES, the API (application programming interface) that enables 3D graphics, the company announced at the Symbian Smartphone Show in London.

OpenGL is used in PCs and games consoles and bringing it to mobile phones will allow developers to build handset applications with a similar level of graphics quality, including transparent objects on the screen, said Mikael Nerde, head of planning for content and developer programs at Sony Ericsson.

The company will offer a software development kit for using OpenGL on its phones, along with a tutorial and discussion forum. Developers can use the tools to create games for Sony Ericsson phones based on UIQ 3, the user interface software built on top of the Symbian operating system.

Nokia, meanwhile, introduced Carbide.ui Theme Edition, a developer tool that lets designers create customised user interfaces for S60 phones.

The tools have new capabilities such as drag-and-drop functionality and interplay with other graphics creation tools. Developers can use them to create user interfaces for commercial uses such as branding, affinity and customer loyalty campaigns, Nokia said.

Such tools help Nokia and Sony Ericsson attract developers who, in turn, can build applications that draw new customers to their phones. While both phone makers use the Symbian operating system in some of their smartphones, they use competing user interface software.

UIQ, which Sony Ericsson uses in some phones, is built by a subsidiary of Symbian. Nokia licenses its own S60 user interface platform to companies that are also its competitors in the handset world, including Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, which introduced its first S60 phone at the Symbian Show.


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