Qt 4.6 released - Symbian and Maemo support

Published by Rafe Blandford at 12:02 UTC, December 1st 2009

Qt 4.6 was released by Nokia this morning. This is the first full release version of Qt to natively support Symbian and Maemo 6. Also released today is the second technology preview for Maemo 5, which enables (partial) common development between Maemo and Symbian for the first time. Additionally a technology preview of new Qt APIs, from the Qt Mobility project, has been released; these cross-platform APIs provide common mobile related functionality such as location, contacts, messaging and bearer management.

Qt 4.6

The big news is, of course, the formal inclusion of Symbian and Maemo. This enables the creation of applications which, from a single code base, run on both platforms (see video demo below).

From the press release:

"Qt 4.6 marks an exciting time for developers, regardless of their target form factor or platform," said Sebastian Nyström, Vice President, Application Services and Frameworks at Nokia.

"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,"

"The community will enjoy using Qt's intuitive programming interface to quickly create powerful, appealing applications." Nyström added.

Qt 4.6 also adds Windows 7, Apple Mac OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) and the upcoming Maemo 6 to the list of Qt supported platforms.

Qt Creator, the developer environment (IDE) for Qt has also had an update, taking it to version 1.3 and is bundled in the regular SDK that you can download for free from Nokia. Qt Creator is likely to become a key developer tool for Symbian and Maemo developer going forward.

New features in Qt 4.6:

"More eye candy:
Qt 4.6 builds upon the graphical improvements of 4.5 and enhances them with the addition of new Animation Framework - including intuitive state machine functionality - plus new advanced graphics effects like opacity, drop shadows, glow, and filtering.
More fingers:
One of the most exciting new features in Qt 4.6 is the ability to create multi-touch applications. New multi-touch and gesture based input methods such as flicking and kinetic scrolling make Qt 4.6 a powerful framework for creating dynamic, tactile ways for users to interact with applications and devices.
More horsepower:
Qt 4.6 challenges the conventional development notion that advanced UI capabilities normally come with a significant performance cost. Extensive work has been done to deliver the best possible performance while enabling developers to deliver the "wow" effect that is demanded by users.
Key performance improvements come in the form of a highly optimized, re-written Qt GraphicsView rendering algorithm, a new OpenGL paint engine, WebKit, 2D vector graphic support using OpenVG, and new DirectFB support."

Here's a YouTube video demonstrating the multi-touch support (not on mobile - no hardware support - yet).

The full press release is here, and you can find out more at http://qt.nokia.com/whatsnew. An entertaining summary is provided by this video (good to see the marketing team stretching their creative muscles).


Qt APIs from Qt Mobility Project

The new Qt APIs aim to make it easier for Qt developers to include standard mobile functions within their applications and to make cross-platform development for mobile easier, allowing developers to focus on creating innovative applications.

The APIs are spread across seven areas:

  • Bearer management API - controlling the systems connectivity state, get information about available connectivity options, and get notified when preferred connections become available.
  • Contacts API - work with contact data, add application specific data to contacts, and includes support for asynchronous actions which allows for remote contacts stores. 
  • Location API - access current location information (underlying API is technology agnostic), create location triggers (notified when within a given area) and access to satellite / signal information.
  • Messaging API - supports various message types including SMS, MMS and email, access to information about configured accounts and support for filtering of messages and folders.
  • Multimedia API - play and record media, includes radio support and remote media playback.
  • Publish and Subscribe API - a hierarchical data representation that can be shared between system components.
  • Service API - clients can discover and work with arbitrary services.
  • System Information API - access and notification of changes in underlying system information (e.g. battery status).

This is only the start of the project; later in 2010, you can expect to see such APIs as Document Gallery, Calendar, Sensors, and Landmarks.

The new Qt APIs from the Qt Mobility Project have been released as a technology preview. Upon their completion, scheduled for Q2 2010, they will be made available as a Qt Solution (an addon to Qt).

The APIs are important because it significantly increases the proportion of applications that can be written using only Qt, rather than having to fall back of the underlying C++ (Symbian). It is estimated that around 80% of current applications could be written using pure Qt.

Further information is available on the Qt blog and on the Qt website.

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