Day 1 for MeeGo Handset User Experience

Published by Rafe Blandford at 16:31 UTC, June 30th 2010

Today is Day 1 for the MeeGo Handset User Experience; this means the software for the handset category of MeeGo devices is being made public through meego.com. The release includes the Qt based MeeGo Touch UI framework, a number of reference UX elements and the core application suite. Those interested in trying it on a device can do so on the Nokia N900 or Aava Mobile, which are being used as reference development hardware. Read on for further details.

Key points

  • Day 1 for the MeeGo Handset User Experience. This is a pre-alpha release based on MeeGo 1.1 and today marks the opening up of development for the MeeGo 1.1 release. 
        
  • The release is a work in progress, while many components are in place (user interface framework, basic 'household items', early version of the core application suite), other are not (Web Runtime, APIs and optimisations for Intel Atom and Texas Instruments chip-sets) and the APIs have not been stabilised.
      
  • The release is aimed at platform developers, device creators and operators. The Nokia N900 and Aava Mobile are being used as reference development hardware. As such the release includes hardware adaptation for both Aava Mobile and the Nokia N900.

MeeGo Handset UX 
  

MeeGo Handset User Experience release

The release marks an important milestone for the MeeGo project as it is the first code to support touch based devices and demonstrates MeeGo's continued momentum. 

A key item in this release is the MeeGo Touch UI framework, which is built on Qt Graphics technology. This signals the first MeeGo release with the Qt application framework as the primary technology underlying the user interface framework. When Nokia and Intel merged Maemo and Moblin they indicated that Qt would become the application framework of choice for the new platform.

If you look into building blocks of the release there are components from both the Maemo and Moblin projects. For example a lot of the core operating systems parts are coming from Moblin (e.g. graphics architecture) while many of the handsets enablers (e.g. sensor framework, energy management, status management) are coming from Maemo.

The MeeGo Handset Day 1 code includes the following:

  • Hardware adaptation for Aava Mobile (Intel Atom based) and the Nokia N900 (ARM based)
       
  • MeeGo core OS
       
  • MeeGo Touch UI framework
       
  • Qt 4.7 with Qt Mobility API 1.0
       
  • Reference UX elements
       
  • Touch-enabled Status Bar including Clock, Network, Bluetooth, 3G connection, Notifications and Battery Charge
       
  • Touch-enabled applications and environment including Home Screen, Lock Screen, Application Launcher, Virtual Keyboard, Dialer, SMS, Browser, Contacts, and Photo Viewer
       

We spoke to Valtteri Halla, MeeGo Technical Steering Group co-chair and Director at Nokia who explained thinking behind the  release: "We want to do the development out there in the public. The software is not ready by any means, but we have the base line in place and can invite others [both companies and individuals] to start co-operating and sharing the work".

Moreover the release marks an important stage in Nokia's commitment to open source based development. As Halla noted, "the Maemo community has challenged Nokia for a long time, 'hey can you be more open - engage with volunteers and other companies', and now, with MeeGo, we are taking this fresh approach to R&D. R&D in the public Internet as we call it".

The Nokia N900 is being used as a tool to test MeeGo for Handsets, but there are some shortcomings (which partly explain why there will not be a commercial release for the N900) such as multi touch support. However on the engineering level the N900 will be used to test and mature MeeGo releases. As such a robust version of MeeGo will be available for the N900.

It is worth pointing out that this release is unlikely to resemble the final product experience. Not only is it a very early version of the software, it also the intention that it acts as something that device creators build on and customise. For example a company like Nokia would add its own look and feel, service bindings (Ovi) and applications.

We'll be providing further coverage of the MeeGo Handset User Experience release over the next few days.

MeeGo Handset Photos        MeeGo handset launcher

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