Home > Nokia > How would YOU change the Symbian UI

How would YOU change the Symbian UI

Having read a vast number of articles, comments, blog posts concerning the problems surrounding the current Symbian UI, I thought it’d be a great idea to engender a bit of useful, constructive discussion on the matter by our ever vocal, but small readership.

How would you change the Symbian UI?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

The Symbian Foundation also welcomes new ideas for their projects and you can contribute some of your ideas there as well.


Categories: Nokia
  1. Roger Johnson
    July 9, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    I wouldn’t. Symbian^3 followed by Symbian^4 looks fine to me. Seriously. People may express a personal preference for Android or iPhone UIs but no longer can it be claimed that Symbian UI is uncompetitive. Sorry, but those days are passed. There wasn’t even anything hugely wrong with S60 5th in my opinion, just a few tweaks needed that have happened. Remember, just because someone doesn’t like it, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. And if you think I’m wrong, explain why Nokia smartphone sales grew 35% over the last year. Consumers are generally happy with Nokia UIs.

    • Andre
      July 9, 2010 at 8:48 pm

      What would you change, what features would you add? things you might wanna remove…

  2. John Wiegand-forson
    July 9, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    Ahhh great post Andre I was about to write something similar after reading this


    very interesting and frankly he is right, and should explain the Symbian doubters

    • Andre
      July 9, 2010 at 8:49 pm

      I originally had that link in the post but thought it deserved separate mention….it was worth a separate post 😐

  3. John Wiegand-forson
    July 9, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    I would make the whole UI more CONSISTENT just click on the link in my previous comment. Ewan Spencer form AllaboutSymbian has some very good points

  4. Stewie325
    July 9, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    One thing I can suggest is a very simple refinement to the S^3 Homescreen. It could probably be done in a few hours max, yet improve the look a lot. IMO..

    Here’s a photoshop:

    -minimise the top indicator area
    -maximise space for widgets
    -remove the “options” and “call” buttons on bottom, replace with visually pleasing icons

    • July 9, 2010 at 9:15 pm

      Quite a lot of the changes people are after in S^3 appear in S^4. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wade through S^3 first. Though as mentioned above and by Ewan’s post, S^3 isn’t bad.

      • Stewie325
        July 9, 2010 at 9:28 pm

        I agree, S^3 is just fine IMO. But the options button in particular is quite an eye sore. Some enthusiast symbian modders easily managed to replace it with custom icons (a patch I’m happily using now), so why can’t Nokia…

        • July 9, 2010 at 9:33 pm

          Oh totally agree.

          S^3 has so much space wastage still
          (soz, my reply was not meant to be directed to yours, but somehow got attached to it)

          Options/Sidebar/status bar, all could be minimised. I don’t know how on earth they ever got through S60 5th edition. It killed screen operating space by about 33%.

          • Andre
            July 9, 2010 at 9:56 pm

            The space waste on s60 5th edition is atrocious LOL.
            But in terms of the sidebar, status bar and options areas, all of them could be minimized quite easily while retaining function.
            I’m sure if they changed it to a small “menu-esque” icon with the words options underneath it’d solve the problem.
            Similar situation with the back/hide/close button.
            I’ve been wondering why they persisted with it for this long in spite of that.

        • Andre
          July 9, 2010 at 10:00 pm

          Stewie could you point me to that patch please! 🙂

  5. Keith
    July 9, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    I would like it to be more appealing visually. They should come up with something new instead of the menu. May be like an application bar. The rest should stay the same. I personally don’t mind the current symbian layout but I think changing it visually would appeal alot to the north americans, hence improving their sales on the western part of the world l.

    • Keith
      July 9, 2010 at 9:06 pm

      But, I think all these changes will be brought in Symbian^4 and I don’t even need to talk about MeeGo coz it looks LEGEN………..wait for it………..and don’t go lactose intolerant coz the second half of the word is ……DARY!!!! LEGENDARY!

  6. John Wiegand-forson
    July 9, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    I am surprised by the number of people saying the Android UI is nothing much compared to Symbian. I you read blogs exclusively you would think Android and iOS are the best thing since sliced bread but do not what dear MyNokiaBlog readers? every phone has its advantages and disadvantages is just up to you what you think is the most important feature to you, the Symbian UI does work although I hate the number of time you have to dig through to find simple menus if that was fixed I would be a happy bunny

  7. andre
    July 9, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    if you think you have a solid idea….submit it!
    Provided you get 30 ppl to jump on an idea and vote for it, one community manager to see the idea and support it and get the idea submitted early enough into the product cycle, you can have your ideas form part of your future phone operating system

  8. Caleb
    July 9, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Most of the things that annoy me have to do with the apps [not] available for Symbian. Two examples – Pandora and Google Voice.

    Pandora: I emailed the folks at Pandora once about why there was no Symbian app in the works. They basically told me that it wasn’t worth it to develop an app for Symbian phones because they don’t use a “major smartphone platform”.

    Quote – “We’re specifically looking for platforms that offer a clear path for development and certification, a strong likelihood of being able to re-use our code, and a robust platform lifespan.”

    The sad thing is, Symbian phones have all of the above, other than a robust platform lifespan, in the U.S. at least. I’m currently using Mobbler through Last.fm, but I’d like to have more choices.

    Google Voice: I also use Google Voice, but it’s a pain to initiate calls/texts without a custom app. Android and Blackberry phones have an app, and even Iphone users are able to use a better Google Voice interface through their browser. And yes, I’ve tried a GoogleVoiceForS60 – it keeps crashing.

    Once again, I think it’s a problem of developers in the U.S. seeing the lack of good Nokia phones out in the market, and just developing for the most “popular” devices.

    One more thing – Ovi Maps. The search for stores, restaurants, and anything in general is deplorable compared to Google Maps search. Don’t get me wrong, I love the navigation system. In my experience the navigation is accurate and reliable. The routes may not always be the best, but it gets you from point A to point B. There needs to be a way to include USER GENERATED points of interest in the search results. That way, if something is missing, Nokia users can help expand the database. Just like Google.

    • Caleb
      July 9, 2010 at 9:51 pm

      Just realized that everything I just posted has nothing at all to do with UI, ignore me if you’d like. 🙂

      • Andre
        July 9, 2010 at 9:54 pm

        And it’s fine.
        I’ve been thinking abou writing a post on the dev/app/OS situation with regards to nokia for a while now, might actually get around to it 😛

        • Caleb
          July 11, 2010 at 6:00 am

          Do it man!

    • Andre
      July 9, 2010 at 9:53 pm

      Is pandora licensed for use outside of the US?
      Concerning their reply though, that to me sounds like hogwash, honestly, they just couldn’t be bothered IMO.
      Google voice is a great app wish it worked better for you though. Never had need for it.
      Ovi maps DEFINITELY needs a larger database when it comes to stores etc, though for the most part it serves me ok, I’d love to have direct access to websites, menus etc from ovi maps. I think that was part of their deal with Yahoo if I remember correctly, they would get access to yahoo’s database and yahoo could use their map data or something to that effect.

      • Caleb
        July 11, 2010 at 5:56 am

        As far as I know, Pandora is only licensed for the U.S. Although, you’d think there would be something for the fair amount of Nokia users in the U.S.

        And yes, maybe Nokia’s deal with Yahoo will help lead to a larger database. That would be amazing!

    • John Wiegand-forson
      July 9, 2010 at 10:00 pm

      no no we wont ignore you Pandora is licensing issue and the lack of a true high end device that represents Nokia I guess most of the developers are confused the direction Nokia is going in terms of Application Development but QT should solve that Google voice only works properly on Android phones I think not sure but you hit the nail on the head with Ovi Maps and user generated content especially as Nokia are keen with all the Openness idea, they will probably get to that in the future. google has a head start in that sort of area due to their search business which Nokia don’t have

      • Caleb
        July 11, 2010 at 5:58 am

        Right. It’s gotta be hard to catch up to a company that already has so many resources in terms of an existing database.

    • bob
      July 12, 2010 at 5:05 pm

      symbian phones have sip capabilities google voice via gizmo or any other sipphone works like a charm

      • Caleb
        July 13, 2010 at 4:53 am

        Don’t mean to sound defensive, but have you been able to get Google Voice to work using the SIP functionality? I’ve tried in the past, and I was never able to get it to work.

  9. chfyfx
    July 9, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    One sentence for S^1/3: It was not built for touch. It is perfectly OK to leave the entire OS as is to non touch phones. Please Nokia.. Forget about converting S^1/3 to touch OS. Concentrate on Meego and S^4 and leave S^3 alone.

    I really hope that they did it right at the first time and use S^4/Meego for XM5800, so that they would not have N97 failure. A touch screen phone needs a new OS, period.

    Sorry that my comments might not be related to the topic here. ^^

    • John Wiegand-forson
      July 10, 2010 at 3:49 pm

      We would all like Nokia to abandon Symbian 3 and go straight to Symbian 4 but remember Nokia already skipped Symbian 2 to get here so I guess we will have to wait longer.

  10. yougo
    July 10, 2010 at 12:48 am

    Stewie325 :
    One thing I can suggest is a very simple refinement to the S^3 Homescreen. It could probably be done in a few hours max, yet improve the look a lot. IMO..
    Here’s a photoshop:
    -minimise the top indicator area
    -maximise space for widgets
    -remove the “options” and “call” buttons on bottom, replace with visually pleasing icons

    the problem is not the ui, it is the graphics design.

    agree with you

  11. GordonH
    July 10, 2010 at 1:34 am

    Setting up WiFi and GPRS/3g connections is not user friendly/consistent on Nokia devices and Nokia apps. Improvements have been made but I still feel it’s not upto par.

    • John Wiegand-forson
      July 10, 2010 at 3:51 pm

      I agree with you there having toggles as widgets or something similar would be great

  12. Yougo
    July 10, 2010 at 4:27 am

    The ui is fine but people want new fresh looks and facelift. It is just outdated

  13. jb8967
    July 10, 2010 at 7:51 am

    1) Make sure you release phones with suitable hardware to ensure smooth operation and transitions. The UI experience needs to be fluid.
    2) Update both fonts and ICONS to refresh the Nokia experience. The default theme should ensure optimal contrast in direct sunlight with best battery performance.
    3) Standardize the UI experience across the hi-end Nokia touch franchise better. The new/adopting customer needs to see the UI experience as intuitive. Stop differentiating using the UI…this is confusing. Kinetic scrolling….widgets….please…roll it quickly and out across the franchise. It’s like watching a group of individuals play basketball instead of a team.
    4) If Symbian^3 is not upgradeable to Symbian^4 for tech reasons…MAKE SURE Nokia explains to its N8, C7 and E7 potential buyers why the Symbian^3 platform will not only remain, but continue to be supported AND fortified with news apps via the Qt integrated platform strategy.
    5) Though Symbian may be relatively efficient, when it comes to hardware…spec to the high side. You are losing mindshare over simplified sound bites from simpletons. Stop giving these Neanderthals ammunition.
    6) Get new PR leadership…at the appropriate tactical levels…who can coordinate a coherent and professional message.
    7) Streamline the smartphone portfolio so that it can be better managed. Split the smartphone business from the feature phones and focus.
    8) De-silo. Too much internal competition…when the real competition is external.
    9) Control your prototypes and IP. As a current shareholder…I certainly expect a better effort in this area going forward.

    JMO. Good luck.

    • John Wiegand-forson
      July 10, 2010 at 3:55 pm

      I actually quite like the designs of the icons, I agree the font needs to be updated but what I like about the font is that when you see the font you instantly recognise its a Nokia. Standardising the UI across the whole phone should happen with Symbain 3 (I hope).

  14. July 10, 2010 at 10:16 am

    I wouldnt change the UI much, I would shout my balls out at Nokia for powering its devices with ice age hardware.

  15. Chris
    July 12, 2010 at 7:10 am

    – Make forming an internet connection easy and intuitive. Give the user options to connect similarly to Maemo5. It must be clear as to what kind of connections can be made and which connection mode is being used now and will be used in the future. For eg. ask coherent intuitive questions about saving connection settings.
    – No folders after folders with junk hidden behind them. Place all settings, softw.updates, connection management to a single place: “Settings” or “Control panel”.
    – Add a more appealing graphical look to the UI. Streamline it, make it coherent. Every button must work the same way always. No “double tap except when sitation is XYZ”. Always double tap or always single tap.
    – Changing screen orientation must be fast fast fast. No slowness or visible low fps on transitions. Also no graphical bugs (such as half of a window showing as an artifact)
    – If automatic settings managers are implemented, they must work and they must also have a choice to do everything manually. Example: automatic e-mail wizards. ATM there’s 2 to 3 places where to set up your e-mail and so it becomes impossible to tweak account settings afterwards. E-mail must be coherent with the rest of the UI.
    – Make parts of the UI really stand out, for eg. the media player. Give it a cool look, do the same for eg for the photos app. When core commonuser-understandable features like this look good, it’s easy to gain their appreciation for the device. In other words, add “gimmicks” here and there, all the while keeping the app itself functional, intuitive and powerful.
    – Everything must simply work.

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