The 2009 Mobile World Congress is going on now in Barcelona, Spain, and has already brought a number of large announcements from Apple’s iPhone competitors, including the announcement of several App Store clones, touch-based interfaces, and more. We note the key announcements for readers who may be interested in keeping up on news that may impact future iPhone development.
Microsoft has announced Windows Mobile 6.5, a revamp of its existing smartphone and PDA platform. The new version includes a number of changes to make the OS more touch-friendly, including a new honeycomb-styled main menu, touchable elements in Internet Explorer, and finger-friendly home and contacts screens. The software will begin appearing on devices by year’s end. Alongside the software, Microsoft also announced Windows Marketplace and My Phone for Windows Mobile, clones of Apple’s App Store and MobileMe services, respectively. Both will be available with Windows Mobile 6.5.
Like Microsoft, Nokia has announced an App Store competitor, limited to its Symbian OS devices, and called Ovi. The store will be pre-integrated on the upcoming N97 and available to many users of existing S40 and S60 phones, offering both applications and games, a feature that learns the users’ tastes to make recommendations, location-based recommendations, and more. The company has launched a developer site as well, which touts a 70% revenue share—the same as Apple offers developers with paid apps in the App Store.
HTC, makers of touchscreen Windows Mobile phones and Google’s hardware partner on the “G” branded Android devices, has announced two new touch-based phones, both with 480×800-pixel screens. The Touch Pro2 features a slide-out 5-row QWERTY keyboard, a dual microphone/speaker for improved conference and speakerphone capabilities, an adjustable tilt screen for enhanced viewing, and more. The Touch Diamond2 offers a 5-megapixel camera, microSD expansion, and more. While the 480×800-pixel display is 3.6 inches on the Pro2, it’s a smaller 3.2 inches on the Diamond2; both include an Enhanced TouchFLO 3D interface to make the underlying Windows Mobile software more touch-friendly.
Finally, Samsung has also introduced a new touchscreen phone, the Omnia HD. Apart from its 3.7-inch, 360×480 pixel Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode (AMOLED) screen, the phone also features either 8 or 16GB of internal storage, a MicroSDHC expansion slot, HSUPA, GPS, Bluetooth, and an 8 Megapixel camera that allows users to shoot 24fps 720p high-definition video.