Anna is the codename for the major update to Symbian 3 devices (Symbian 3 v0.22.014) released by Nokia on August 18 2011. It is available to download to your Symbian 3 device (N8, C7, C6-01 and E7) via Nokia OVI Suite software version 3.1.1 or higher.
With Anna Nokia has really listened to the complaints users were having with its touch screen phones and no compromises made it has fixed all of those issues. This comes as a bit surprise to fans like me who had accepted that Nokia had abandoned all things Symbian in pursuit of a Windows Mobile based future. Symbian is a fantastic fast multitasking OS for phones but Nokia just could not get it up to scratch to work with buttonless touch screen phones in its last attempt. Nokias software department it appears did not give up all hope and have shown fans they really do care about Symbian.
The first and biggest gripe that Anna fixes is it makes it easier to type using the on-screen keyboard in both portrait and landscape modes. The Symbian 3 native keyboard was so bad that Nokia released third party Swype keyboard software free for all its Symbian 3 phones which allowed for a more intuitive keyboard interface. Frankly I still found Swype to be clunky. Anna fixes that with a keyboard that is more forgiving to fat fingers and with excellent predictive text capabilities. Full QWERTY keyboard is available in both landscape and portrait orientations. Swype keyboards are still available for those who prefer it.
The second big upgrade is to the inbuilt browser. A lot of Symbian 3 users quickly moved away from the slow clunky browser that came with the Symbian 3 on the N8 to Opera Mobile. But I found Opera Mobile while fast was unstable and would crash while displaying complex websites. It also had no support for Adobe Flash and YouTube. But Anna comes with a brand new browser that is as stable as its previous incarnation yet amazingly quick. It also automatically hides or overlays browser controls on the screen allowing all of the screen space to be used by the web page on display.
The third major upgrade is to the Mail application. The display of messages is now grouped and it is quick and easy to change message grouping to display messages grouped by sender or date or priority or subject. Grouping by subject enables a threaded view with related messages appearing under the same group. Mailbox settings are easier to access and annoying prompts have been removed. The email composer offers rapid address lookup if you start typing in the To or Cc fields it shows a list of contact emails starting with the letter typed.
Anna also integrates much better with Nokias OVI services and the user interface is generally more slick and zippier. Several tiny updates and features make it a much more user friendly and usable system for touch screen phones like the N8. The calendar user interface has been enhanced with a split month view showing the entire month in the top half of the screen and the selected days events in the lower half of the display. Integration with facebook and twitter is much better with contacts showing status updates from facebook. The Checkin application now allows the user to create and name custom places. OVI maps allows map updates to be downloaded over WiFi. Switching between home-screens is more natural with the screen being dragged under and along with finger motion. The camera interface is easier to use and very responsive with improved red-eye reduction. OVI chat is better integrated into the phone and supports Yahoo! Messenger, Google Talk and MSN Messenger. Finally, JoikuSpot Lite WiFi tethering software comes pre-installed and so does SBP QuickOffice and Microsoft Communicator Mobile.
What is interesting is that Anna is just the first in a series of upgrades planned for Symbian 3. Other planned updates are available as experimental Beta Labs software at present. The next upgrade to Anna is targeted specifically at better utilizing the N8 camera and will feature 30fps 720p video recording1 with continuous focus and exposure controls besides other enhancements and will make the N8 a serious video phone.
Browsing Nokia Beta labs I found that Nokia is also developing support for Mac OSX with a phone software updater for the Mac in the pipeline. The N8 already has an iSync plugin and a dedicated multimedia transfer app for the Mac that can transfer your iTunes library to the N8.
It appears that contrary to expectations Nokia is in no mood to send its software department packing. Anna and a trip through Nokia Beta Labs clearly shows Nokia is actively researching applications that will engage users and give Nokia an edge over its competitors. Nokia is intently listening to its user and fan base and implementing their ideas into its products and in the long run I think this strategy will lead to success.
Updating to Anna
On my N8 I found the updates went smoothly using Nokias OVI Suite software on Windows. I strongly recommend not skipping the backup step during update. After the update all my applications and settings were intact and I could use my phone straight away. Nokia has also published a guide on upgrading.
To check if you are currently running Anna, dial *#0000# and check that the software version reported by your phone is 022.014
- 1. The phone software presently allows 25fps 720p video recording.