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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Sun Microsystems Inc is set to launch a major upgrade to the phone variant of its Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME) specification featuring a standardized application delivery method and server-side application invocation alongside improved security, multimedia and networking features.

The specification, known as MIDP (mobile information device profile) 2.0, is scheduled for release in late summer with the first devices using the technology expected to hit the shelves by the end of the year.

The over-the-air (OTA) provisioning and "midlet push" feature allowing servers to remotely invoke applications on a device look especially significant. The OTA feature should allow greater interoperability between devices and the so-called J2ME application "vending machines" developed by vendors such as 4thpass Inc and Pixo Inc. This should, in turn, help the roll-out and uptake of J2ME devices and applications.

While few details of the midlet push feature are currently available, the ability to invoke device side applications from a server will no doubt prove useful as web services start to proliferate. For now, however, Sun - through the Java Community Process (JCP) - has not added support for XML-based web services protocols, said Andy Bush, new technologies manager for Sun UK.

Among the other enhancements in MIDP 2.0 are a number of features intended to improve the attractiveness of J2ME as both a business and consumer technology. Business-oriented features include support for secure sockets layer (SSL) and signing of applications.

Meanwhile, on the consumer side, MIDP now supports advanced phone features such as 3D graphics, sprites and polyphonic sound, reinforcing the technology's credentials as an emerging gaming platform. In terms of networking, MIDP will no support TCP/IP and UDP in addition to the HTTP transport protocol.

Bush expects development tools vendors such as Metrowerks Inc and Sun itself to launch updated toolkits for the spec, which is fully backwards compatible with MIDP 1.0, almost immediately the spec is released, probably in late summer. MIDP 2.0-enabled devices are expected by the end of the year.

© ComputerWire

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