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Nokia pulls memory-gobbling Java overhaul

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Nokia has completely rewritten its Java implementation for S60 devices, linking the new Java environment with Ovi as well as improving performance at an apparent cost of greater memory consumption.

The new Java implementation is currently a beta release, though no problems have been reported except the additional memory consumption, which could be a problem with only the 5800 and N97 being supported right now; the two devices are already prone to memory shortages.

The new version does launch Java applications faster, which is a welcome development; and apparently runs them faster too, though execution speed of Java apps hasn't particularly been a problem on S60 devices. Indeed, the Java integration of S60 is so good that there's a reasonable argument against doing any native Symbian development at all - unless one needs access to hardware beyond what's available though Java APIs.

Java applications on S60 are largely indistinguishable from native apps, something which is far from true on competing platforms. But this release seems to have more to do with Nokia's online-everything service Ovi than any desire to further improve the Java experience.

The new Java Runtime is integrated with Ovi, offering one-click application installation and automatic updates when Nokia decides to further improve the platform, so Java Runtime versions will no longer be in step with S60 versions - a problem in the short time if discrepancies emerge, but good in the long term as automatic updates should see one version being used by everyone.

The new runtime is available from Nokia Beta Labs, with the normal caveats about running beta software. ®

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