Last month, the hugely popular mobile messaging service WhatsApp apparently started notifying users of its Symbian app that the software would stop working on their phones at the end of this year. However, many people could simply be amazed that WhatsApp has supported Symbian for this long.
Symbian: a relic from mobile history
If the name “Symbian” doesn’t ring a bell to you: your granddad had it on his phone. Okay, we’re exaggerating – it isn’t quite that old. However, it would still be fair to call it a fallen giant among mobile operating systems. The world’s most popular smartphone platform by sales until as recently as 2010, it lost that premier position to Android and soon fell far behind Apple’s iOS as well.
In a blog post in April, WhatsApp first broke the news that it would be dropping support for Symbian phones, explaining: “While these mobile devices have been an important part of our story, they don’t offer the kind of capabilities we need to expand our app’s features in the future.” But wasn’t Symbian already thoroughly dead and buried? Not quite…
New apps still trickle in for Symbian
The functionality of Symbian has been gradually wound down during the last few years. On January 1, 2014, Nokia froze its Symbian app store, which meant that developers could no longer, through this store, update existing Symbian apps or release new ones. However, this doesn’t strictly mean that remaining Symbian users are now unable to download or update apps on their phones at all. The third party store AppList still offers apps for Symbian versions including Symbian 3, Anna and Belle.
Just this year, AppList was the outlet for the releases of Tiny Planets, a popular Windows Phone app ported to Symbian and allowing users to make “tiny planets” out of their photos, and the streamlined text editor FileNotes, which can even be used with the physical QWERTY keyboards of the Nokia E6 and E7. However, with the iOS App Store and Google Play obviously updated much more regularly, the modern community of Symbian users is a small, if clearly dedicated, one.
Is the end for Symbian finally nigh?
Nokia’s last Symbian phone, the 808 PureView, was released in mid-2012. That’s recent enough for us to suggest that some people still wielding this handset could remain happy with it for now. However, it seems apt to wrap up this article with All About Symbian editor and 808 PureView owner Steve Litchfield’s comment, made in December, that, “bit by bit, it’s getting harder and harder to stay on Symbian without an excessive amount of work.”