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New Library Targets Mobile Phone Development

As the mobile device market has become hotter and hotter, making quick changes to a device's user interface design has become a key challenge for manufacturers racing against time-to-market issues.

A European software company, Digital Airways, is offering a new product called the Kaleido Phone Library to help manufacturers quickly develop user interfaces for mobile phones, PDAs, and other devices. The company made the announcement at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes, France in February.

Digital Airways provides software solutions specifically to help with the development of communication products such as mobile handsets and personal digital assistants. The company already markets Kaleido, a suite of tools for building mobile device interfaces using both graphical techniques and scripting, and Wapaka, a Java-based micro-browser.

The Kaleido Phone Library, an extension of Kaleido, is a generic foundation layer for mobile devices that helps mobile device manufacturers design and customize sophisticated, feature-rich interfaces more quickly. The library is available in C and Java for a number of hardware types and operating systems, including legacy platforms.

According to Marek Pawlowski, editorial director at mobile research firm PMN, Kaleido itself is one of a new breed of interface solutions that focus primarily on graphical design. Kaleido simplifies the process of modifying interfaces, he says, allowing marketing teams and designers to play a more active role. “With Kaleido,” Pawlowski says, “manufacturers are actually modifying the interface systems directly, rather than placing a skin on top of an existing structure.”

Kaleido will attract manufacturers, Pawlowski predicts, because it requires relatively few resources to run on a device: the MMI engine can be implemented in either C or Java. That makes it suitable for a broad range of handsets, from entry level to mid-range. Also, Kaleido separates the interface engine from the interface description, meaning that interfaces can be dynamically updated at any point in the product cycle, even over the air once consumers are actually using the product. Those are useful features, he says, although in the hotly competitive mobile device market, they are not necessarily unique.

About the Author

Linda Briggs is a freelance writer based in San Diego, Calif. She can be reached at lbriggs@lindabriggs.com.

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