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June 4, 2008

Add, divide and multiply

ESPOO, Finland – Would you be surprised to know the iPhone is a talking point within Nokia? Of course you wouldn’t. Now would you be surprised to hear the S60 calculator hasn’t been touched (bar minor bug fixes) in almost eight years? But what have the two got in common?

Talking about the new software update for iPhone, a few of the dev teams on S60 and S40 noted how the iPhone calculator had been redesigned with some new functionality. This got the team thinking, and asking questions, such as when was the last time the S60 calculator had been given a once-over (not since it was written eight years ago).

Separately, the team noted how the S40 calculator is not only better, but newer. So, rather than write a new summer-upper from scratch, they decided to port the S40 one to S60. It took two days and is now sitting
in Alpha labs before hopefully being unleashed to the masses shortly.

So there’s two things at play here. Openly discussing other products helps people think about what they can take from it. Not just in features or functionality, but in ethos – this wasn’t about ripping off the iPhone calculator or functionality, simply about not focusing only on the high-profile things, but the small AND important things.

Secondly, two teams talking together about the same thing enabled them to find a solution that works for the user and is easier to implement than starting from scratch. The biggest bonus being speed, which means we get to see the fruits of their labour sooner, not later. Nice.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what Alpha Labs is, then think of it as the internal version of Beta Labs. Basically it’s where apps go for initial testing and development (so Nokia employees can play and feedback) before graduating to Beta Labs.

So, what else would you like to see given a makeover?