Java spec promises better mobile experience

A new Java specification that will improve mobile phone applications should be ready by year's end.

Work is being wrapped up on the first draft of a set of new Java technologies that could bring big benefits to mobile phone applications for both work and entertainment.

The technologies, embodied in a new Java specification, include management capabilities that should allow mobile operators to send software updates to phones after they have been distributed, monitor hardware resources and even troubleshoot problems remotely, said Jon Bostrom, director of Java technology at Nokia and one of the specification's lead developers.

If a user wants to download a new game and lacks the right codec (coder/decoder), for example, the technology should allow a developer to package the codec and the game together and deliver them at the simultaneously, even installing them while the phone is in use.

The specification also includes runtime technologies that should make it easier for developers to write applications that need to talk to servers or other phones. They might include games that include instant messaging features, or business programs that pull customer information from a back-end systems.

Those applications should be easier to build because the specification provides many of the runtime "services," such as security, message queuing and connectivity, that developers would otherwise have to write for their application. That allows them to focus on their user interfaces and business logic and not worry about the infrastructure, or middleware, components.

"What we're really doing is bringing the middleware environment that has been so successful on servers into mobile clients," Bostrom said.

Nokia and Motorola led the development of the specification, called JSR 232 for Mobile Operational Management. It is also backed by other handset makers, operators and software vendors including Vodafone Group, NTT DoCoMo, IBM and SAP.

SAP is interested because it wants to make it easier for its customers to write client applications that extend its ERP (enterprise resource planning) software to mobile devices, Bostrom said. Phone makers and operators, meanwhile, hope to entice customers with better products and services.

The spec itself is a document hundreds of pages long that tells phone makers and developers how to implement the technologies. It will become part of the J2ME (Java 2 Micro Edition) specification for phones and other embedded devices.

Pertti Korhonen, Nokia's chief technology officer, is expected to show off JSR 232 at next week's JavaOne show in San Francisco. He'll announce when developers can get their hands on a software development kit and show them what it will look like, Bostrom said.

The first draft specification should be completed in about a month, and the final specification is targeted for the end of the year. It may take six to nine months after that for a spec to appear in finished products.

Not everything has gone smoothly. JSR 232 is already a year behind schedule, largely because of the time it took to get the industry players involved to see its benefits. "They're used to the idea that you just burn the software into the phone and ship it. We've had a tremendous education process to go through," Bostrom said.

The group has also had to coordinate each step of its work with a related standards body, the Open Systems Gateway Initiative.

JSR 232 could be a big benefit to both operators and enterprises, but its success depends partly on how much support it can muster from developers, said Mark Blowers, a senior research analyst with Butler Group, in Hull, England.

"It's still early days," he said. "They're at the end of the runway and now they have to see whether it takes off."

Some phone users will be hoping it does. Daren Sidall, a principal analyst with Gartner in the U.K., tried out a service from recently that uses a Java program to deliver celebrity news and pictures to a mobile phone.

The first day's content looked fine, but after that he was unable to download updated content. He found out eventually that the GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) settings on his phone needed changing. Asking his operator seemed like too much hassle so he cancelled the service.

"It's a classic case of a decent service falling at the first hurdle," he said.

It's also the type of problem that JSR 232 should help to fix.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

James Niccolai

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?