Nokia starts shipping Symbian Anna

But some users may have to wait for a couple of weeks

Nokia's promised Symbian Anna software update is ready and downloads will be available Thursday, the company said in a blog post.

The update to Symbian 3 includes an improved user interface with new icons, a portrait QWERTY keyboard, a faster browser and better maps. Enterprise users are getting improved data encryption.

The Symbian Anna software update also activates the NFC (Near Field Communications) hardware in the Nokia C7, allowing users to tap their C7s together to share contacts, photos, videos and play games. Users can also pair the phone with NFC-enabled accessories from Nokia and others by tapping them together, Nokia writes. It can't be used for payments, a Nokia spokeswoman said via e-mail.

In addition to the C7, Anna is also available for phones like the N8, C6-01 and E7. Users in countries such as China, Finland, Germany, India, Russia, Sweden and the U.K. will receive the update this week. Most other countries will get it during the next three weeks, according to Nokia.

The Anna upgrade can be downloaded using a PC and the latest version of Ovi Suite, or directly over-the-air to the phone, according to Nokia. For those who choose the latter, Nokia recommends the use of "a strong and reliable" Wi-Fi connection.

Nokia has chosen to use Windows Phone as its primary smartphone OS. But the company is dependent on the sales of Symbian-based smartphones until it starts to ship large volumes of Windows Phones, which won't happen until next year. In June, Nokia said it would release 10 Symbian-based smartphones in the coming year. More software updates also seem to be on the way, including the rumored Symbian Belle.

But selling Symbian-based phones in today's market is a big challenge. Nokia made a net loss during the second quarter following a dramatic decline in smartphone sales, it reported in July.

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