Nokia is hoping to boost the number of applications available for the Asha 501 to make it more competitive with low-cost Android smartphones with the release Thursday of the first version of a software development kit (SDK) for the phone.
The Finnish phone maker has increasingly focused on software and apps to make the Asha family more attractive, including recently adding a tailored version of its own Here Maps for the 501, as well as a LinkedIn app that can be used by a number of Asha models.
But like every handset vendor, Nokia has to attract the legions of smaller developers that create most of the apps on the market. The Asha SDK 1.0 is a suite of tools to make the development, testing, packaging and deployment of Java apps on the Asha OS easier, according to Nokia. It includes features such as sensor and multi-touch simulation as well as APIs for Here Maps and notifications.
To help developers test their apps, the Asha 501 is now available in Nokia's Remote Device Access service, which lets developers access real phones online over an Internet connection for up to eight hours a day. The service allows developers to make sure applications work as expected.
To help developers get started, the company is organizing 18 webinars over the next six weeks covering topics such as user interface design, camera and imaging, and localization.
The Asha product family has become important for Nokia because much of the growth in the market is expected to come from low-end smartphones, and its Windows Phone-based devices are still too expensive to appeal to a broad swathe of consumers. But just like the Lumia family, the Asha phones are under heavy pressure from low-cost Android-based products, and as a result sales have suffered.
Nokia sold 4.3 million Asha full-touch smartphones during the second quarter, compared to 5 million during first three months of the year and 9.3 million during the fourth quarter of 2012. However, there were signs of recovery in the latter part of the second quarter with sales boosted by the launch of the Asha 501, CEO Stephen Elop said when Nokia announced its latest quarterly results.
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