Thoughts on S60

reflections on the most popular mobile operating system worldwide

Archive for October 2008

Cumulative Review: Nokia N96

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It’s been 5 days since I received the Nokia N96 from WOM World and I’ve certainly put it to the test. I’ve tried my absolute hardest to use it as rigorously as I would any of my other S60 devices and not make any excuses for it. So, without further ado, grab yourself some coffee, sit back, and enjoy. If you have any questions about anything I haven’t covered, please drop me a message or leave a comment. Click on any of the pictures to be taken to my Ovi channel dedicated to Face the Task and the N96 where you’ll find a ton more pictures in all of their original resolutions.

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Written by Jonathan

October 31, 2008 at 4:30 pm

Diary of an Urban Ninja-Challenge 1

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My girlfriend and I had been planning to use my day off to vote early as to avoid the ridiculously long lines, but it seems that was going to be inevitable. That doesn’t mean I couldn’t have fun and tie my first challenge into it! And so began the first journey of the Urban Ninja…

We began our journey when Rachel came home from work. I was busy playing Guitar Hero: World Tour and trying to figure out how the hell to use the new touch-sensitive buttons conveniently.

Click ahead to see the entire journey… Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Jonathan

October 30, 2008 at 4:39 am

And so begins the challenge-Face the Task

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I had to spend all day at work yesterday knowing that a huge package with a ninja outfit and a N96 would be delivered to my door. I spent so much time fiddling last night that I didn’t get a chance to start my first challenge.

My first task is to upload a geo-tagged photo with Nokia viNe while in the provided (though a bit snug) ninja costume. I took a few photos last night, but I have a much better idea for what I’m going to do today, so stay tuned.

I’m competing against 7 other challengers to win 5 trials of the N96 for 5 of my readers. Seeing as how I have very little traffic on a day-to-day basis, I think I’m going to expand the competition into HoFo as well. I’d like for readers and members of HoFo to send me ideas (email, PM, comment, SMS, whatever) for pictures to take with the N96 in my ninja costume. They don’t have to be related to the challenges, necessarily, but I’ll be selecting the best ideas out of all that I receive and those who submitted those ideas will be the ones who get to trial the N96 (if I win, of course).

Here’s a list of my challengers and what they’re doing for the competition (compiled by Micky! on HoFo)

Micky Aldridge (N95Users) http://mickyfin.vox.com/

Norman John (Symbian World) http://symbianworld.org/1009-face-t…allange-begins/

NokiaAddict http://nokiaaddict.blogspot.com/200…-challenge.html

Erazer007 (Cellular) http://erazer007.wordpress.com/2008…p-mobile-phone/

Mark Guim (Nokia blog) http://thenokiablog.com/2008/10/22/…s-to-5-readers/

Rita (Dotsisx – Symbian guru)http://www.symbian-guru.com/welcome…challenges.html

XJ911 (HOFO) http://www.howardforums.com

As for the device itself, I’m coming away a bit unimpressed. Here’s a quick list.

Pro’s

  • The size and overall look and feel of the device is incredible, to me at least. The slider is also decent.
  • FP2 is packed with more features than I had originally thought (automatic access points, more helpful menu options, download unrecognized files, POWER SAVING MODE!, etc.,)
  • USB 2.0 speeds makes transfers with the USB cable actually usable and reliable.
  • OTA firmware updates are much easier and less stressful than using Nokia Software Updater, which would not work on my computer.

Con’s

  • The phone is SLOW and I mean SLOW. Menus are very slow in navigation and my texting speed has taken a hit because buttons aren’t rendering.
  • Nokia Software Updater does not like Vista x64. Opening NSU with the phone plugged in via PC Suite mode caused a whole bunch of error messages to come up, the firmware failed to update, and eventually it stopped seeing my phone altogether. Didn’t brick the phone, luckily.
  • Unable to install unsigned applications of kind.
  • Dual-LED doesn’t seem to make as much of a difference as I heard it would, especially with the N82 sitting right next to it.

Rest assured, I’ll be commenting on the battery the more I use it. From my brief experience though, it isn’t too bad.

Clicking the picture above will take you to my Face the Task channel on Ovi that I’ll be updating with all of my pictures from this challenge and any pictures I take in regards to the N96 in general. Thanks to everyone who sends me ideas and good luck!

Written by Jonathan

October 28, 2008 at 5:52 pm

Why buy an unlocked device in 2009?

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I’ve been chewing this question over in my head for a couple days now and a couple of recent articles really made things much more clear to me. I apologize in advance for the long read, but I think it will be worth your time if you care to give it.

How it was.

There was a time not too many years ago when owning an unlocked S60 device really meant something. They were usually much more expensive, freed users of any of the carrier restrictions placed on such devices due to branded firmware, and had a larger feature set than what was offered by carriers as well. I remember when I bought my 6630 with a 1.3mp camera when everyone else around me was first getting introduced to cameraphones altogether. When 1.3 became the standard, I was upgrading the 2mp camera on my N70 to the 3.2mp camera on the N80 and taking advantage of wifi on a phone, a thought that was unheard of by any carrier at the time. When the world finally got around to using 2mp as the standard and started rolling out provider-based GPS solutions, I was dropping a silly amount of money on my first N95 with a real GPS chipset and a whopping 5mp sensor, along with all of the other features I had grown used to over the years.

Despite the cost for these devices, there was an obvious advantage to them that was worth a conversation with someone who was looking for something that was more than what AT&T or Verizon could offer them. Since I started using S60, I’ve been so enthusiastic about it that I influenced more than a dozen friends, family members, and strangers to buy an unlocked Nokia rather than settle for the mediocre device offerings from carriers that came locked and ready to charge you for every bit of media you consume.

I spent a lot of money over the years to stay at the bleeding edge of this technology, but it was worth it.

Fast forward to today. Where are we?

-The iPhone undoubtedly has completely changed the market and how people perceive mobile devices. It appeals to people who struggled with Windows Mobile for its incredible ease of use, fashionistas who want a gorgeous piece of equipment in their pocket, mid-to-heavy power users who want an impressive device in their pocket, and it has become the new benchmark for a tier of device above your everyday cell phone without the complications of your typical smartphone offerings (usually Windows Mobile, Blackberry, and a bit of Palm still floating around).

-The HTC Touch Pro, a worthy iPhone competitor, will be offered by Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon for the 2008 holiday season.

-Verizon is launching the Blackberry Storm, yet another iPhone competitor, within the next couple weeks (allegedly by Black Friday).

-AT&T has several more devices planned for the holiday launch, including the Blackberry Bold, Samsung Eternity, Incite, Epix, and a few other devices geared towards enhanced messaging.

-In addition to the Touch Pro and the Blackberry Storm, Verizon is also launching the Samsung Omnia with 5mp camera (with many, many features), GPS, and everything else you’d want from a high end Windows Mobile device. It is also due out for this holiday season.

-T-Mobile just launched their first real iPhone contender in both hardware and software, the HTC G1 running Andoid.

Bare in mind, all of these carrier device offerings are new. They are an addition to all of the other devices that have already been rapidly catching up to what’s supposed to be the next generation of high end devices. Verizon had been all over the touch screen bandwagon for a while now with the likes of the HTC Touch, LG Voyager, Dare, Samsung Glyde, and the newly released Motorola Krave.

I’ve gotten to the point where switching to a different device and platform wouldn’t be much of a sacrifice at all if it were easy enough to learn, so what’s to stop anyone else from feeling the exact same? I’ve been with S60 for so long that it feels like second nature, but in a world with iPhones and iPhone-wannabes that are damn near immediately intuitive as soon as you pick it up and are starting to have the exact same feature sets as the once-coveted unlocked, imported smartphone, what does Nokia and/or S60 have that people are really going to want? And what’s going to make it worth the extra money for buying it without a contract?

Some would argue that it’s the operating system, the third party software, and the ease of use makes still makes it worthwhile. I would agree, but your average consumer wouldn’t. Part of the brilliance of S60 was a community of users with active development of the platform adding functionality on an almost daily basis. While that’s still very strong, there’s a much stronger presence available elsewhere now. Going back to the iPhone, Apple (and the community responsible for jailbreaking) took that same idea and unified all of the apps into a single source for convenient installation right on the device iteself, much like you’d see from a Linux distro. Speaking of which, Android has now done the exact same thing, and Blackberry is about to join the club as well. Nokia’s version is a patheric application called “Download!”, available on devices years before the iPhone, but it was hardly used then either. Download! brought a very small fraction of the most popular S60 applications for users to install right on their device with a clunky interface that doesn’t even compare to what’s available now.

The point? In both hardware and software, there are very few unlocked devices (current and available soon) that offer more than what’s already available from a carrier.

Why would somebody buy an N85 for $400+ dollars when a Samsung Omnia can be had for $100 less with a contract? It’s not worth it anymore.

I’m very content with my decision to buy the 5800 XpressMusic when the US version is available. I’m at a point in my life where having the absolute latest and greatest phone with all of the high end features is much less important to me than having a device I enjoy using that still matches what I need and what I need it to do on a daily basis. The difference now is that I also have no choice. Nokia doesn’t have a flagship that blows everything else out of the water like they used to year after year.

Nokia has sat at the top of their hill for a very, very long time, gradually milking out new phones with a minor upgrade here, a US version there, with the capability to be the dominant presence in all of its markets. With all of the recent changes, it’s not difficult to see how easily other manufacturers have been able to slowly eat away at their numbers.

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What does the future hold?

Nokia has three options if they ever intend to get back into the US market.

1) Get agreements with carriers.

2) Sell unlocked phones at competitive prices.

3) Start making phones worth the extra money and market the hell out of them.

Nokia is never going to have to worry about their doors closing. The lion’s share of their market is still heavily dominated by their lower-end handsets and most of these thoughts are intended for the US audience only. If Nokia intends to stay as successful as they have been for the past several years, then it’s time they start worrying. They have several new services that, if done properly, could retake control of the entire market; they just need to do it right.

I used to think about a day when things would change in the US. I thought that everyone would eventually catch on to the idea of unlocked phones, start to phase out the carrier as their source for new devices, and we’d gradually see an uprising of interest in mobile technology beyond just calling and sending SMS. Well, now we have, except the company that has done it was the newcomer to the market, and they did it with an even stronger relationship to mobile providers than ever before. Everyone asks “Who are you with?” instead of “Who makes that phone?” more than ever and we’re even further away from that changing anytime soon.

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As a fan of technology in general, I’m very excited to see how much everything is about to change even after they already have so much. Though I am still very happy with Nokia’s offerings, I wouldn’t have any reservations about purchasing a device that offered more for less, and I’m sure the majority of everyone else in the US feels the same way. 2009 holds a lot of new devices from a lot of manufacturers. The last thing Nokia needs to be doing is releasing rehashes of their previous years devices with new reflective black casings.

After all, that banner up there is only a jpeg and changing the URL for my blog would be very inexpensive. 😉

A Brief Moment with the T-Mobile G1

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I popped into a T-Mobile store the other day to see what all the fuss was about with the launch of HTC’s first handset running Android. I didn’t spend all too much time with the device but I did get a much better feel for how Android handles different tasks.

I really liked the interface, but Android still has a long way to go. As I’ve mentioned to others before, there are certain fundamental features missing from the G1 that really sold me on not buying the device and didn’t make me want to explore every menu thoroughly like I did with the iPhone when it launched.

Here are my turn-off’s:

  • Currently no on-screen keyboard (coming Q1 2009)/all input must be done on flip-out keyboard
  • No 3.5mm headphone port/miniUSB port used instead
  • Shares a lot of the same missing standard features as the iPhone (full Bluetooth profiles, video recording, etc.,) as well as some of its own
  • The device requires a memory card for storing media, but curiously won’t let you install applications to it

I did particularly like the trackball for navigation in addition to the touch screen (albeit, a bit redundant) and overall it felt much faster and smoother than the iPhone (probably due to the processor clocked a bit faster). Given that I didn’t get a chance to use the device too extensively, I don’t recommend anyone else to write it off just yet, but for my usage and the cons it has at face value, I already have.The G1 definitely convinced me that Android is going to be an excellent contender in this new generation of touch-screen craze, but for me, I think it’s a safer bet to wait for a more mature handset to run it when more apps and features become available.

One more picture after the break.

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Written by Jonathan

October 26, 2008 at 12:45 am

Another 5th Edition Feature: Downloading Unrecognized Files

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Anyone who used the 3rd Edition web browser to its full extent is probably fully aware of its current inability to download files that are not natively recognized by your phone. Anything that’s not able to be opened in any of the default applications will come up with a “Not supported” error message after you click the download button. With 5th Edition, this is no longer a problem.

For the sake of my poor computer, I’ve only uploaded a couple screenshots. The emulator has proven to be very problematic with my new computer, particularly when running the Web browser.

The first is the new way the browser responds to the file when an attempt to download is made. I simply typed in a direct URL to the file I was trying to download (a link to P@sco’s Fur Elise theme) and let it load.

Normally, the 3rd Edition browser would give the same “Not supported” message, but you can see that even though the browser doesn’t recognize this file (as indicated by the Type: description in the popup window), it still gives you the option to download anyway.

When you press OK, the file begins to download with no issues whatsoever. and since this is only an emulation, it saved it to a default location.

The puzzle-piece icon also indicates that it is not recognized, but that doesn’t matter at this point. The file is available to modify with whichever 3rd party application supports it.

RAR’s, torrents, system files, or anything else you’ve ever needed to download on the fly will now be available directly on your handset. I can not WAIT for this pocketable mini-computer.

Written by Jonathan

October 14, 2008 at 7:50 pm

Copy and Paste on the 5800 with 5th Edition *UPDATE*!

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*UPDATE*!

Thanks to Eldar’s massive review of the 5800, I’ve learned that the 5800 and 5th Edition devices also support copy and paste in non-editable fields! Click the break after the first walkthrough to see how it works!

Like Ricky over at Symbian-Guru.com, I took it upon myself to download and install the SDK and emulator for the S60 5th Edition and have been playing with it very extensively. Following up with a video he recently posted about the various input methods for text fields, it seems a lot of people are curious as to how the copy and paste functions work on S60 without a physical pencil key. Although a bit different that what you may be used to, it’s still there and works very well with the touch interface.

First let me show you some sample text in an SMS window…

From here, you can drag your finger across the text to highlight it…

And last, if you press the options button (three horizontal lines) you will be presented with an all-too familiar menu…

Unfortunately, this same method doesn’t work for text found in websites, only for text that is editable, but hopefully we’ll see this ability availabe with updates to the firmware and browser in the future. Click the break to see how to copy and paste within non-editable fields (with the exception of the browser, of course).

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Written by Jonathan

October 9, 2008 at 9:18 pm