Archive for the ‘MeeGo’ Category

Nokia N9 paid apps: GT Racing

November 7, 2012

As a car enthusiast I felt compelled, after playing the pre-installed Need For Speed Shift, to buy the other big racing title available for the N9 at the Ovi Store: GT Racing Motor Academy HD

Above you can watch a short video review about the game.

It cost me €3 and I must confess that until now, this is the only app I’m sort of having a weird case of “buyers remorse”. The graphics are good enough, there’s plenty of options, cars and game modes but the handling is, at least in comparison with the EA game, not very good and I’m not really enjoying it as I was expecting, so, if you’re not sure about if you should buy it or not, maybe you should save the money or wait until it’s cheaper before buying.

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Nokia Country Variants

November 6, 2012

The PR1.3 firmware update for MeeGo Harmattan was originally launched this year in July 2nd.

Nokia published the following changelog:

  • Over 1000 quality improvements
  • Mail for Exchange (MfE) now supports client certificates
  • Localization improvements and support for new error codes with the Facebok app
  • Twitter API changes that reflect the back end infrastructure of Twitter
  • AccuWeather widget weather update fixed
  • VoIP calls now work via Skype/Gtalk when in flight mode and connected to WLAN
  • Changing the “week starts on” date within the calendar error now fixed
  • Network and connectivity improvements
  • Usability and performance improvements

Today, and despite the update having been announced officially on my country’s Nokia N9 support webpage as you can see above, more than four months since the PR1.3 original release, my Nokia N9 is yet to receive it, as you can also see in the screenshot below.

Since I bought the phone unlocked and paid full price at the retailer’s shop, I wondered why I had to wait this absurd amount of time to get this PR update that patches a huge amount of bugs.

Usually, there are two different situations regarding smartphone software updates:

  • You buy the phone to your operator, which usually means it’s carrier-locked, full of the operator’s additional software that most people don’t care about and the phone depends on the operator schedule to receive the firmware updates! The good thing about this is that the phone is usually subsidized by the operator and the customer ends up paying less for the same phone.
  • You buy your phone unlocked at some shop, not attached to some contract or anything, and you get the user experience the phone manufacturer intended when designing the phone.

Unfortunately Nokia, besides having unlocked generic phones (the so-called NDT versions) and the carrier-branded ones decided to create an additional third category:

  • The Country Variants: these are unlocked phones the consumer paid full price for and that may or may not come with some region-specific software pre-installed.

Although Nokia is apparently the only responsible for the approval of their software updates, they usually take much more time to release the updates compared to the generic NDT versions!

In fact, it’s common to see some carrier-locked devices, like Vodafone branded phones, get the PR updates before some Country Variants unlocked phones receive it!

With the N9, it’s even more strange the fact that some third-world countries (probably with residual sales) receive more support and faster firmware updates than some European countries like Portugal.

At this point one might argue: the easy solution is just to buy the NDT version instead of the Country Variant one!

The problem is that Nokia, in countries like Portugal, never released the NDT version of the phone, so you have one of two options:

  • Buy the carrier-locked phone and depend on the operator update schedule
  • Buy the Country Variant phone and wait forever to get the update when and if Nokia decides to release it

Either way you’ll end up waiting, unless you know what you’re doing and flash the phone with some Global firmware variant, voiding the warranty in the meantime.

Nokia should sort this out: avoid having several software variants for hundreds of different product codes for each phone model. At least unlocked devices sold on the same region should all get the same firmware updates at the same time.

Companies like Apple are able to deploy at the same time for everybody new OS versions for several different devices (iPads, iPhone, iPod Touch) of different generations, both carrier-locked and unlocked.

I really didn’t want to void my N9 warranty but for me the waiting is over: I’m going the Navifirm way and flash it with a generic global PR1.3 firmware! Damn You Nokia!

Nokia N9 paid apps: FM Radio (v1.1.3 update)

August 21, 2012

The FM Radio app was one of the first apps I’ve bought for the N9 and that I posted about in this blog.

Since my first post about this app, there were several updates and the app has evolved significantly with a major new UI theme and some important new features such as RDS support.

From version 1.1.2 onwards, there’s another new useful feature: FM broadcast recording.

In the meantime new language translations were added, one of them is my mother tongue: Portuguese!

Since FM Radio has changed significantly since my first video, I’ve made a new one that reflects its current look and feel.

Nokia N9 paid apps: cuteTube

August 19, 2012

The Nokia N9 comes preloaded with a YouTube application, but if you open it, soon you’ll discover it just opens the YouTube mobile website with the browser, which is just a bit disappointing: apparently the YouTube app wasn’t a priority for Nokia.

Besides this, Nokia allows the user to add the YouTube login to the system accounts, making it possible to upload videos to YouTube directly from the gallery, which is a rather nice feature!

cuteTube is a third party app for YouTube and Dailymotion made by Stuart Howarth.

Since the stock app isn’t really an app, cuteTube is kind of an essential app for all YouTube power users.

It has a lot of features:

  • Setup multiple YouTube and Dailymotion accounts
  • Upload HD videos (1080p to YouTube, something an iPhone 4S can’t do!)
  • View subscribed channels, favorites, playlists and comments
  • Check the videos your friends are sharing on the social networks

Another thing I like about cuteTube is the interface: unlike other Harmattan apps, the interface is designed accordingly to the Harmattan UX, for instance, there is no exit button as the interface relies on the Harmattan way of doing things, in this case by swiping from top to bottom!

When I bought cuteTube some months ago, it cost €2 but now it is available at the Nokia Store for €3.

Nokia N9 paid apps: fMobi

August 6, 2012

fMobi is a third party Facebook app for Nokia phones made by JiiKoo for Symbian devices, and, since last year, for MeeGo Harmattan too!

The stock Facebook app that the N9 ships with is quite useful but unfortunately lacks some of the more “advanced” features like search and support for Groups one might have joined and Pages that the user might have liked or subscribed.

The standard Facebook app also has another shortcoming: it does not show all the notifications, especially when they are related to Facebook own apps or invitations to like some Page or join some Group.

I only have tow complaints about it:

  • It appears to hang briefly on startup
  • The chat functionality does not appear to work as well as the N9 own Facebook chat implementation

Other than that, I do really recommend buying this app to all Facebook power-users (and regular users too) that are missing some of the features the native app lacks.

You can find fMobi at the Nokia Store for €2.

Opera Mobile v12 released for MeeGo Harmattan

July 10, 2012

Opera Mobile Labs for the Nokia N9 got recently an update to v12.

Although, as you can see in the screenshot above, the javascript performance didn’t improve compared to the previous version, it’s nice to see Opera Software keeping their MeeGo Harmattan version on par with the other platforms version besides the fact that, of course, it’s always good having a couple of different web browsers available.

Firefox 13 for MeeGo Harmattan

June 25, 2012

Firefox keeps getting updated at a regular pace for the Nokia N9, version 11 and 12 came in a quick succession and now Firefox 13 has arrived at the Nokia Store.

After a failed initial release and a few days missing from the Nokia Store, I was successfully able to install it and run the SunSpider javascript benchmark.

The test ran in approximately the same time as the previous version, which is also, more or less, the same time the PR1.2 stock browser took to complete it: definitely not a brilliant result although acceptable if we took the not so high-end SoC into consideration.

Nokia N9 paid apps: Alchemist

May 1, 2012

Strix Code is a Polish software development company that released some apps and games for the Nokia N9.

When I had an Android smartphone one of the games I used to play was Alchemy, so I soon started to look for an alternative for the N9. I found Alchemist to be one of the pretty good alternatives for those who are looking for this kind of game.

The interface is clean and simple to use and the only improvement I can think of would be, obviously, the addition of even more elements to extend the game lifetime.

You can find Alchemist at the Nokia Store for €2.

Firefox 12 for the N9 just released

April 30, 2012

Back in February I witnessed the release of Firefox 10 for the Nokia N9. In March Firefox 11 was released and now Firefox 12 arrived to the N9 Nokia Store!

While overall I believe there’s a slight improvement on the browser performance, there is a couple of things I didn’t like:

  • The update from v11 failed to install. Although it downloaded the installation package successfully the phone wasn’t able to complete the update. Rebooting the phone didn’t help. I had to uninstall Firefox v11 first and then I was able to install Firefox v12. Not a very elegant solution for a problem that shouldn’t exist in the first place.
  • The javascript performance not only didn’t improve but actually got worse. Not slightly worse but significantly worse: 3845.1 ms, which is disappointing compared to the result Firefox v10 achieved (3284.8 ms).
Meanwhile I finally got the PR1.2 update. It took a long time to receive it because apparently Nokia delayed almost two months the release of the update for the unlocked “Country Variant” devices like mine. I installed it as an update over the air (OTA).
Now I’m wondering if this kind of delta update is somehow influencing the bad Firefox 12 javascript performance and if I had used NSU (Nokia Software Updater) to install the complete PR1.2 firmware image would have helped the overall phone performance.

My thoughts about Stephen Elop strategy for Nokia

April 18, 2012

Lately, there’s a lot of buzz on the web about Stephen Elop strategy for Nokia. The subject is becoming again popular since Nokia released a profit warning and lowered their estimates. Full Q1 results will be reported by Nokia on April 19.

In my opinion, Elop did some good things but also made some mistakes, so here I’m about to share my thoughts on the subject.

The good:
  • Partnership with Microsoft
Bringing MS apps to Symbian and joining the WP ecosystem was necessary as Nokia was losing the battle fighting alone. I believe MS is important for Nokia strategy especially in the USA where Nokia lost almost all brand awareness.
  •  Outsourcing Symbian to Accenture
Nokia already admitted before that Symbian was a huge pain to maintain and was struggling to evolve and match the competition pace. Nokia also needed to get rid of some people in order to make the company lighter (and eventually more agile), so this move seems to me as absolutely necessary.
Symbian was going nowhere and Accenture is apparently making a good job developing it (Belle FP1 looks good!)…
  • Marketing
The “amazing everyday” viral campaign, “blown away by Lumia” campaign, deadmau5 London Lumia launch event, product placement and publicity on TV and magazines was indeed critically needed!
Everybody is talking about iDevices and Android Galaxies and Nokia has to put itself out there and remember people Nokia still exists and is well alive in order to get some mindshare back!!
  • Avoiding the Android temptation
Android is a mess: there’s a lot of competitors, their differentiation arguably bring any benefit (mostly because of slow customizations and ugly UIs), Nokia would have to fight the competition with price, so margins would be really low to remain competitive and then there is the “famous” fragmentation problem caused by Google ultra fast pace of Android release cycles.
Nokia would have to buy most of the necessary hardware from somebody else (like it’s happening with Compal-made Lumias), would launch devices most likely with old Android versions and obsolete hardware (compared to SoC and display manufacturers like Samsung), the firmware update roadmap would be a mess (look at what’s happening with most Android manufacturers) and if Nokia barely keeps everybody happy with their own OSes things would probably get even worst with Android.
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The bad:
  • Burning platform memo
It was a mistake to ditch Nokia current platforms without having a full range of new WP devices to put short-term on the shelves. People stopped buying Nokia in the following months and as there was no alternative they ran to the competition! Other Windows Phone manufacturer’s sales didn’t even explode by that time, so, all in all, appears to me as a dumb move!
  • Killing Harmattan and the Nokia N9
I’m not completely unbiased as I’m a N9 owner but I still think Elop should have made clear that Harmattan and Qt was going to be kept, to evolve, even if at a slow pace and with a limited number of new devices.
A lot of tech-savvy people and Linux enthusiasts love Maemo (or MeeGo as they called Maemo 6.x)!
Harmattan and the Swipe UI clearly have a lot of potential and an innovative (may I call it even revolutionary?) user experience!
Nokia should kept nurturing and learning from it and build an entirely new ecosystem around it and around Qt (to smoothly convert Symbian devs to Harmattan), expanding the platform to emerging markets and even low end devices.
If Samsung can keep Bada and Tizen around, so should Nokia keep their own OS, at least as a Plan B and to avoid being completely dependent on MS roadmap.
  • Not selling the N950
There’s no physical keyboard Lumia device. E7 is just too old.
This is a no-brainer: N950 would be the perfect replacement for this market segment, helping Harmattan sales and simultaneously offering an obvious upgrade path to those loyal customers that are currently using the N97 / E7.
There’s not much competition on this type of device so it would have been most certainly a success!
  •  Getting rid of several Nokia (ex-Ovi) services
Nokia dropped the online Calendar and Contacts web services and focused on the Nokia Maps service.
Nokia Store, for instance, has carrier billing in several countries and Nokia receives some money for each app that’s sold there.
MS controls the WP Marketplace and all the cloud services for Lumia devices.
If Nokia has kept Harmattan and the Nokia Store (and services) around that would have been a smart move because if in the future Nokia partnership with MS fails, at least they would still have a great OS with Nokia’s own app store where developers, carriers and Nokia itself could make money of and build their own ecosystem around.
WP will always be MS playground and Nokia will have only limited (if any) revenue options with their Marketplace.
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In the end, I think it’s just not very smart to bet the future of a huge company like Nokia in just one single platform. Betting the whole company strategy on a system like Windows Phone (that was and still is pretty small) with weak sales since the beginning just doesn’t make any sense. Not keeping Harmattan around as plan B seems even more risky…
I hope Nokia can recover from the downward path they’re going through and return to a position of market leadership in the future!