Archive for the ‘Mobiles’ Category

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New BMW Concept Electric Car with iPhone App?

December 17, 2009

P90054917 BMW already have an electric car in their stable, the Mini-E, which has begun trials with selected members of the public. Now BMW are adding to the fleet of electric vehicles with the BMW Concept ActiveE; an electric vehicle under the BMW brand. More specifically it is a 1 Series Coupé. The interesting thing and the reason why I am writing about this is that in the press release there is mention of BMW’s ConnectedDrive services which allow a phone to connect to the vehicle to operate certain vehicle features and statuses:

“This includes specific remote functions which enable the use of a mobile phone to check the charge status of the battery, search for public charging stations and activate the vehicle’s auxiliary heating and air conditioning functions.”

While there is no mention of any brand of phone in particular, the press images do include some images which may be mock-ups of an iPhone application.

Some of the features which seem to be shown in the iPhone app images include: locate a charging station; schedule climate control; charge status and mileage remaining.

The vehicle itself is is said to give a maximum output of 170bhp and a maximum torque of 250Nm. 0-62mph is expected to be less than 9 seconds with top speed of 90mph (electronically limited) and range of up to 100 miles. If you have access to a 50amp connection, the car can be fully charged in as little as three hours.

Hopefully we will see some of these ConnectedDrive features from other manufacturers also without having to resort to third party add-ons in the near future.

BMW ConceptE BMW ConceptE BMW ConceptE

BMW ConceptE - iPhone App BMW ConceptE - iPhone App BMW ConceptE - iPhone App

BMW ConceptE - iPhone App BMW ConceptE - iPhone App BMW ConceptE - iPhone App

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Nokia N97 Gets v20 Firmware Update

October 27, 2009

Nokia Software Update application Today saw the release of the long awaited v20 firmware update which was expected to bring kinetic scrolling throughout all menus on the N97, being able to hold keys down to access the alternative character/number when typing as well as some other much needed bug fixes. One important feature which was expected, Skype, is not included and is expected again, at a later date.

An excerpt of the change list from Steve Litchfield at All About Symbian:
Improvements in firmware 20.2.019 are:

  • A reworked memory mapping model – this means that applications use the (relatively) limited RAM much more efficiently and you should rarely see any memory errors. Note that the available ‘Free RAM’ after booting is now a lot less (around 47MB), but don’t take this raw number too literally – apps apparently use less RAM than before
  • Kinetic scrolling in the User Interface in all lists and larger-than-screen views
  • The keyboard driver has been enhanced so that a long press on any key brings up its associated ‘function’ symbol (or number)
  • Music player shows album art more reliably, plus extra MP3 ID3 information
  • Half a dozen new social media and services widgets have been added by default
  • Camera still and video improvements…

For those of you running a sim-free unlocked UK Nokia N97, the v12 update has only been able since the 17th of October, there may be quite a wait for v20 unless the posts on the Nokia forum have been read.

The update is probably only available to Euro sim-free variants but worth a try if you have a non-operator branded handset from another region. For more information check out this post on how to update your N97 firmware. Over the air updates using the built-in Software app may not be available for a few days.

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Opera Mini Beta 5 – Optimised for N97 et al.

September 21, 2009

The previous version of Opera Mini worked well on Symbian S60 3rd Edition handsets but wasn’t conceived in anticipation of the touch-screen version of the S60, S60 5th Edition, which can be found on the Nokia N97 and the 5800, to name two. As a result touch functionality didn’t work and the user had to fall back to the hardware keys of the N97 and the virtual keypad of the 5800.

Opera has now released Opera Mini Beta 5 which is a godsend for those with a touch-screen mobiles and brings with it some great new features that should have been part of the inbuilt browser of the Nokia N97, in particular. So, what does Opera Mini Beta 5 offer besides touch friendly browsing.

 Scr000033 Scr000034 Scr000038 Scr000039 Scr000042

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tabbed Browsing
An awesome feature especially on a mobile device which has a small screen. The native S60 browser doesn’t handle multiple windows well and to force a new window you have to create a custom page/bookmark hack as the feature is not available natively. The way this has been implemented on S60 5th adds to the usability as the thumbnails of the page are shown in the tab, which will work well for those who prefer to see the colours/images of a page rather than read the name of the tab to identify it.

Select Text/Copy
One thing that Nokia have missed the boat on is the copying of content from the web browser with their S60 devices. Opera opens up this feature and is activated by pressing down on the screen until a balloon with “Select Text” appears. Once text is highlighted, by dragging a finger or stylus across the screen, another balloon pops up offering options to “Copy,” “Search,” or “Search with,” which allows you to select a search engine. Nice time saving features allowing information to be freed from the browser.

Save Page
You can save web pages to the device so they can be viewed offline. Another cool feature allowing pages to be saved, just like on a PC browser but for a mobile device, options can be set as to where you would like pages saved on the phone, to prevent those ‘low disk space’ errors!

On-Screen QWERTY Keyboard
A handy feature for the N97 which doesn’t have this natively. Sure, there is a physical keyboard but sometimes you aren’t typing enough to warrant opening the keyboard, but just enough that the on-screen number pad becomes an inconvenience.

Speed Dial
Opera Mini b5 can be set to open up on the Speed Dial page, a grid of 9 thumbnails representing your favourite sites, providing you with quick access to them from start up. This has replaced my Start.io homepage and instead the Start.io page can have a speed dial box.

Password Manager
If you hate signing-in to sites over and over again, the password manager will be a boon, although if you frequently misplace your phones, this feature may be better left unused.

I have been Opera Mini Beta 5 briefly, but some sites aren’t formatted correctly, resulting in text overlaps, yet these pages appear normally in the default S60 browser. There’s no bookmark sync, which might have been the feature to get me to install Opera on my PC! Due to the addition of kinetic scrolling for touch-screen devices, the screen no longer snaps to the edges of paragraphs, so when scrolling up and down, unless you keep your finger, thumb or stylus on a perfectly vertical trail, you will find the page moving horizontally also. On a positive note, browsing on Opera Mini remains snappy, great access to pages using speed dial and tabs adds to the experience. With the addition of the qwerty keyboard, convenience and speed seems to have been the primary focus of this release. This is great progress on a great app and a lot of thought seems to have gone into improving the mobile browsing experience, which can be a chore at times!

Give the app a try if you haven’t used it before: opera.com/mini/next.

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Remove Boingo Access Point from the N97

August 13, 2009

A pet hate of mine is pre-installed apps on devices, especially when they can’t be removed from the paltry storage space provided. In the case of the N97, you may have started up the Boingo application that comes pre-installed, by mistake with no intention of ever using it, only to find out that it adds a new Internet Access Point to your Destinations that cannot be removed! The only solution until now has been to carry out a soft reset of the phone.

Thanks to the observant matt_t at the Nokia Discussion Forums, it seems that Boingo have buckled to the emails from users and provided a way to remove the Boingo access point that is automatically created. Unfortunately, the Boingo app along with Joikuspot and Qik are tied into the ROM and taking up space, but at least it’s a start.

“The Nokia N97 comes pre-loaded with three months of free Boingo Wi-Fi. Like other native N97 applications (Contacts, Calendar), the Boingo application is pre-installed and cannot be removed. The first time you launch Boingo, a Boingo IAP (Internet Access Point) will be created under Internet Destinations. However, if you choose not to activate your free Boingo account, neither the application nor the IAP will interfere with your other connections.

If you wish to remove the Boingo IAP, simply run the “Boingo IAP Remover,” which removes the IAP (if present) from your device.

If at a later time, you wish to activate your free Boingo account, simply re-launch the application, which will re-create the Boingo IAP.”

Boingo Access Point Remover for Nokia N97 from Boingo.com

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Free Applications for the N97

August 12, 2009

applications Being a relatively new platform in terms of software offerings, users of the Nokia N97, may be looking for the latest and greatest apps to use on their device or to show off its features. The Series 60 5th Edition Symbian operating system is shared with the Nokia 5800 as well as several other handsets from other manufacturers but unlike Apple’s iPhone and Android based mobiles, the enthusiast/developer community doesn’t seem as active. To help get the word out about cool apps for those new to the device, I present a list of what I found interesting…to get you started:

Dr Jukka’s Key Lock Clock
Excellent app which displays a large digital clock on the standby screen when a button is pressed. The newer build of this app activates the clock by pressing the menu button only so you may wish to get the older version. I prefer to use the volume keys; being left handed, getting the thumb to the Menu key is like trying to lick my elbow.
http://drjukka.com/KeyLockClock.html

Dr Jukka’s Y-Browser
If you mess around with files, file locations and would like to see the drives and folders hidden by the standard Nokia File Manager, grab this app. You won’t get to see the protected directories but it’s better than the standard offering. Don’t forget to check out the plugins such as the Mail Folder plugin which lets you save files from the SMS inbox and back them up to any drive/folder.
http://drjukka.com/YBrowser.html

Time Machine 2.0
Scr000029 For some reason the N97, does not have a stop watch or timer. Time Machine, now on version 2 provides a basic countdown timer and uptimer as well as a new clock mode which can be left on and used as a desk clock. The app looks like something you would see on Apple’s App Store, from the interface you wouldn’t know it was a Symbian app. I’ve been wondering who wrote this great app and think I have tracked the author down to a poster named Sheludkov at the DailyMobile.se forums.

http://dailymobile.se/2009/07/13/symbian-time-machine-for-nokia-n97-and-nokia-5800-updated-to-v2/

Mobbler
Scr000024 If you use last.fm to stream music based on your preferences and like to ‘scrobble’ your music (I think this is where music you listen to is logged by last.fm as a measure of your tastes! Last.fm, Parlez vous Anglais?), then this app will come in handy as it lets you scrobble and listen to a music stream based on your chosen artist or tag. Warning: requires an Internet connection.
http://code.google.com/p/mobbler/

Nokia Sports Tracker
An essential app when I had a Nokia N95. When coupled with the built-in or external GPS receiver, you can record your journeys, see how fast you were going or just upload to sportstracker.nokia.com as a record of your runs or cycling trips. Your journeys can be saved to a file compatible with Google Earth and overlaid to show your route!
http://sportstracker.nokia.com

CoolIRC
If you want to jump into IRC and chat, this is an essential app. With the N97’s qwerty keyboard, there’s no excuse! There is also phIRC which I haven’t tried.
http://www.coolirc.za.net/

Compass Touch
Since the N97 has a magnetometer, it is a shame that outside of Nokia maps there isn’t an app that uses it extensively, like Layar for Android handsets. Even in Nokia Maps, there isn’t a dedicated compass, if that is all you want, grab Compass Touch, it is a nice looking compass that doesn’t do much else but is cool nonetheless.
If the link below doesn’t work, go to http://store.ovi.com and sign in or set your phone to the N97.
http://store.ovi.com/content/6E48B6D01950F915E040050A85323E71

Google Maps
Google Maps on the Nokia N97 showing Transit Layers Being out and about with Internet access means you have a wealth of information at your fingertips, if only it was easy to extract. If you are in need of a restaurant, cinema, bar or shop in an unfamiliar area, a quick search in the Google Maps app can pinpoint locations matching your search term.

Coupled with Google Maps is the ability to see where your friends are or to report your own location, if you are comfortable, with Latitude. The recent addition of ‘Layers’ means that the London Underground maps can be seen in non-topological format over the map of London. If you want to know where you are heading before you get there, satellite and street views are available options.
http://m.google.com and select Maps

Fring
The N97 seems to have been crippled when it comes to VOIP/SIP capability, but this doesn’t mean the proprietary Skype is out of bounds. Despite there not being an official Skype client that doesn’t use a phone call to make the first hop, there isn’t a shortage of other apps offering Skype support. One of these is Fring which also includes support for MSN/Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and posting to Twitter. I have read a number of times that Skype ‘is due later in the year’ or ‘due in the big update in Autumn’ but not from an official source other than word of a big update in the Autumn.
http://fring.com

Palringo
Like Fring, Palringo provides access to your friends on multiple messaging networks. The one field where Palringo excels is in allowing you to send a picture from the camera or audio recording to friends. It also supports location reporting using GPS.
http://Palringo.com

Digia’s @Web
Digia @Web on the Nokia N97 If like me you find the current S60 browser to cause a minor annoyance everytime the interface pops up and juts into the page you are viewing forcing it to move down abruptly, and then move up when the bars disappear, or hate the large buttons taking up valuable display area in landscape and portrait modes, you might want to try @Web. Like other thought out browsers, bars slide over the existing page, while they do obscure content slightly, if you are reading something when the interface features appear/disappear, at least you wont lose your reading point, as the page doesn’t move. Supporting the standards and minimal Flash the standard browser supports, this app is still in beta so it is functional but problems may be experienced.
http://www.digia.com/C2256FEF0043E9C1/0/405001847

Skyfire – I would recommend this for viewing sites with Flash video or any other media the standard browser can’t handle but there is no sign of a version for the 5th edition and 3rd edition doesn’t work correctly. I also contacted Skyfire for comment and they couldn’t be bothered to reply back…yes I checked my spam folder.

If you have any free apps to recommend, please post them in the comments!

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Warning for N97 Users: Potential Fire Hazard

August 12, 2009

ca-146c If you have a Nokia N97, you will probably have received the Nokia CA-146C in the box, an adapter so you can use the two popular Nokia chargers (3.5mm and 2mm connections) with your N97 which uses a Micro USB connection.

I myself have briefly used the adapter with an in car charger, Nokia DC-4, and experienced the adapter to be so hot that it was like trying to hold a hot bulb. It occurred to me that this seemed abnormal but I thought nothing more of it at the end of a short charge.

A user over at the All About Symbian forums and another at the Nokia discussion forums have both experienced overheating of the adapter unit also but with dire consequences. According to their pictures, the CA-146C has become so hot that the outer casing has melted, one of of their cases so much so, that it reveals the innards.

A quick scan for any reference to the adapter in the manual for the N97 proved fruitless, maybe I am going blind. However, the item is listed at Nokia UK’s site, listing the following devices as compatible with the CA-146C:

“Nokia Charger Adapter CA-146C enables you to charge your microUSB phone, accessory or other device using your exisiting(sic) Nokia 2.0 or 3.5mm charger. E.g.
Nokia Travel Charger AC-4
Nokia Compact Travel Charger AC-5
Nokia Travel Charger ACP-12
Nokia Retractable Car Charger DC-9
Nokia Mobile Charger DC-4
Nokia Mobile Charger LCH-12

I have the DC-4 but am not willing to test the limits of this thing again after feeling how hot the adapter got the first time around.

Consider this a warning. Don’t charge your phone using the adapter for long periods or leave it unattended when charging until we hear more from Nokia.

UPDATE: I askied Nokia if they had heard anything and if they would like to comment on this issue, I received the following reply:

“We have received information of a few individual Nokia CA-146C charger adapters which may have malfunctioned during the charging of a device. Product quality is clearly a top priority for Nokia and we started to investigate this issue immediately. We will take any corrective steps which prove necessary in order to facilitate the best possible customer experience.”

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A Problem with the Nokia N97

July 17, 2009

Nokia N97 - Low memory error - techstatic.net I’ve had the Nokia N97 for a few weeks now and am getting used to the small niggles and problems that were observed during the initial setup of the device along with some minor awkwardness scrolling the menus due to being left-handed. One of the biggest, if not THE biggest problem with Nokia’s flagship(!) handset is the way storage has been implemented and used on the handset.

The N97 has multiple drives of these the main areas intended for user access are:

C: drive which could be considered the system drive, traditionally applications would be installed here as it is always available to the phone/system and is supposed to be the fastest in handsets with just a central storage and a memory card;

E: drive, the large 32GB storage provided for your videos, music and other files;

F:, if you have a memory card inserted into the card slot, it will appear as the F: drive and can be used as additional storage for photos from the camera and any other applications that let you select this drive.

How Drives Are Handled
In my experience from previous S60 handsets with a main storage and card storage, the main storage (C: drive) would be substantial in size. This would make it ideal for storing emails, messages, and installing applications. The memory card wasn’t suitable for such things as it would cause applications to slow down, probably due to the access speeds via the card reader and the speed of the card itself. Additionally, when the phone is connected to a Windows PC via USB, the card drive is mounted and anything on it becomes inaccessible from the phone itself, not a problem as everything of importance was installed on the C: drive.

With the N97, the miniscule size of the C: drive at 73MB makes (with around 40-50MB free from new) it impractical for installing anything other than the most important applications and maybe a theme. After setting up most of my applications to the Mass Memory (E: drive) and only using C: for the essential apps, messages and a theme from PiZero, with other apps installed to E:, I have 10.1MB left. Since installing the C: drive optimisation update, something has eaten up around 8MB, possibly the Web browser’s cache.

Use PC Suite Mode
So what can you do? To start with, when connecting the phone to the PC to transfer files, stick to PC Suite mode. In Mass Storage mode, the drives are mounted and Mass Storage (E:) and the Memory Card (F:) become unavailable to the phone. As space saving on C: becomes almost an essential ‘house-keeping’ task, inevitably, you may have installed applications to the Mass Storage and maybe even moved your messages there. During connection to the PC this drive becomes unavailable in PC Suite mode and so your apps and message store is unavailable. If your theme was installed there, the phone will default to one of the default themes. If you receive a message whilst the phone is connected in this way, it may be saved to the C: drive, splitting your message store. So, stick to PC Suite mode.

Move and remove non-essential items
Additionally, clear out the cache of the Web browser and if you have Google Maps installed, the downloaded mapping data maybe taking up valuable space, clear this go to Options > Tools > Reset Google Maps.

To keep things clear, ensure in the camera settings that you are using Mass Memory or Memory Card to store the pictures you take. If you haven’t moved your message store over to Mass Memory, ensure you delete unnecessary messages and installation files you have have transferred over the the phone. If you wish to move your message store go to: Messages > Options > Settings > Other > Memory in use. If after moving your messages to the E: drive, and you connect the phone in PC Suite Mode, you may be able to switch the phone to Offline/Flight mode to ensure you do not receive any messages whilst the E: drive is unavailable. Once you have finished working in PC Suite, return the phone back to an online profile to receive any messages queued up by the network. This cannot be used when carrying out a software update however as you require an online profile such as General.

Check with all other applications that you use to see if they have an option to change the drive they use for any storage.

Hopefully in future, Nokia will create a larger primary partition/drive for applications and other files that won’t become unavailable when connected to the PC and so will ensure there are no running problems due to limited space on the primary drive. Until then, N97 users and those using handsets with a similar setup, will ahve to watch what they install, where they install and where their apps save data. There should also be an option to clear out the temp folder on the C: drive safely, I didn’t advise clearing out the temp folder in case something important gets saved there by an application whilst in use, but is always an option.

Incidentally, the image you see at the top about the limited space on drive C:, that only appeared as I was writing this article and I’d never seen it before, so it was worth a picture!