Posts Tagged ‘Symbian’

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I have a Nokia N97…

July 9, 2009

The Nokia N97 was released ‘sim-free’ in the UK a week before it was available for purchase on contract with the mobile networks. I chose to purchase the N97 in black and I am tied into an 18 month contract for it. For those interested, the handset was £29.99 on a £35 a month tariff including T-Mobile’s Internet add-on. Yes, I paid for it but whether paid for or not, I can be just as critical or praising of a product. Over a few articles I will write about the handset, software, shortcomings and improvements. Today, I start with my observations of the handset itself.

Upon opening the package, you see the handset, battery and stylus presented on the top layer of within the box. Below were the USB cable, charger and charger convertor (for current non-USB Nokia chargers). Also in the box was a £20 Nokia Music Store voucher along with an installation CD for the Ovi Suite and the standard manuals and leaflets advertising other features. The handset was lighter than I expected, it didn’t have the feeling of density like a handset such as the n95 or 6120, and felt as if there was some air/space within the handset, at this point the battery and SIM hadn’t been installed.

The Handset
The battery cover has a matt finish to the plastic , which is shared with the main chassis of the phone. It provides fair grip (but none when hands are bone dry!) and fingerprint resistance (an insignificant concern for me), as long as you haven’t just eaten a chicken wing. The camera cover on the rear is a square sliding piece of what seems like painted metal but may just be the finish that makes it feel like so and has a small band of blue colour on the edge which matches the highlights on the keyboard. Under the sliding lens cover is the camera which is set under a clear piece of plastic, with an opening for the dual LED flash.

Along the edge of the main body, there are several buttons. Starting at the top, next to the central 3.5mm headphone jack, is the power button, small, silver, plastic and sitting flush with the body of the phone. Along the left side starting at the top corner, there is a speaker, inset into the handset, the mesh is visible and the whole thing will be a housing for dust. Further down the left side is the Micro USB socket for data transfers and charging, next to which is a small dot which lights up white when charging. Halfway down the left side is the sliding unlock switch. The switch is raised from the body of the phone with three raised ridges and made  from plastic. It is spring loaded so sliding it downwards unlocks the handset and then it springs back up into place. At the bottom of the left side is the second speaker. On the bottom edge of the phone, halfway along is a notch where a nail can be used to prise off the battery cover. To the right of this is a recess for the microphone. Along the right side of the handset from the  bottom, there is a matt silver camera button with a picture of a camera  printed on in matt white paint. Further up the right side of the phone are the volume/zoom buttons, again finished in matt-silver. It is a simple, single piece rocker button but with the ‘up’ button having a small raised circle and the ‘down’ button having a recessed circle, so they can be identified by touch alone. Above the plastic black surround which makes up the main chassis of the handset, is a thin matt-silver lip running all the way around the edge where the fold up screen makes contact with the main body of the phone.

 

The screen unit is a single piece making up around a third of the phone’s body thickness and attached to the main chassis only by the hinge mechanism and a thin ribbon cable. The screen unit or the ‘lid’ has a dark chrome surround which might anger the fingerprint resistance mob. On the face of the phone screen in the top left corner is the proximity sensor, used to deactivate the touch-screen if you are taking a call. The last thing you want is to be hanging up or deafening yourself by activating the loudspeaker with your cheek. In the middle, next to the proximity  sensor is a long slit under which sits the earpiece, another bum-fluff trap,. In the top right corner of the front is a lower res camera and light sensor. Below the widescreen 640 x 360, 3.5 inch display there are three more controls. In the bottom left corner there is a silver pill shaped, chrome effect plastic button which has a white backlight that pulses on and off for notifications, or can be set to pulse as normal. To the right of this, are the green and red pick-up/hang-up touch keys.

Opening up the phone is a simple case of holding the phone in a landscape fashion, with fingers keeping a grip of the main chassis of the handset and thumbs pushing the left side (which now faces you) of the dark chrome surround away from yourself. The pressure forces the hinge mechanism to rise and take the screen with it and then lock in what seems like a 45 degree angle. The lid opens with a nice solid thud and this is because of two rubber plugs that the lower edge of the screen bumps and rests against when in the raised position. When closing the screen the same applies again at the top edge of the screen, with another two rubber pads providing a buffer to dampen the action. Not a real major issue but be careful not to push too hard with this mechanism and ensure you have a good grip near the top of the phone when opening, or it may slip out of your grip and onto the floor!

When the screen is in the raised position, the ribbon cable can just about be seen from the side and a large hinge mechanism which also acts as a barrier to prevent anything entering the area below the screen where the ribbon is folded. The larger part of the hinge mechanism looks and feels like a solid piece of metal. It has some of the highlight features of the phone listed along it in white paint, such as 32GB, A-GPS, WLAN and FM RDS. With the screen raised,  the surface of lower chassis is exposed upon which there is the phones keyboard and directional buttons.

The 33 key keyboard and directional pad with a button in the centre seem to be made of plastic with a texture on them that makes them feel slightly rubberised. On the black version of the N97, the keys are black, with white for the main characters and blue for the alternate characters such as numbers and brackets etc. The spacing of the keys isn’t like a conventional keyboard with they keys staggered on each row. Instead the alignment is like a grid, with the keys directly aligned below each other. The only place this varies is the bottom row of the keyboard where the Space bar takes up the width of 1 and a half keys and is located on the right side of the board. The Symbol button and Blue Arrow button being two thirds the width of a normal button. The Symbol button brings up the list of characters and symbols on screen and the blue arrow key allows the selection of the blue characters on the keyboard. The shift key on the left side of the keyboard functions like a traditional shift key.

On the far left side of the keyboard is the directional pad. It is a rounded square with a button for selection in the centre. No good for gaming if you are the type to roll your thumb around a d-pad. It is more suited to the lift and poke style of control, otherwise you risk pressing the central select button.

Removing the rear cover for the phone had me concerned that the clips or cover might be damaged over time, especially if you are a traveller and frequently changing SIMs. Instead of a solid sliding action, a sliding clip or release button, the rear cover is a partially flexible plastic which must be prised off, an action that releases the clips along the sides until you reach the top edge near the camera. The SIM card requires the battery to be taken out. Along the top edge of the battery tray, there is a small metal lip, which when pulled out reveals the SIM tray. drop the SIM card in and push the tray back in, job done. Also under the battery cover, near the camera is the memory card slot, which lets you increase the storage using a Micro SDHC card. Current marketing and specs say the phone can have up to 48GB of storage, indicating that the phone has been tested with a 16GB card. No doubt larger cards can be used as long as they are standards compliant. Placing the back cover on requires slotting the top end in above the camera and the forcing the clips back in along both edges of the phone until flush. There is no particular skill required here other than to align the two clips at the top of the cover and the whole process feels quite clumsy as opposed to the opening mechanism of the screen.

That’s it for today, more on the phone and how I am getting on with it in later articles. I will also provide some recommendations of apps that are compatible with S60 5th edition. As with all variations of the Symbian platform, there is usually bugger all by way of applications when a new version is available. This has been eased somewhat with the Nokia 5800 having been out for a few months but the developer community may have fragmented with the iPhone and Android platforms open to development.

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Nokia’s Ovi Store now open!

May 26, 2009

Nokia’s Ovi Store, revealed at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this year is now being rolled out worldwide, according to All About Symbian who also report that it has gone live in the UK.

I had a look last night on my Nokia N95 to see if it was available but there was nothing new. This morning however, an Ovi Store icon had appeared in the Download App. Here are a few of my observations of the new store.

Ovi Store Version - Techstatic.net The blurb for the Ovi Store app in the Nokia Download App is as follows:

“Ovi Store offers access to a marketplace featuring paid and free content from a variety of partners. Games, videos, apps and more are all available from Ovi Store via an application optimized for your mobile. Download Ovi Store today!”

Sounds good, how does it fare in practice?

The current version of the Ovi App installer, for Symbian S60 V3, is 1.05(212). Installation is straightforward, as with any standard app although a popup did appear saying the phone should be restarted after the installation had completed.

Main Interface
Ovi Store Splash Screen - Techstatic.net The interface looks clean and simple, good for a small mobile screen. At the top of the screen is the section menu, allowing the user to switch between different screens relating to: My Stuff (download history); Recommended Applications; Games, Audio & video, Personalisation.

Simply pressing left or right on the d-pad on non-touch phones changes between these sections. The page content updates as you switch between sections. Currently there can be a bit of a delay in loading the section content, only three or four seconds at most, I expect this is due to the roll-out of Ovi store and a high load of people trying the new service out.

Directly beneath the section navigation is a link to let you search the content of the current section. For example if you were in the Personalisation section, the link would read “Search Personalisation”. Clicking on the link takes you to the search page with a simple search field, Search button and a Sign In/Sign Out button. Incidentally, Signing out from this page, results in you being returned to the section menu you were previously viewing, rather than keeping you on the Search page. To search another section, you have to go back out to the main content list and go to section you want using the left and right buttons on the d-pad.

Ovi Store Item Listing - Techstatic.netSelecting content from the list is as easy as using the d-pad to move the highlight cursor up and down the items and selecting the item you wish to see more information on. The list displays ten items with basic information such as Title; Icon/Image; Category; Price; and Rating, out of three stars. A featured app at the top of the content list gets a slightly bigger box than the rest of the list items but the rating and category names aren’t displayed, in favour of a FEATURED title and a short strapline.

Below the content list (items such as apps, games or wallpapers), is a link to the next page of content for the section and a Sign In/Sign Out button.

Selecting an item in the content list takes you to its dedicated page.

Item Listing

Product Page Ovi Store - Techstatic.net When you go to the page for an item you are presented a larger icon/image for the application. Depending on what was uploaded to the Ovi service, this could be a company or application logo or a shrunken screenshot of the app. Next to the image is the price, title of the app and the publisher or developer. The publisher/developer name will be highlighted so you can click it to see if there are more apps and resources on the Ovi Store from them. If there are more images of the app available, smaller thumbnails will appear in the space below the price, publisher and title.

Below the main information about the app, for free items is a large Download button.For items that require payment, this will by a Buy button, clicking it will require you to enter your password again to confirm that you wish to purchase it. If you are signed in, another button, ”Send to Friend,” will be available. At the moment, on the Send to Friend page I am shown that I have five messages remaining, allowing me to notify five people about items on the Ovi Store. Since there is a five text allowance, I assume these are free and after the five are used up I will probably be charged – now there’s something to check the terms and conditions for as well as the privacy agreement.

Product Page Ovi Store - Techstatic.net Immediately below the download button are three large and prominent stars which show the current rating the item has on the store. The next thing on the page is the description for the item you are looking at which includes the Size and Type of app, such as Widget or Application.

If anyone has reviewed the item, this will appear below the description. There is also a button so you can read more reviews and if signed in, a button to let you write and rate an app. Writing a review allows you to specify a rating out of three, a title for your review and the review itself.

Below the Review section will be a few related items, if you wish to see more there is a button to see More Related items. If there is a problem with the app or its listing you can file a report using the Report Issue button. Reporting an issue involved selecting from one of seven options to categorise your report: Obscenity; Violence; Abuse; Spam; Fraud; Racism; or Other. There is also a box where you can specify what the issue is. There is a note saying that you username will be included with the report.

Finally on the item page is a button to let you return to the Section listings you can from i.e. Applications, games etc. The right softkey also works as a Back button in this instance.


Menus
The left soft key, labelled Options, brings up a menu with the following options:

Suggested for me(*)
Most Popular
Most Recent
Show Free Only
Show Paid Only
Show all(*)
Channels – not available on some sections
Categories – not available on some sections
Account >
Settings
Sign out
Privacy Policy
Ovi terms
Store Terms
Help
Exit.

Ovi Store Installation PreferencesProduct Page Ovi Store - Techstatic.netThe first few options allow you to filter content and I shall go into this in a bit.

Within Settings there are three sub-sections:

Account Info – from where you canview and edit your Nokia account details and specify contact preferences;

Change Password – change your Nokia Account password;

Installation Preferences – lets you specify which storage medium you wish to use between memory card and internal storage for Applications and Games and another for Images and Videos, both locations can be on the same storage.

On the N95, occasionally, I had a problem where I would enter the Settings menu to see the three sections listed, as above. Pressing down to activate the highlight cursor (the system of changing the colour of the menu option that is selected, to identify to the user as selected) so I could select a menu item, would not do anything. Pressing up on the d-pad would activate the cursor and then I could press up and down as I wanted to move between menu items. It seems to be the initial activation of the cursor that allows me to select an item is broken.

Other menu items such as Privacy Policy and Ovi Terms give direct links to the current Privacy Policies and Terms and Conditions for the application, store, purchases and your data and all the other legal stuff.

The Help menu option takes you to a single scrollable page with simple information about the Ovi Store; creating a Nokia Account; signing in to the Ovi Store; searching the Ovi Store; viewing items on the Store; reading and writing reviews; sharing favourites with friends;  reporting inappropriate content and editing the store settings. At the bottom of the Help page is a button labelled Customer Support. which takes you to a form where, if signed in, your details a pre-filled and you can select a topic from the drop down box and in another box, write what you require help about.


Filters
The first options on the menu allow you to filter content as follows:

Suggested for me(*) – items suggested by the store, probably based on purchases or viewing habits;
Most Popular – most popular items , most likely to be defined by views or purchases as many unrated items appeared in this list;
Show Free only – displays only free items, although some have slipped through the net which charge after a free period of service, according to reviews;
Show paid only – if you don’t care for freebies, all chargeable apps are shown using this option;
Show all(*) – remove all filters.

Ovi Store Filters Menu Product Page Ovi Store - Techstatic.net I am unsure what the asterisk in brackets meant and assumed using the Star key would alternate between those filters; I tried pressing the Star key on the keypad to no avail.

The problem with filters is that they have to be re-applied when switching between sections, the store does not remember that a filter has been applied and as such it is more of a view/sub section rather than a real filter. If I go into Games and apply the Show Free Only filter option, I am given a list of games listed as free. Now if I press Right on the d-pad to switch to the Audio & Video Section, the filter is no longer active and paid-for apps are included in the listings. Going back to games doesn’t recall the filtered view there either, once you leave a section all filters are cleared.

Channels: currently this option just brings up a page saying “There are no channels for this area” along with a Sign In/Sign Out button.

Ovi Store Categorised Listing Product Page Ovi Store - Techstatic.net The categories option stuck near the bottom of the menu would probably have been better placed near the top or as a number pad shortcut, maybe even a horizontal scrolling menu below the Section menu on the main page. Selecting this option brings up a list of the categories available for the section of the store you are looking at (eg Games: Action; Arcade; Adventure). Selecting a category will display the items in the current section under that category. Categories also suffer from menu amnesia, as with filters, once you leave the section by pressing left or right on the d-pad.

Filters and categories can be combined but only one way. A category can be selected within Applications, such as City Guides/Maps and then in the resulting view, the Show Free Only filter can be applied to show only free City Guides/Maps applications. Try this the other way around and apply the Show Free Only filter and then select the City Guides/Maps category and you should see that paid for apps also appear in the list.

If for some reason the Ovi Store isn’t available on your handset in your region just yet or the operator hasn’t enabled it, you can always try the online Ovi Store.

Also, another thing to note, if you use an app such as SkyeQuiKey ot T9Nav to ‘dial’ an app, for the Ovi Store app, you have to dial 78673 as the app is called Store rather than Ovi Store!

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Google Latitude now lets you stalk friends!

February 4, 2009

I’m trying out a different post method for this one in an attempt to get to the point!

Today, Google launched Latitude, which is a location based feature integrated into Google Maps and accessible from the iGoogle and most expandable mobile devices.

Who: Google

What: Google Latitude – a location aware app that lets you see where your friends/contacts are on a map and lets you provide your GPS location information via a GPS enabled device for others to see. Manual location selection is available.

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