Archive for October, 2009
This latest news really doesn’t come as much of a surprise to me personally. Reuters is reporting that Nokia’s N-Gage gaming service will be shut down at the end of September 2010. The community site will be open through the end of 2010 and then all future games will be available through the Ovi Store. I like the interface of N-Gage (very much like XBox 360 gamer tag system) and thought it offered some good games, but it just never seemed to take off no matter how hard Nokia tried. I had to designate one device to gaming because it was virtually impossible to transfer game license to another device and I never could stay with one device too long.
I doubt this shutdown will affect too many people, except for the die hard gamers. I personally enjoy games purchased through companies like Spb Software House and Astraware on my Nokia devices and found little use for N-Gage. I haven’t found an official press release yet so am not stating this as fact yet.
Are any readers N-Gage fans? Will you miss the service?
UPDATE: There is now a post over on the N-Gage Blog and as you can see all your game will still be playable after 2010, you just won’t have the social, connected aspects available.
This week Nokia held official N900 meetups around the world, including at the Chicago and New York Flagship stores. Unfortunately, there is no Flagship store here in the Seattle area so I was unable to attend, but I am going to bring a meetup to you here in Western Washington. Are you enjoying all my coverage of the Nokia N900? Would you like to touch and feel the device yourself? How about seeing a lineup of the Nokia N800 and N810, along with a few other Nokia devices like the N97, N96, N93, N81 8GB? Thanks to the folks at Nokia WOM World we are having a local meetup in Tacoma, Washington at the Round Table Pizza just off of I-5 between Tacoma and Lakewood on Friday, 6 November between 6:30 and 9:00 pm. I’ll give a demo of the N900 on a projector using the TV-out functionality on the device and then let people ask questions and enjoy the evening getting hands-on time with the device.
There was a similar grass-roots effort meetup held in San Francisco last night and hopefully we will see more of these around the country. The N900 really is a fantastic device and I like this eval unit so much I pre-ordered my own for $550 and can’t wait for the official launch when developers have had even more time to create applications and refine the experience.
FYI, Nokia is supporting the event so I will be having pizza and soda provided in the meeting room at the restaurant. Sorry, I’ve decided to skip the beer this time and keep this an alcohol-free venue so I can focus on sharing my devices and experiences rather than worrying about people drinking too much and testing the durability of my devices;) If you are planning to come to this local Tacoma-area meetup, please visit the Nokia Experts Facebook Group site and RSVP so I can figure out how many people may show up. If we get a crazy response we may have to limit attendees (there is room for 30), but we’ll see how much interest we have in the Tacoma area. I plan to use this Group to post photos of the event and share other details so please become a Nokia Experts Facebook Fan.
I am not a developer, just an avid user, so I can’t talk from hands-on experience with developing software for mobile platforms, but found this very interesting article that compared several areas of these two Linux-based operating system. It was encouraging to hear that Nokia has kept Maemo fairly open and appears to offer more for the developer. Google Android devices are HOT right now with devices like the Motorola DROID and HTC Hero, but I hope that this type of excitement is generated for the N900 and Maemo. It is a tougher sell in the US where the N900 will cost you $550+, but if T-Mobile can offer this subsidized for half that price then we may see more enthusiasm.
The Nokia N900 is an awesome device that I find myself using more and more as I spend more time with it and I can’t wait for my own personal device to get here in November.
As I said last week, Nokia sued Apple and did so for technology they developed and Apple has not paid to use, like just about everyone else. I saw many people posting that it was Nokia just trying to get a piece of the iPhone pie since they have not been successful in the US market and these statements were simply not true. Engadget actually had some lawyers look into this issue more closely and it looks like Apple owes Nokia some cash and should think about paying before they end up having to pay for all of the Nokia legal fees on top of payments due for using the patented technology.
It never has been about iPhone sales or who is the leading maker of smartphones, but rather Nokia’s right to reimbursement for the millions of dollars they spent developing the technology that others now use.
Regular Nokia Experts readers know I have been rather dissatisfied with my Ovi Store experiences and one of the major issues I had with it was the inability to redownload an app I paid for. I test software, reset devices, and switch devices so I wanted the ability to get content back on my device that I purchased. The Ovi Store did not allow you to download the content after the first time and there is no way to backup that application for archiving. I just read over on the Ovi blog that the ability to redownload apps is available in Ovi Store clients 1.5(387) or higher on S60 devices so now I will revisit and may start using the store again.
I was especially pleased to read this statement, “And regardless of how you shop the Store, we will honor purchases made before this new version, so if you purchased the BlockGO game in August and it didn’t download properly, give it another shot by visiting the My Stuff section of the store.” I will now make sure I have the latest Ovi Store client on my N97 and try to redownload previous purchases. You can check out the video below for more info on this new functionality.
It took me a few minutes to wipe out my N97 and reload my favorite apps, but I am up and running now and am very pleased with the firmware 2.0 update and am thankful I did not sell my N97 a couple months ago when I was thinking I needed to let it go to save up for the N900. One of the slickest pieces of software that Nokia included with this update is Vlingo and I have to admit I never heard of this software before and had it mixed up with Viigo that I have seen before on BlackBerry devices. Vlingo is actually an application that lets you control your Nokia device with your voice, but goes beyond just opening up apps. With Vlingo you can perform the following:
- Search the Internet
- Dial by voice
- Create a note to yourself
- Open applications
- Update your Facebook status
- Send text messages
- Send email
I do see that these last two functions are trials and you can only send 15 text messages or emails before you have to pay a one-time $19.99 fee or $4.99/month fee to use these functions. This upgrade is called Vlingo Plus and is not included with your N97 purchase.
Have any readers tried out this application/service and if so, do you find it to be accurate and worth the $20?
Twitter can be a valuable source of information and just about 30 minutes ago I saw a Tweet come across my eyes that said the Nokia firmware 2.0 update was available. I went to the Software Update utility on my N97, but it only reported an update for Maps 3.1 and Ovi Contacts 1.20 so I fired up my MSI Wind netbook to run the Nokia Software Updater. I discovered the NSU wouldn’t work on my Wind with my new Windows 7 OS so I had to wait until I arrived in the office to fire up my Dell PC and update the firmware on my N97.
I performed a Close All with my Handy Taskman and my N97 showed 38.8MB of RAM available and 4MB on the C: drive. After updating the NSU on my PC, I was shown that my current firmware version is 12.2.024 and that version 20.2.019 was available. The updates highlighted on the update page were improved touch screen scrolling and Ovi Maps 3.1 with 3-D maps. I clicked through the wizard and performed the update without backing up anything. I really don’t care if I have to reinstall software during these major updates since it gives me a chance to clean off my device. The update for me was 142.7MB in size so it took a few minutes to download and install.
I haven’t spent much time with the update yet, but immediately after installing I saw my RAM shown as 48MB and my available C: drive space shown as the same 4MB. I went in and cleared out my browser cache to see if that would increase space on the C: drive, but nothing changed there and I am not sure what is consuming all of that space. All my programs and settings (including standby display setup) were still in place after the update and I do thank Nokia for enabling this update capability. Kinetic scrolling is slick and this firmware looks to be what we wanted a few months ago when the N97 shipped. Stay tuned for more thoughts on the N97 firmware update as my T-Mobile SIM stays in the device for a bit.
Steve posted all the details of the N97 firmware update over on All About Symbian and since I see little change in memory by updating over the top of the existing firmware I am going to take his advice and wipe my device clean and start all over with apps to see if I can make this N97 a more efficient machine. A few features in this update that particularly interest me are:
- The keyboard driver has been enhanced so that a long press on any key brings up its associated ‘function’ symbol (or number)
- Half a dozen new social media and services widgets have been added by default
- Ovi Maps 3.1 is now included (shown below, saving 7MB of your C disk, compared to the current situation)
- More responsive touchscreen driver (so fewer ‘missed taps’) and the usual minor bug fixes across the board
Starting over again with a fresh N97, I show 48MB of free RAM and 49.5MB of free C: drive space. What are you most looking forward to with this update?
If you have been reading my Nokia N900 posts, then you may be wondering how I am getting all of these additional applications on the N900 since the Ovi Store is not yet open for business. If you have used one of the older Maemo Nseries Internet Tablets then you are familiar with using the Application Manager to access repositories. There are various repositories and I some are highly experimental where “normal” users probably shouldn’t be dwelling too much. It seems that Mark over at The Nokia Blog and I are on the same page and he already assembled a great post on Maemo repositories on the N900 so I won’t repeat all that he wrote here with my own post and recommend you head over there to see how to access repositories.
I was very pleased to see that Nokia has integrated an automatic notification system through the Application Manager so that you receive a yellow notification in the upper notification area when updates to applications you installed are present. You then tap the notification and walk through the update wizard to install the program update.
I have added all the repositories I can find with N900 applications and am currently testing out the following 3rd party applications:
- Almost TI Graphing Calculator
- AP News desktop widget
- Bounce Evolution game
- Classic Gaming Wallpapers
- DialCentral (Google Voice application)
- Documents To Go
- Facebook Widget and Photo Uploader
- FMRadio (enables the FM radio hardware installed in the N900)
- Foreca Weather
- gPodder podcatcher
- Maelstrom game (Asteroids clone)
- Maemo WordPy
- Mauku and Mauku widget
- Password Safe
- Personal Photo Frame
- SolarWolf game
- Plugins (Windows Live for IM, Connection Switcher, Evernote Sharing, Load-applet, Simple Brightness applet)
There are many more apps, especially those for the serious geek such as SSH, Telnet, game emulators, and many more. A large number of these are in early development so make sure you take care when loading up a ton of apps. So far, I have yet to experience any issues with apps I have loaded and enjoy checking the list every couple of days to see what these amazing Maemo developers have added. So far, all of these apps are free too.
In between time spent with the Nokia N900, I have been playing a bit with a beta version of Olive Tree Bible Reader for the Nokia N97/S60 5th Edition devices. The folks at Olive Tree Bible Software have now opened up the beta (sis download file) to the public so you can all try it out on your device and give them feedback on the program. Don’t forget you have a few days left to enter my Nokia N97 contest and I see there are some great entries now in my inbox.
In my testing of the application, I find it to easily be the best Bible application running on S60 5th Edition devices and am extremely pleased to see them devoting resources to continued development. This open public beta should get many more beta testers in the pipe providing feedback to make the program even better. I like how all the resources you purchase are accessible from multiple devices and platforms via their online library system where you can download purchased titles to your specific device for offline reading and study.
I know a few of you may be sick of hearing about the Nokia N900, but it is the hottest Nokia device at the moment and I will be writing much more about it this week. I just watched a great video overview of the N900 at Wired and was pleased to see that they understand what the device really is and that is much more than a smartphone. Spend a couple minutes checking out the video and stay tuned for more tips & tricks of the N900.