Nokia Messaging has been a bit of a confusing service in the past, which is why I created the Nokia Messaging reference guide a couple of years ago. I have been disappointed in the current Nokia Email app and lack of full support for Gmail so when I heard today that Synchronica acquired Nokia’s operator-branded messaging business my hopes were raised that some attention would be given to making the experience better.
With this acquisition Synchronica will gain the opportunity to service more than six million active end users just in North America. Approximately 250 employees, externals, and contractors are planned to transfer from Nokia to Synchronica.
The transaction is expected to close by the end of July 2011.
I am a huge fan of mobile software and appreciate all of the hard work that developers put into their applications. I received an email from Paul Hinrichsen regarding a project he has been working on in his spare time for quite a while now. GPS navigation is fantastic on Nokia devices and Paul is working to bring indoor navigation to the platform with his current target being the monstrous Mall of America location in Minnesota. The Mall of America has over hundreds of stores so you can imagine why you need help getting around the place.
I do not live near there so I can’t help Paul test out his application in real-life situations. He is particularly interested in seeing how it works with the Nokia Astound. If there are any Nokia Experts readers in Minnesota or who play to visit the Mall of America, please read below and consider helping give feedback to Paul on his application.
I developed a liking for Flash Lite programming and this has since become my hobby. My particular interest lies with the problems of indoor navigation. I entered an indoor navigation app in the Nokia Calling all Innovators Africa competition in 2009 and came 10th out of 125 entries. This app did not provide turn-by-turn directions along the shortest route but simply static map graphics for a 4-level mall having 320 stores.
I have since developed an indoor navigation app targeted at the Mall of America (4-levels and 520+ stores). The app provides turn-by-turn directions along the shortest route as well as reporting on the distances to walk for each leg of the journey – rather like your motor car gps. I haven’t added voice but this will be the next upgrade to the app. Also – being man-alone I don’t have the expertise to research mobile device tracking in an indoor environment so to locate themselves the user simply enters the name of a store at their location. Glad to see though that Nokia are developing a dynamic tracking system. Hoping to one day hook into their technology.
Having developed this in South Africa I haven’t had the opportunity to test it in the Mall itself – however I have confidence in my construction. I don’t claim it will bring you right to the very door of the store that you are seeking but it will bring you close enough to see the store front. I am DESPERATELY looking for someone to test the app in the Mall. I have contacted the Mall itself but they seem rather closed-minded and are not even interested to look at it since it is a “third party app”. I am not necessarily asking you to test the app as I am certain you are very busy and you are probably nowhere near Bloomington Minnesota.
You can find his application for free in the Ovi Store and if you do get a chance to try it out, please leave a review with feedback on its performance. Here are a couple videos so you can see how it works.
One developer that has been very supportive of the Symbian platform and continues to actively develop and improve its product is Nimbuzz. They just announced version 3.01 and posted the following 9 reasons you should be excited about the update:
- Improved call quality thanks to peer to peer call connectivity.
- More space for your chats for full screen chatting experience.
- Chat bubbles bring an iPhone like chat experience to your (Nokia) Symbian phone.
- Custom wallpapers in the chat screen choose a color or an image from your gallery to display as background for your chats.
- Custom color for the text font in your chat screen
- Call Quality Indicator so you can check the expected call quality before you make a call.
- Free Avatars choose new and exciting avatars for your profile picture from N-World
- Last Seen Online – shows you the last time your friend was seen on Nimbuzz.
- Fast group selection straight from your contact list.
Make sure to read their full blog entry that offers more details for these 9 reasons.
I like the looks of the new chat screen and ability to enlarge the viewable area. I downloaded the update to my Nokia N8 and look forward to testing it out.
One thing about Nokia devices that appeals to me is the way they include the little things that just work to make your life better. For example, the always on standby clock on the Nokia N8, and other new Symbian^3 phones, is awesome. On other phones I am often tapping a button or flipping a switch to see the time and date since I rarely wear a watch and with the clock screensaver (on by default) you get this information with very little impact on battery life.
The one issue I do have with this clock screensaver is that at night when my Nokia N8 is next to my bed the clock can be a bit bright. Nokia provides a fix for this though with the Nokia Sleeping Screen utility available now on the Nokia Beta Labs site. By installing this utility you get nine new clock screensavers to choose from, with color, and the automatic capability that turns it off when your device is covered (such as when in your pocket or a bag). You set the range of time when the screensaver will turn off so you can sleep at night.
After installation you go then go to Settings >> Themes >> Screen saver to choose your clock and set the time period for night clock mode. There is no application icon or anything on your device after you install this utility so you must go to this settings area.
Have you found any other cool utilities or apps in the Nokia Beta Labs that you enjoy?
While Android users have had a similar service for quite sometime now in the form of Chrome to phone, Nokia Beta Labs has now unveiled Nokia Drop to Symbian^3 and S60 5th Edition users. While still in the experimental stages at this point, Nokia Drop allows for pushing links and pictures to you Nokia phone, all from within your web browser on your computer –provided you are using either Firefox or Google Chrome. You will have to of course, install the browser extension and mobile application in order to get things up and running but after that the operations are rather seamless. So much so that you can even install wallpapers through the services. As you do not need any cables or Bluetooth connection, Nokia Drop is built for the testing of Push Notifications on Symbian. You can jump on past the break to see a video of Nokia Drop in action or click on the source link to learn more. [Nokia Beta Labs]
Last month at CES Slacker Radio announced it was coming soon to Symbian devices. I just read a Tweet from the NokiaUS account and saw that Slacker Radio is now available in the Ovi Store. I popped my SIM back into my Nokia N8 and downloaded it immediately. Keep in mind, the initial download to get the software is 1.3 MB so make sure you have a solid connection or are connected via WiFi before downloading.
Keep in mind, Slacker is a service with support for those in the US and Canada so this service is only available for these two countries. I understand many other countries have Spotify so it looks like we finally get a client/service in the US before others
I have been using Slacker Radio on my Android, iOS, and Windows Phone 7 devices for over a year as my primary streaming music client and find it works very well at providing just the right mix for me. I actually have a Slacker sticker on my MacBook Pro since I love the service. The great thing is that favorite stations are synced to your account so you can pick up a different smartphone and listen to your favorites on any device. I like how the client on other platforms lets you cache music for offline listening so you can load up tunes for your next flight and then stream again when you land. This offline caching feature is not yet in this new Symbian client, but we may see it in the future.
This news for Slacker Radio is timed particularly well since Last.fm is going to start charging a monthly fee to stream music.
As stated on the Ovi Store description:
Listen to free personalized radio on your Nokia phone. The award-winning Slacker Radio application gives you access to the entire Slacker music library featuring millions of songs from thousands of artists. Listen to over 130 expert programmed radio stations or create your own custom stations. Learn more about the music you hear by reading the artist bios and album reviews. Slacker Personal Radio is the best way to discover new artists and hear your favorite songs.
Basic or Radio Plus?
The free account you setup with after downloading Slacker Radio gives you full access to Slacker Radio music, but you are limited to 6 song skips per hour, per station, there are some ads, and you get no lyrics. You can upgrade to Radio Plus and pay $3.99/month to have ad free listening, unlimited song skips, complete lyrics, and ABC News Radio. On my N8 this can actually be billed through T-Mobile. I like the service so pay for the Radio Plus upgrade.
UPDATE: OK, I am using it up here in Alaska and when connected via EDGE the music streams flawlessly. However, if I switch to the task manager or another app the music pauses for 1/2 second and then starts back up again. This is going to be real annoying if I am trying to multi-task with Slacker Radio playing. Hopefully this is something they can fix easily enough and soon.
Also, don’t forget my tip that you can Zune Pass music on your N8 and get a taste of what kind of services a Nokia Windows Phone 7 device will provide.
Last week I wrote about the PR 1.1 update for the Nokia N8 and I was disappointed that we didn’t have it in the US. Well folks, you can now check your N8 and you should find it available. The update is just about 6.9 MB and I just finished downloading it on my orange N8. One week after it started to roll out really is not that bad, especially when we look at the history of updates for North American Nokia devices.
The way I checked was to simply go to phone dialer and enter *#0000#. Then tap on the left soft key and check for updates. After downloading you then choose to install now or later. After choosing now your phone will shutdown and then a white display with an updating status bar will appear.
Last year I wrote that the SugarSync cloud storage and sharing service arrived for S60 5th Edition. I was recently sent a note from the SugarSync folks that a version was just released for S60 3rd Edition devices. There are something like 390 million Symbian handsets around the world so there is still a rather large market for apps.
SugarSync gives you 5GB for free with options to upgrade to more storage as well. With SugarSync you can access, manage, and share documents, photos, music, and more stored in the cloud. SugarSync works with Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and BlackBerry devices too so you get a truly cross platform experience.
You can find SugarSync at the Ovi Store for free. I will need to try it out on the Nokia E73 Mode.
My flight from Alaska back to Washington was delayed last night due to a problem with the wing and my first thought went to the Twilight Zone episode where the monster was tearing apart the wing as they flew. I then boarded another plane, fell asleep, and eventually made it home. When I landed I saw all of the Microsoft Nokia news and thought I might really be in a Twilight Zone show or I was still dreaming, but after jumping on Twitter I realized that my ultimate smartphone dream had come true.
I just posted my initial thoughts on the Nokia – Microsoft partnership on my ZDNet site and won’t repeat everything I wrote over there. As you know I am obviously a fan of Nokia smartphones and have been for years. You might also have picked up in my writing here that I am a Windows Phone 7 fan. I am probably one of the very few people in the world that have a love of both platforms and also quite a bit of usage of both under my belt. Needless to say, I am quite ecstatic about the news and think it will result in the best of both resulting in a product that easily competes and in many respects blows away the iOS and Android competition.
There is a great post on the Nokia Conversations site where Steve Ballmer and Stephen Elop provide so strong words to support this partnership, including the following:
Together, we have some of the world’s most admired brands, including Windows, Office, Bing, Xbox Live, NAVTEQ and Nokia. We also have a shared understanding of what it takes to build and sustain a mobile ecosystem, which includes the entire experience from the device to the software to the applications, services and the marketplace.
Today, the battle is moving from one of mobile devices to one of mobile ecosystems, and our strengths here are complementary. Ecosystems thrive when they reach scale, when they are fueled by energy and innovation and when they provide benefits and value to each person or company who participates. This is what we are creating; this is our vision; this is the work we are driving from this day forward.
There are other mobile ecosystems. We will disrupt them.
There will be challenges. We will overcome them.
Success requires speed. We will be swift.
Together, we see the opportunity, and we have the will, the resources and the drive to succeed.
I LOVE everything they are saying here and like the specifically stated they do indeed need to be swift and get something out this year.
I wrote the following points as I see them from a user perspective:
- All cameras in Microsoft’s smartphones have sucked, but Nokia rules the world with Carl Zeiss optics and imaging technology that rivals high end dedicated cameras
- Nokia has the ONLY penta-band smartphones so it doesn’t matter who your GSM carrier is you can get 3G data support (this includes T-Mobile’s special 1700 MHz band)
- Nokia brings hardware with aluminum colored bodies, Gorilla Glass, HDMI out, USB on-the-go, amazing RF reception and call quality, long battery life, and more
- Windows Phone 7 is amazingly fast and responsive while also being unique
- Windows Phone 7 is rock solid stable and after using it since July 2010 I can confirm it is the MOST stable mobile operating system I have ever used
- Windows Phone 7 gaming rocks, Zune is fantastic, multiple Exchange support is solid, Office integration is great, and developers are building apps
- Email on Symbian blows, but on Windows Phone 7 it absolutely rocks and I prefer to use my WP7 smartphone for email handling over even my Outlook desktop client
I know that die hard Nokia fans will likely react negatively to such a deal with Microsoft, but is that due to some kind of unfounded hatred for the Microsoft name? If you try Windows Phone 7 then you may change your mind. I know that Microsoft has stumbled in the past, as has Nokia. However, there are brilliant people at both companies and the potential for amazing success is there and can be realized through this partnership.
Is anyone else excited about this partnership like I am? Stay tuned for MUCH more of my writing here as I will have a platform that I am very excited about along with hardware that I love. We’ll see how it works out with WPCentral, but since there will still be other Windows Phone 7 makers and Nokia will still make non-WP7 devices we might see both sites remain as they are too.
I just posted an article on ZDNet about my thoughts regarding adoption of Windows Phone 7 by Nokia in regards to Zune Marketplace services and as you can read the Windows Phone 7 experience is very broken outside the US. In my opinion, the memo supposedly from Stephen Elop has a very US-based focus which is great for Nokia fans in the US like me, but just doesn’t feel quite right for Nokia.
I now have two Windows Phone 7 devices that I use on T-Mobile, the HTC HD7 and Dell Venue Pro, and I personally find them both to be quite fantastic with Xbox LIVE games, Zune music services and streaming, awesome applications in a Marketplace just getting past 8,000 apps, and a very fun and fresh UI. As I point out though, these services and experiences are NOT what people around the world will see on a Nokia Windows Phone 7 device. If Nokia’s intent with WP7 is to focus these devices on the US and UK, then maybe this strategy will add a few thousand more users. However, Nokia doesn’t have a high end brand association here in the US so they would have to tell the story of both their hardware and the slowly rolling out Windows Phone 7 platform. Going with WP7 is not an easy task and Nokia will have to work just as hard to sell them as they would by putting efforts into MeeGo or Symbian with full Qt support.