Latest TouchUI

Swype for Symbian available now on Nokia Beta Labs

I used to be a die hard QWERTY keyboard fan and still find the keyboard on the Nokia E73 Mode to be extremely efficient and effective. However, on larger touchscreen Android devices I have come to embrace Swype and find I am very quick with it. Thus, I was extremely pleased to read over on All About Symbian that Swype is now available from the Nokia Beta Labs site for S60 5th Edition (aka Symbian^1) devices and this means we will most likely also get to use Swype on the Nokia N8. If Swype is on the N8, then any concerns I had for a hardware keyboard and funky text entry are gone.

Swype is a company based here in Seattle and just about every single person I know that has tried it out has embraced it. I plan to install it on the Nokia N97 mini and give it a shot. FYI, one of the best tips I can give for Swype is to slide your finger from the very bottom left corner (where the Swype logo key is) to the right over the Sym key and you will get a directional pad and other cool functions on the keyboard.

Swype for Symbian has been tested on the Nokia 5800, 5230, X6, N97, and N97 mini.

Have any of you tried Swype yet on your Android or S60 5th Edition device?

Nokia announces the 5250, a new Symbian^1 device

Nokia announces the 5250, a new Symbian^1 deviceInteresting that Nokia today announced another new piece of hardware, the Nokia 5250. This is a Symbian^1 (aka S60 5th Edition) device that looks to be a rather low cost device for those who want a touchscreen device. It only supports the EDGE data network and has a 2.8 inch display so it is nothing that anyone here reading Nokia Experts will likely want. However, there are millions of people who only have EDGE connectivity so this may be the perfect device for them.

nokia_5250_blueThe good thing about seeing these types of continuing hardware announcements before Nokia World is that we should hopefully see some major news there. I know we will see the N8, but am hoping to see Nokia reveal their next flagship device (maybe the N9) since so many people still have a bad taste from the N97 that could have been so good.

Anyways, the Nokia 5250 has a 2.8 inch 640×360 display, 2 megapixel camera, microSD card slot, Ovi Music support, FM radio, and more and comes in at €115 in the 4th quarter.

10 benefits of non-touchscreen devices from All About Symbian

10 benefits of non-touchscreen devices from All About SymbianI thoroughly enjoy using my large Sprint HTC EVO 4G 4.3 inch high resolution touchscreen device. Then again, I also enjoy using the T-Mobile Nokia E73 Mode. They both have their strengths and weaknesses and Steve Litchfield over at All About Symbian put together a good post titled, “10 Reasons why Touchscreens Suck“. We still see the Eseries devices coming out with non-touchscreen displays, but every iPhone, Palm webOS, and Google Android device (not to mention the first Windows Phone 7 devices) have touchscreen displays. RIM and Nokia appear to be the only ones still rolling out non-touchscreen devices, but there are several benefits to such devices.

There are plenty of feature phones without touchscreens, but even many of these are launching with full touchscreens too. Maybe the best strategy is to carry one of each, depending on your planned activities for the day :)

Review: Proporta Screen Protector and Sync-Charge Cradle for Nokia N97 mini

I wrote my review of the N97 mini back in early December and still think it is one of the best Nokia smartphones available today. It is a S60 5th Edition device built as stout as an Eseries device. Even though I have been trying out some of the newer smartphones for my ZDNet blog, I do keep the N97 mini close at hand for apps and rock solid performance. Proporta reached out to me to see if I wanted to evaluate a couple of accessories for the N97 mini and they ended up sending along an Advanced Screen Protector and USB Sync-Charge Cradle. Let’s take a look at my thoughts on these two accessories with an image gallery of both following my writing.

Advanced Screen Protector

I switch devices almost as often as fast as I change my underwear and thus the first thing I do with my devices is purchase and install screen protectors on them. This way, my device displays remain in mint condition so they retain their resale value when I decide to switch to another device and so I can throw my device in my pocket without worrying about scratching. I was curious to see how much of the front of the N97 mini the Proporta Advanced Screen Protector would cover since the BodyGuardz I installed on my N97 covered the entire front with openings for the buttons, camera, and proximity sensor. The Proporta protector covers just the display area itself, which is really the most important part to protect.

Inside the slim packaging you will find the screen protector, fiber cleaning cloth, bubble removal/application card, and directions on the inside of the packaging. There are only three steps to installing the Proporta Advanced Screen Protector and unlike some recent skins I have tried there is no liquid used or drying period. You simply peel off the backing with the yellow tab and slowly place the protector on the N97 mini as you then slide the protector on and continue peeling back the covering. I was able to clean the display and install the protector within less than a couple of minutes.

I understand that Proporta uses some kind of adhesive material to secure the protector to the display, but it doesn’t leave any residue or anything and can actually be washed and reused if needed.

I am seeing no impact on the clarity of the display and it actually reduces glare from sunlight and bright indoor lighting a bit too and I prefer it over the glossy finish the device already has. It does give a slightly rougher feel to the display, but nothing that affects the usability of the device. It is supposed to improve the “feel” during stylus use, but I have never used a stylus on the N97 mini so that is not a benefit I personally care about.

The Proporta Advanced Screen Protector sells for just $6.95 and if you are looking for a way to protect your display, then this is a good product to consider.

Ratings (out of 5)

  • Value: 4.5
  • Ease of Use: 5
  • Quality: 5

Overall: 4.5/5

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Pros

  • Offers durable protection
  • Easy to install and reusable
  • Fairly low price

Cons

  • Doesn’t cover the entire N97 mini front

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T-Mobile to get Nokia Nuron with 3G data support

T-Mobile to get Nokia Nuron with 3G data supportBack when the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic was released I wrote that this would be the perfect phone for T-Mobile USA to roll out with since they had a few XpressMusic devices, but could use a higher end one that was still available for a low price. Somebody must have been listening because T-Mobile and Nokia just announced that the Nokia 5230 Nuron is coming to T-Mobile USA with support for T-Mobile’s 3G data network (the real fastest carrier in the US). This is also the first device in the US pre-loaded with the new free Ovi Maps 3.0 software so buyers get a full GPS navigation solution on a fairly large 3.2 inch touch screen display. With a price of only $69.99 with a two-year service agreement, $50 mail-in rebate, and qualifying voice & data plan I think this may be what my oldest daughter needs to get her around town when she starts driving in a few months. BTW, the Nuron looks very similar to a 5800 XM and I will be curious to see what is physically different.

The Nokia Nuron has the following specifications:

  • Quad-band GSM
  • Dual Band HSDPA
  • S60 5th Edition
  • Bluetooth 2.0
  • FM radio
  • Integrated A-GPS receiver
  • 2 megapixel camera
  • 3.2 inch 640×360 nHD touchscreen display
  • microUSB port
  • 3.5mm headset jack
  • microSD card slot
  • BL-5J 1320 mAh standard battery
  • Proximity sensor
  • Accelerometer
  • Dimensions of 4.37 x 2.03 x 0.61 inches and 4.05 ounces

As you can see it is quite a full-featured S60 smartphone with the only low end specs really being the lack of WiFi and the 2 megapixel camera. However, with the Ovi Maps and 5th Edition this can be quite a navigation and media device available at a very good price and looks to be one of the better Nokia phones here in the US. I am personally quite pleased to see a Nokia smartphone finally launch on T-Mobile and will be checking this one out soon.

Olive Tree BibleReader is first Bible on the Ovi Store

Olive Tree BibleReader is first Bible on the Ovi StoreI’ve been using the Ovi Store more and more lately on the Nokia N97 mini and finding it to be much better than when it launched this summer. One application that I have loaded on the N97 mini that I personally find essential is Olive Tree BibleReader for S60 5th Edition. I saw on the Olive Tree blog that you can now find this application in the Ovi Store here. This is the first Bible application on the Ovi Store and IMHO it is the BEST one too.

The BibleReader application is free and there are some free translations and resources for you to enjoy. You can also find the BibleReader KJV with Greek/Hebrew Strong’s definitions available for $14.99. With the free BibleReader application you can purchase different translations and resource from within the application of via the Olive Tree site and have them downloaded to your device through your account. I have a couple of translations that I have purchased and the great thing is that you can use these resources across devices and platforms as they have worked out a user friendly licensing model.

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Olive Tree BibleReader is now available on a whopping 98% of the world’s smartphones, including Symbian, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, iPhone, Android, and Palm. Now we just need to encourage them to get a Maemo client built, right?

Nokia Messaging for Social Networks Beta 2 launches with Twitter support

Nokia Messaging for Social Networks Beta 2 launches with Twitter supportI have been using the Nokia Email client since it was in early beta mode and prefer it over the lame default Nokia client loaded on devices. There has been some branding confusion about the different Nokia Messaging clients, even with someone experienced with Nokia devices like me, and after a conference call last week I finally have it straightened out and understand what is going on. I will make a post soon that tries to make it clear for all of you too and I highly recommend you check out the messaging.nokia.com site where you will clearly see there is Nokia Messaging for Email, Nokia Messaging for IM, and Nokia Messaging for Social Networks. The Nokia Messaging for Social Networks Beta 1 recently came out and just today Beta 2 launched with support for both Facebook and Twitter.

Check out this video from Davis Fields that gives you a nice overview of the updated service and client.

I played with the client a bit this past weekend on the Nokia N97 mini and it is quite good. It won’t replace Gravity for Twitter on my device, but it is good to see an integrated single client that has features meeting a large majority of user’s needs. Also, it is available for FREE.

The Nokia Messaging for Social Networks Beta 2 release support the Nokia N97, N97 mini, and Nokia 5800 devices (all 5th Edition). With the Facebook part of the client you can upload pictures and videos to Facebook, view upcoming events and even have them imported to your calendar (this is a very cool feature), and click to call/SMS/email your Facebook friends. With the Twitter part you can view and reply to Tweets and update your status on Twitter.

I have been busy with Smartphone Round Robin content, but will try to get you a more detailed hands-on with this latest beta client soon.

Nimbuzz adds support for Twitter

Nimbuzz adds support for TwitterI have Nimbuzz loaded on my S60 devices, primarily for the IM support across multiple clients through a single interface. I just read over on All About Symbian that version 2.2 for Symbian adds a Twitter client. The folks at AAS have a couple of screenshots showing this client and I do plan to test it out soon. It will be very tough for anyone to beat Gravity for Twitter usage, but it is good to see competition pushing innovation and some may prefer to have a single application that does it all.

From what I understand, the new Nimbuzz client supports a single Twitter account with Timelines, Direct Messaging, Searches, and Trends and Profiles. The new Nimbuzz client also includes pop-up notifications for the home screen.

Nimbuzz is available for FREE in the Ovi Store.

Evernote beta comes to Nokia S60 5th Edition devices

One application that I have been missing badly on my Nokia devices for years is Evernote and I have actually kept my iPhone and Windows Mobile devices on hand to use the application. I was extremely excited this morning when I read a Tweet from Brettq that he was using Evernote on his N97. I did a quick search on Twitter and found a link to this Evernote forum where you can find the download for this WRT. This is stated as a beta, pre-release, but so far it is working very well for me on the Nokia N97 mini and is pretty full featured.

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In case you are not familiar with Evernote, here is a bit of an introduction. Evernote is used to capture thoughts, ideas, tasks, business cards, plane tickets, meeting notes, websites, and just about anything you want captured, stored, and made searchable in the future. There are desktop clients for Mac and Windows, along with mobile clients for iPhone, Windows Mobile, WebOS, Android, and BlackBerry devices.

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There are free and premium (this is what I pay for) options for Evernote and I imagine that most people can get by just fine with a free account. I think the product is so compelling and useful that I want to support them with my money even if I don’t use all the features of the premium service. The premium services is $45 per year and gives you 500MB of uploads per month, more file upload support, advanced collaboration, and enhanced security. Premium accounts are also free of promotions and ads that may appear on free accounts.

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Before today I have been able to get notes into Evernote by taking photos of business cards, handwritten notes, documents, signs, etc. and emailing them to my special Evernote email address. I could then use the web interface to try to search and view notes, but it definitely was not a clean and simple solution. With Evernote Mobile for the N97 (should work on all S60 5th Edition devices) you can create new text, snapshot (photo), and audio notes and upload files to your Evernote account. The only other client I have seen with File support is Windows Mobile since the iPhone has no directory/file access and is locked down.

With the text note creation you will see fields for a note title, what notebook you want to upload to, any tags you want to assign to the note, and the actual note text field. After taking a photo and recording an audio clip you will then be taken back to a field to enter some text into the snapshot or audio note. There are discard and save buttons at the bottom to upload notes or cancel them if you change your mind. BTW, you can create text notes and snapshot notes offline with this client in case you are out of signal range and want to create a new note.

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The real power of Evernote is in the search technology that will actually recognize text in photos and handwritten notes. You can search with the Evernote for N97 client and your search result will appear in the app highlighted in yellow. IMHO, the search technology is like magic and I think you will agree when you try it out too.

The only thing that bugs me with this current version is that there are lots of connection prompts when you start the app, but I am going to see if changing settings in the Application Manager can minimize some of these. Otherwise, I am ecstatic to see Evernote finally appearing on the world’s most popular smartphone platform.

Review: Nokia N97 mini is better than the original

I purchased the white Nokia N97 in June and have been pretty happy with it overall. The firmware 2.0 update made the N97 better than when it was released and I had planned on keeping it as my S60 5th Edition device for quite a while. We saw the announcement for the N97 mini at Nokia World in September, but I honestly didn’t give it much thought since it seemed to just be a slightly smaller N97 with a smaller capacity integrated flash drive. As I pointed out a couple weeks ago in my first impressions article I actually find the N97 mini to be better than the N97 for my usage. After using the N97 mini for the first week I found it so compelling that I sold my N97 and plan to buy a N97 mini soon. Check out more of my thoughts below and see how I rated the N97 mini.

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BTW, stay tuned for some interesting videos and coverage from the other Smartphone Experts editors who had a chance to use the Nokia N900 and N97 mini. It was great to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for Nokia with these guys and they were all quite impressed with the capabilities of the device, especially given the way many in the US mobile community slam Nokia for their interface and functionality.

In the box

The N97 mini has that same cool black box with embossed N97 mini device on the front like the N97 had. It is very thin and reduces the packaging to just what is needed. Inside the box you will find the N97 mini, BL-4D 1200 mAh battery, AC charger, microUSB to USB cable, wired stereo headset, User Guide, and other pamphlets on the N97 mini. As you will note there is no stylus in the box like we saw with the N97, but I never pulled out the stylus from my N97 box so this is not something that is needed. The device supports TV out, but a cable is not included in the box so I used my other Nokia cables to test this capability out.

Specifications

  • Intel ARM 11 434 MHz processor
  • 3.2 inch 640×360 pixel resolution touchscreen display
  • 5 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics
  • 8GB integrated memory with microSD card slot
  • 802.11 b/g WiFi
  • Bluetooth 2.0
  • A-GPS
  • FM radio
  • 3.5 mm headset jack
  • microUSB port for syncing and charging
  • QWERTY keyboard
  • Proximity sensor
  • Available in Cherry Black, Garnet, and White color schemes.
  • Dimensions of 4.45 x 2.07 x 0.56 inches and 4.87 ounces.

Compared to the Nokia N97, the N97 mini is smaller (4.45 x 2.07 x 0.56 inches compared to 4.61 x 2.18 x 0.63 inches) and lighter (4.87 vs 5.29 ounces). The processors are the same, the cameras are the same, and the

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Nokia N8 Guide



Nokia E73 Mode Guide
Nokia N900 Guide