Symbian Swype beta updated

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Nokia Beta Labs have updated the Symbian S60 5th Edition Swype beta version in the last few days.  This is compatible with a range of touch devices:

This new version adds a range of bug fixes:

  • Several crashes have been resolved including those related to backspace
  • Spanish keyboard properly displays national character
  • Performance relating to auto-capitalization, auto-spacing and general application speed has been improved
  • A new language selection dialog has been implemented to improve readibility and UX
  • Rotation no longer reverts Swype back to the default keyboard
  • Application size has been reduced by 1.5mb

As always, head over to Nokia Beta Labs for more information and to register and download the application.


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Canon launch new DSLR & add Eye-Fi support

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Others have already covered the launch of the Canon EOS 60D last week, but one thing that caught my attention was the Eye-Fi support that Canon have added into this camera.  Although not the first Canon to support Eye-Fi, it’s nice to see Canon bringing Eye-Fi support to their DSLR range too.  If you don’t know, Eye-Fi are SD memory cards with additional features such as built in WiFi for automatically uploading photos, and some even have limited GPS support too.  For the WiFi upload to work, the camera must be turned on, and the main function of including Eye-Fi support in the camera’s firmware is that it can keep power to the memory card until the transfer is complete.  The support often also includes the ability to configure some of the details of the Eye-Fi card too (although I wasn’t able to confirm what level of control Canon offer).

So, the Canon EOS 60D takes the Canon EOS 50D and builds on it, adding a number of new features; the main features of the camera are:

  • 18 megapixel self cleaning sensor
  • supports EF and EF-S lenses
  • shoots at up to 5.3fps
  • 63 zone metering with 9 AF points
  • captures 1080p video at up to 30fps
  • the tilt and twist LCD screen of many Canon compact digital cameras is included
  • the built in flash can act as a remote Speedlite trigger

The Eye-Fi support is quite key on this device; previous EOS DSLRs supported Canon’s Wireless File Transmitter, whereas Canon have stated the Canon EOS 60D is not compatible with the previous WFT devices, and no new WFT device is planned, therefore the only self-contained solution available to users is the Eye-Fi option.  In fact, Canon have also announced a number of new PowerShot cameras with Eye-Fi support too, and Nikon’s new D3100 supports Eye-Fi too, so it looks like this is the “must have” new feature for this year…

The Canon EOS 60D will go on sale in the next few months and has a UK retail price of £1099.99 (inc. VAT), although I expect that will quickly drop to a lower level.


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Has your twitter app broken?

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Although it’s been delayed, today Twitter finally switch off the ability to use a username/password combination to access the Twitter API (used by many third party applications to access your twitter account).  Instead, a more secure system called OAuth must be used.  Now, many twitter clients have either moved to OAuth, or offer a choice of methods.

So, from today, the old method will no longer work; if your preferred twitter app has stopped working, first of all, check to see if there is an OAuth option, and if not, you might want to check for a software update to see if that resolves it.

Some apps will simply no longer work; fring have announced that in the short term their twitter addon for the Android version of fring will no longer work.

Of course, with many manufacturers building in twitter (and facebook) support into their phones, and many of those vendors being less helpful in providing any form of firmware update service, it’s possible your mobile phone app will no longer work either.

It’s not all doom and gloom though; when twitter were last planning this, I did a little research, and found that the majority of the mobile phones built in applications seemed to be using OAuth, and hence would not be affected.  Have you been affected? Has your preferred twitter client stopped working, and there’s no update? Let us know via the comments…

Screenshot of Gravity on Symbian courtesy of nokiaaddict.com (now gerrymoth.co.uk), and we should point out that Gravity has supported OAuth for some time, so as long as you are using a fairly up to date copy, you shouldn’t have any problems with Gravity.


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Nokia release new firmwares

Monday, July 5th, 2010

Last week Nokia released 3 key new firmwares.  Firstly, the Nokia E71 (and I suspect the Nokia E66 and Nokia E63, as they seem to share a common base and seem to get updates at the same time) was updated to v500, although at the time of writing, this was not yet available for either the generic EURO1 codes nor the operator branded versions in the UK, but hopefully it will become available over the coming weeks.

v500 contains the following updates:

  • Maps v3.03 Lite which has Free Navigation support
  • Music Player upgrade
  • Quick Office v6.2 which has Office 2007 support
  • Ovi Store upgraded to 1.6.0.18 and Download! Removed
  • Ovi Suite included in Memory card
  • Functionality improvements in E-mail configuration
  • Qwerty keypad improvements
  • Emergency call termination with RSK key corrected
  • Corrected Bluetooth link drop when an outgoing call is made in a carkit
  • Corrected localization issues in world clock
  • Fix provided for selecting desired mailbox when multiple mailboxes are configured

Probably more important is the Nokia N97 firmware update to v22, and the Nokia N97 Mini firmware update to v12.  Given the Nokia N97 is always accused of not having enough memory and space on the internal C: drive, then having to install Ovi Maps (over 10MB) to that area is always a burden. Well, this new firmware at least includes v3.03 Ovi Maps within the firmware, removing the need to have that additional 10MB application install (although we note that v3.04 is now out with the added cell ID and Wi-Fi based positioning, so without using a third party app such as Maps Booster, there is still, ironically, a need to install Ovi Maps in addition to the version in firmware for some of us).

The other new features include:

  • Ovi Maps v3.03 with free Navigation built-in
  • Nokia Messaging stub built-in
  • Default screen brightness raised to 75%
  • Default theme now the jet black ‘Nseries 2’, giving longer battery life than the previous ‘Nseries 3’
  • RAM optimisations
  • Miscellaneous bug fixes, including “Default Nokia tune is played as ringing tone for incoming calls instead of the one user has defined in Profile settings. Also sometimes device has stopped alerting for incoming calls. Both issues are now fixed” which has plagued a good few users.

As with all firmwares, you will need to decide between the impact of applying a new firmware (and the need to wipe the phone and start again with all your contacts, bookmarks, application and settings) against the fixes provided by the new firmware.  As always, expect to wait longer (and potentially forever) for operator branded versions to arrive; for example a 3UK Nokia E71 is still on v300, having never released v400 (or v410) for their devices, so the chance of v500 being released is quite small (it’s not all 3UK; an Orange N97 will still be stuck on v10, as they have never released v11, v20 or v21, let alone the new v22).

Nokia E71 firmware information courtesy of Symbian World, Nokia N97 Firmware information courtesy of All About Symbian.


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Nokia starting to provide application updates

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Android does it (directly on the phone), and iPhone can do it too, but up until now, a Nokia phone could not tell you that there were updates for your installed application available.  Well, it’s starting to happen finally; although not yet directly on the phone through the Ovi Store, but hopefully that will come in time (there’s limited support already, but it needs further work to be properly useful).  Although being able to provide firmware updates is now built into the main Ovi Suite on your PC, Nokia still have the standard Nokia Software Updater, and a new version of this has been released by the Nokia Beta Labs team, which now supports providing application updates too.

It’s also not clear whether this will only provide updates to Nokia / Ovi application on your mobile phone, or all applications installed via Ovi Store, but it’s a start.  The beta is due to run until the end of August, so it’s possible we’ll see (assuming all goes well) some formal announcement on the way forward at the Nokia World event in September.


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HTC Hero firmware update now starting, but not for all

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Last week we mentioned that there was a minor firmware update coming to prepare HTC Hero devices for the Android v2.1 firmware.  Well, that firmware (which was not needed for all UK variants) has been released and now the v2.1 full firmware has started to arrive on European devices, but it appears that, as we predicted, it won’t be arriving for all devices.

HTC have confirmed that in the UK only SIM-free devices will be seeing the firmware in the coming days / weeks (it does take time to roll it out to all devices), with some of the networks apparently not yet approving the firmware for release at all.  The networks who have approved the device should have their branded firmware release starting in the next few days, whereas there is no ETA for the update on the other networks; I would like to suggest which networks this is likely to be, but I’ve received conflicting information from different sources, and hence I’m not confident about which we’ll see, only that I do know we won’t be seeing all network branded versions receive the firmware update this month.

Remember that the delays are caused by the network who either have to make or request changes to the stock firmware and then test both those changes and the overall package on their network; some networks are fast at this process, and some don’t even seem to bother with it at all, so whether your device will ever see the v2.1 firmware is down to the network who supplied the device.

This is the same situation we’ve seen for years with Nokia devices (many other brands don’t release any firmware updates to the public so get away with not having this problem), and as we’ve commented before, the only exception to this is Apple, who force firmware updates onto the networks (and generally prevent operator branding in the first place).


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HTC Hero 2.1 definitely coming soon

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Although it’ll be no surprise that a firmware update was coming to the HTC Hero (we covered it here), and last week the Android v2.1 update started to roll out in Asia, HTC have now confirmed that the Android v2.1 update for the European HTC Hero will start (but not complete) this week.

The firmware update will be a two stage process.  The first stage, a small minor update, should start appearing on HTC Hero devices over the next few days, and will be followed by the main update “towards the end of the month”.  This second update will wipe the phone (so you’ll need to backup your data beforehand) and is sufficiently large that HTC are recommended you use a WiFi / Broadband connection to download the update.

Overall, this is good for the HTC Hero, and will of course allow access to many application which are Android v1.6 or higher, and give access to many of the latest applications of which some even require v2.x, however, what is currently unknown is how quickly the operator specific firmwares will be released.  I would hope to see these be available in a similar timeframe, but as with Symbian branded firmwares, you may see a delay between the HTC release and the update being available for any individual device.


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Kindle update

Monday, June 14th, 2010

The v2.5.2 Kindle International firmware is starting to hit Kindle devices in the UK.  When we reported about the removal of the $2 wireless delivery charge (see here), we mentioned that we had heard about the opening up of the browser to all websites.  Well, it appears that once you get the new v2.5.2 firmware, you should find that web browsing is now open to all websites, as part of also supporting the Facebook and Twitter social networking functions that arrive with v2.5.2.

This is good news, and it’s nice to see the opening up of the Kindle.


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New 3UK MiFi unit

Friday, June 11th, 2010

Here’s the new 3UK MiFi (v2) that was launched last night.  The device features a number of minor updates on the previous unit, and really does address many of the issues and concerns that have been raised against the original unit.  In particular:

  • The device now turns on, powers on all radios, and auto-connects to 3UK, instead of needing 3 button presses.
  • The device now features an OLED screen, with information on data usage (from that session), WiFi status (including number of connected clients), SMS messages.  When the screen turns off, the green power light on the power button still lit for immediate visibility of the fact the device is turned on.
  • The management is now all performed from a web browser interface (the old Windows management tool which only worked when connected via a cable is no more); this means Mac, Linux, iPad / iPhone support is all there and working out the box.  This also now allows access to the microSD card reader from all devices.
  • 3UK / Huawei have improved the battery life of the device, but due to the screen needing more power than 4 lights it has roughly the same usage time, although battery charging has been reduced by around 20%.
  • Also, you can use it whilst charging (as opposed to the old unit), and 3UK have moved from miniUSB to microUSB in line with most (but not all) mobile phone manufacturers.
  • In terms of the new device, it will go on sale on 2 July for the same price as the current unit.  As stocks of the old unit run out, the In Car MiFi and iPod Touch bundles will update to the new unit too.

For existing users of the current device, there are no upgrade plans, although you can simply buy the device on PAYG and move your current SIM across to the new unit. One thing though; 3UK are considering releasing a firmware update for the current device which would enable the 1 button startup (ie basically it turns on the auto-connect feature).  Experiments with this though have indicated this may reduce battery life a little.

Overall, this device has resolved the concerns of the old unit, is styled more in keeping with tech nowadays, and is well worth considering.

Finally, thanks to @3MobileBuzz for arranging the event, and even providing cupcakes…


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Nokia N8 news

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

According to Symbian World, a French Symbian site is claiming that the new Nokia N8 will support the ability to play DivX / XVid movies.  To me, this is either interesting, nothing new, or just plain wrong, and I really can’t decide which.  Nothing appears to have been announced by Nokia, nor by Symbian, which would seem to imply it’s wrong.  However, in the past DivX.com themselves have produced a S60 3rd Edition DivX player, so it’s not unreasonable to assume they may plan, or have developed either for themselves, or for Symbian, a DivX player.  However, anything developed by DivX would be DivX only, and not support xVid.  However, some users who have had access to pre-production Nokia N8 devices have claimed that the device will play DivX files out of the box.  Finally, a local country Nokia representative seems a strange place to announce a major first for a Nokia phone.

However, on balance, I think it’s likely that Nokia will move towards DivX support, it’s simply a question as to whether it will be arriving with the Nokia N8, which, in the shadow of the iPhone 4 launch, will apparently have some impressive video editing facilities returning to the Symbian platform again.  This post on the Nokia Conversations website details the range of photo and video tools that will be available on the Nokia N8.  Looking back, this was previously announced, so I think this article is a reaction to the iPhone 4, as opposed to suddenly announcing new functionality that wasn’t known about before, and that’s the problem with the DivX information; it’s not like Nokia to quietly announce a new feature for a key device, especially so late after launch (and so close to delivery).

Time will tell, but it’s fair to say the Nokia N8 remains a critical device for Nokia over the coming months; it may not be an ultimate flagship device, but it’s important to show that Nokia has learnt the lessons of the Nokia N95, Nokia N96 and Nokia N97 launch firmwares…

Update: It’s look like Nokia have confirmed the Nokia N8 will not support DivX.

July 2010 Update: Well, it looks like Nokia have now confirmed that there will be DivX (but not XVid) support in the Nokia N8 after all…


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