Nokia World: something big from Nokia?

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

We’re a week away from Nokia World, and from what I’m hearing, we might be in for a treat.  First of all, I believe Nokia will launch at least two Windows Phone devices.  This isn’t particularly surprising, given the leaks and snippets of information that have been released accidentally / intentionally from Nokia.

However, what might surprise people is that these devices may well be available within weeks for sale; yes, that’s right; it’s very possible you’ll be able to buy a new Nokia Windows Phone device in time for Christmas!

Also, similar to the new Nokia N9, I believe that at least one of these devices (if not both) will move to the new microSIM format, that (until the Nokia N9 started shipping) was pretty much limited to the Apple iPhone. I’ve already heard one UK network talk about making microSIMs available for not just Apple devices, and the hints I’m hearing are that Nokia is adopting microSIM across a wider range than just the Nokia N9.

I may be wrong, but I think Nokia World will bring a range of surprises, but mainly the start of Nokia’s comeback with the release of Windows Phone devices (which I also suspect may be actually available for developers to check out during the event).


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Nokia Sleeping Screen graduates

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Back in April I mentioned a new Nokia Beta Labs application, Nokia Sleeping Screen. Well, this has now graduated from the beta programme and is now available from within the Nokia Store (as part of many other changes this year, Nokia are removing the Ovi name, so what was the Ovi Store is now the Nokia Store). If you want to try out the new Nokia Sleeping Screen, head here.

As I said back in April, I’d like to see apps like Nokia Sleeping Screen and Nokia Situations being included as standard from within the firmware to allow Nokia Symbian devices to compete with the other smartphone OSes, such as Android. Having said that, with the new Belle firmware due out in the next month or so (*) (which will replace the current Anna firmware for Symbian^3 devices), Nokia will have a good all round package to compete.

(*) Nokia are already making new devices available with Belle, but the upgrade for existing models is not due for a little longer.


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New phone launches

Friday, October 7th, 2011

This week saw the launch of the Apple iPhone 4S. Despite many people not convinced the upgrade from the iPhone 4 was worthwhile, the consensus is that all pre-order sites have been inundated with people pre-ordering the device today.  The deals aren’t bad either; 3UK will sell you the new top of the range 64GB model for £279 upfront with a £35 per month (but 24-month contract) One Plan, offering 2000 minutes, 5000 texts, and All You Can Eat data.

Vodafone (as are all networks to be honest) are also offering the iPhone 4S; their closest deal is £319 upfront with £36 per month (24-month contract) with 600 minutes, “unlimited” texts, and 500MB of data; to rival the 3UK deal you would need to spend much more per month (which would equally reduce the upfront cost, but increase the total cost ).  However, there are always deals to be had; Vodafone seem to be currently offering a £59 cashback on online orders, and will allow unlimited data usage for the first 3 months as part of their new Data test drive promotion.

For those with a desire to upgrade, especially from an iPhone 3GS, this is a tempting offer.  For those looking for a new phone but do not necessarily need an iPhone, there are new releases from Samsung, HTC, and more importantly Nokia due to start shipping in the next few months that may suit you better…


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Nokia release Map Update

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

As soon as I published the story yesterday about Nokia not having released any map updates since the February 2011 update what happens; yes, yesterday Nokia released an update to their Ovi Maps data for v3.06 (S60 v5 devices).  I should add that to the best of my knowledge there is not an update for the v3.04 Ovi Maps client for the S60 v3 devices, such as the Nokia E71.

If you are already running v3.06 then you can simply go into Ovi Maps and select Update and the update will be available for you.  The UK map is about 219MB to download, but you’ll also need a little free space for it to install the update too, so if you are tight on disk space another option is to use Ovi Suite, which downloads the file onto the PC and seems to need slightly less overall disk space to install the update.

Personally, I seem to always end up having trouble with the update working directly on the phone, but have generally found the Ovi Suite method more reliable.  If you do manage to do the update on your phone, it can take some while, so don’t be impatient.

Interestingly, the update is dated 14 July 2011, which is 5 months since the last maps of February 2011; it will be interesting to see how long we have to wait for the next maps…


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New Ovi Maps v3.08 (Beta)

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Keeping with the Maps theme, Nokia have released (through the Nokia Beta Labs programme) another beta update to Ovi Maps.  v3.08 brings a number of new features (over the earlier v3.07 beta):

Drive Enhancements:

  • Live traffic routing takes traffic information into account to avoid traffic jams automatically (available in Germany, France, US, UK and Russia).
  • Turn on “Avoid traffic” in your “Route settings” to take traffic conditions into account while you drive. Always get the best route for right now.
  • New Drive look & feel – home screen now has buttons for “Set destination,” “Drive home” and “Just drive.”
  • “Just drive” or Drive assistance shows your accurate speed, gives speed warnings, the distance driven and real time traffic.
  • New information bar on Drive navigation and Drive assistance screens.
  • Also easily toggle between Estimated Time of Arrival in minutes or distance to your destination – just tap the icon on the screen.
  • New option menus in Drive.
  • Set a contact as a destination.
  • Easily change your settings during Drive navigation. Changes in settings are immediate and can been seen instantly.

Additional improvements

  • Long tap is now available to give quick access to “Drive to,” “Walk to,” “Share” and various lists.
  • Settings reorganized to “General” “Maps & Walk” and “Drive.”

One key point; this is a Symbian^3 only product, so if you are a Symbian S60 5th Edition (aka Symbian^1) user, then you won’t be able to get this update.  We’ve already seen S60 v3 devices limited to v3.04 Ovi Maps, and now S60 v5 device are unlikely to progress beyond v3.06; what’s not so clear is whether and for how long we’ll see map updates for these elder clients.

I believe the latest maps available for v3.04 are from 2010, whereas the maps for v3.06 haven’t been updated since Feb 2011


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Nokia bringing “Anna” updates to older phones

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Nokia started a rollout of new firmwares to a range of S60 v3.2 (3rd Edition FP2) and S60 v5 (Symbian^1) devices yesterday which will bring a range of new features to these phones.

The main update is a new Web Browser, the same as will/is shipping in the Anna update for Symbian^3 phones.  This is much faster than the previous browser, and even in the short time I’ve had access to it, it does seem a much faster and better browser.

Additionally, Ovi Maps has been updated.  For S60 v3.2 devices, the latest version available is v3.04, but that does bring a range of new features such as WiFi and Cell ID positioning to help speed up the initial GPS fix.  For S60 v5 devices, this means v3.06, which also brings the ability to update the maps direct from the device (although the latest maps released by Nokia are still from back in February 2011; it would be nice to see Nokia moving to a quarterly map update schedule).

It should be pointed out that for some of the devices, the Maps update has been available from the Software Update tool built into the phone, and in this scenario, the main firmware update does not seem to include the Maps update.  If you have such a device, you have already got the latest Maps, and the new firmware does not modify that.

Finally, there is support for emoticons within Messages.  If you type characters such as : ) it will automatically turn it into a graphical emoticon.  Otherwise, you can select to insert an emoticon from the keyboard menu.

So, which devices will this be rolling out to?  Nokia have said:

S60 v3.2:

S60 v5:

My understanding is that the Nokia 5230, C6-00, E5, E52 and E72 all started to receive the firmware update from yesterday, with the other devices following over the next few weeks.

If you have a Symbian^1 phone, you can also download the Nokia Evolve theme from the Ovi Store (here), which will give the built in apps the same style of icons as the upcoming Anna update for Symbian^3 devices.

One word of warning though; it seems that this firmware update has a bug on all devices with homescreen widgets which will cause the very useful “Coming Next” widget to break and display an error message.  Nokia are aware of this (basically any attempt to access the Calendar from a Web Runtime Widget returns a blank response), and have indicated it will need a further firmware update for all devices to fix, so if your busy schedule relies upon the “Coming Next” widget, you might want to think long and hard before applying this update.

Overall, I’ve found a combination of the latest Ovi Maps, the latest Anna browser, and the Evolve icons does bring a good refresh to existing Symbian phones, and should extend their life a little further; it’s definitely nice to see Nokia releasing these software updates to elder phones; oh, and if you are a fan of Gravity (the all round best Social Networking client for Symbian) you’ll be glad to know the latest Alpha has an Anna-style application icon to match the rest of the icons.


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Symbian Anna finally coming to existing devices

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

If you own an existing Symbian^3 device (Nokia N8, Nokia E7, Nokia C6-01 etc.) then you might want to keep some time free in August.  The latest major firmware update (now called Anna) has been shipping on the new Nokia E6 and Nokia X7 since release in the last few weeks.  Now Nokia have confirmed it will be available in two phases for the existing devices.  Firstly, if you haven’t yet bought one, those existing devices will start shipping from Nokia with Anna pre-installed from July, but for all existing customers, you’ll need to wait until August when the firmware will be able to be downloaded via the latest Ovi Suite (or direct on the device).

This is good news, although it is a lot later than it should have been.  However, the new styling that Anna brings will breathe some fresh air into those existing devices.

One small ray of hope though; if you have a Nokia N8, Nokia C7 or Nokia E7 from 3UK, and you make a call to another user of one of those devices also where the phone came from 3UK, then you might find your call actually goes via their new HD voice service which will provide much better clarity on the call.  Although currently not available cross-network, 3UK have stated they are hoping to be able to support cross-network HD voice calls soon.


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Nokia announces N9

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Yesterday Nokia announced the new Nokia N9.  In the process, they concentrated on the features and capabilities of the device, without going into a lot of detail of the underlying OS (Harmattan, which is a variant of MeeGo), or the types of apps the device will support (mainly Qt).  However, as a very striking device with no home button (you access the homescreen via a swipe pattern), this has the capability to be a popular device later this year when it’s released.  With Nokia’s recent statement of shortening the time between announcement and release, all I can say for definite is that it will be out this calendar year, which is still a great improvement on previous announcements.

The device has some very good (even if not the absolute highest) specs:

  • 3.9-inch AMOLED screen (854 x 480)
  • 16GB or 64GB of storage, 1GB of RAM
  • Polycarbonate shell that’s coloured all the way through the material
  • 1 Ghz processor
  • Quad band GSM and Penta band WCDMA (3G)
  • Bluetooth 2.1, NFC, and GPS
  • 8 megapixel which can capture 16:9 720p video recording
  • 116.45 x 61.2 x 12.1mm and weighs 135 grams

The introduction of NFC is also interesting; although the hardware may support NFC payments in the future, there is no software support for that right now; in fact, Nokia is rolling out NFC within a range of accessories too allowing you to perform Bluetooth pairing of two devices by placing them close together and NFC will sort out the pairing.  This is a nice use of technology to improve the user experience.

More information on pricing and availability on UK networks later in the year when it’s released.


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Nokia update Reader beta

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Last week, Nokia Beta Labs updated the Nokia Reader application.  This is an RSS Reader, and quite a useful one.  However, the previous beta had a habit of constantly asking you for your Nokia Account username and password, and the latest update fixes this.  Although Nokia Reader is suitable for S60 5th Edition as well as Symbian^3 devices, this particular update only applies to Symbian^3 devices.  If you want to try Nokia Reader, or need this latest update, head off to Nokia Beta Labs and download from there.


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Symbian, Android or the latest iPhone; all available from 3UK!

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Over the last couple of weeks, 3UK have released (or will release) a fair range of new handsets, covering the main smartphone OSes; a couple of weeks ago, they released the Desire S running Android, which although not a great upgrade from the old Desire, is a worthy phone contender for someone looking for a new Android phone.

Yesterday they also announced the Nokia E7 (Symbian^3 with a flip out QWERTY keyboard) was now available, and today they have announced that from tomorrow you’ll be able to buy the long-awaited white Apple iPhone 4 on 3UK.

So, it seems whatever your smartphone OS choice is, you have an option to get one of the latest phones available from 3UK (although less popular, they also have BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7 devices).  As always, head to the 3Store for more details.


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