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.


Permalink

INQ Announce new Android devices

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

INQ announced they would be moving to Android many months ago now, but we now have pictures of the first of the two devices that they have now formally announced.  The first is the INQ Cloud Touch, which should be available (exclusively at Carphone Warehouse and Best Buy for a limited period) in April 2011, which is a traditional touch based Android phone (see above).  Planned to be available in Black, Red and White, the INQ Cloud Touch has the following spec:

Software:

  • Android Froyo 2.2 platform
  • Built with a modular approach making upgrade to Gingerbread easy
  • Instant Messaging for WLM, G-Talk and Facebook Chat
  • Free push email across major domains, including Microsoft Exchange
  • Info Key to quick access to key handset functions
  • Fast unlock for quick access to key functions
  • Backup and sync, plus firmware upgrades to later software releases

Hardware:

  • Processor: Qualcomm 7227 chipset, 600MHz
  • Triband HSPA (7.2/ 5.76Mbps), Quadband GSM, EDGE + WiFi
  • Size: 3.5” inch HVGA capacitive touchscreen display with extended 10mm touch strip
  • Memory: 4MB with option to add more
  • 5 MP autofocus camera
  • 1300mAh battery
  • WiFi 802.11b/g, Bluetooth, GPS, FM Radio, accelerometer, compass, ambient light and proximity sensors
  • MicroUSB charging, 3.5mm audio jack.
  • Accessories included: 4GB microSD Card, Travel Charger & USB Cable, Stereo Headset, Quick Start Guide

Although not in the name, INQ have continued their long running Social Networking Support and built in some good Facebook integration into the phone; “Facebook comes alive with a homescreen Visual Media Feed for video, pictures, web pages and newsfeed.

There are one-touch links to Facebook Chat, Friends, Messages, Wall and Notifications. Facebook Single Sign On is activated across the phones and people can check in to their favorite shops, restaurants and clubs with Facebook Places, also active on the homescreen. Facebook Events fully integrates with the Google Calendar on both devices.

The phones are the first mobiles to use the Facebook social graph API, making it easy for people to follow updates from the friends they interact with most.”

Also, the phone will come with the Spotify client, with all relevant Spotify features being available to subscribers.

However, the other phone also looks very interesting. The INQ Cloud Q brings together the same software with a touchscreen based Android handset, but it also includes a QWERTY keyboard in the BlackBerry-style widescreen candybar format.  When we had the choice of the INQ Mini or the INQ Chat, many people went for the Chat as it offered all the same facilities, but with the benefit of the QWERTY.  Obviously, the Cloud Q has a different touchscreen to the Cloud Touch, so it’s not as clear which will be more popular, but yet again INQ are introducing a range of less expensive phones with the same facilities as the top end models from other manufacturers.

Photo of INQ Cloud Q courtesy of Mobile Phones Arena.


Permalink

Nokia release Ovi Maps 3.06 updated beta

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Another update to the v3.06 Ovi Maps beta has been released by Nokia Beta Labs, and although it features a few new features, the key one must be that it’s now (finally) possible to download whole countries directly on your phone (although you’ll need a Wi-Fi connection).  However, this isn’t perfect, when I tried it, it kept given a “Map download failed” error after about 187Mb through the 216Mb UK download, which resulted in me having to use the PC after all.  When you first install the v3.06 beta, it will wipe your existing maps, as it needs a v3.06+ specific map data downloaded.  Once you have done this one though, subsequent betas (and hopefully the final released version) will be able to use the maps already downloaded.

Having the facility to download directly on the phone, plus having a “check for map updates” option on the phone itself is very useful, and a good move (and something a lot of people have been asking Nokia for).

The other features of this beta include:

  • New! Download street maps directly to your device! A new feature called “Update” on the main menu which allows you download Street Maps directly (via WiFi) to your phone without a PC! Please note that phones without WiFi (e.g. Nokia 5230) will not work.
  • New! My Position and Search are now integrated (now called Map). When accessed, it will show your last map view
  • New! Back button in Favourites
  • New! Long tap functionality to delete & rename collections & routes
  • New! Pop up for first time use – to inform user to download new map data (when upgrading 3.04 > 3.06 for the first time)
  • New! Improved behaviours of transit lines settings in map toolbox (no more grey out)
  • New! Compass calibration hint
  • New! Refreshed place details information view
  • Pinch to zoom interaction (Only available on Symbian^3 devices)
  • Visually refreshed main menu and icons,
  • New maps with public transport lines (as a new map layer) for subways, trams and trains in 80+ cities around the world. Just click the map toolbox icon and select Transit lines,
  • Improved search experience – find places and addresses around you – or anywhere in the world – fast and easily. Browse places or enter a keyword in the search box. Now with suggestions and “did you mean?” functionality,
  • New place pages with description, reviews, pictures and places nearby. Interact with places in a whole new way – you can check in, contact, navigate, save, rate, share, report or see place on the map,
  • Share a place – send a place to your friends via SMS or Email. The SMS contains the address and a link to the place page with description, ratings, contact, URL and a mini map. The link opens up on the mobile browser (also on non-Nokia devices),
  • Check in – keep your friends up-to-date with where you are and what you’re up to. Check in to places and share it with your friends on Facebook and many more social networks. See places you’ve been to in your check in history,
  • New Drive assistance mode with live traffic flow – after clicking Drive, you’re instantly in drive assistance mode with live traffic flow and more. Once you start moving, get safety camera alerts and speed limit warnings,
  • More folder with many rich content services relevant to your location. Personalise your Ovi Maps by selecting the services you’d like to keep on your main menu for instant access.
  • Traffic flow: In Drive mode, a number of improvements to the traffic flow colour scheme and layout.

(The items marked New! are new in this update; the others were available in earlier v3.06 beta versions)

I like the new facilities, and the way the menus are being rearranged, and this bodes well for the final release.  One word of warning; one of the known issues is that occasionally it will keep the GPS subsystem open (with the eventual battery drain); when I’ve seen this, I’ve found starting Ovi Maps back up and shutting it down again seems to have fixed, but it’s something to watch out for.  I also really like hitting the Drive option and being able to see my location on the map with traffic updates immediately available even without a destination set; this is another key feature for me, as I often want to use my phone’s SatNav simply for traffic without a route calculated.

Although the Share (location) option now supports a whole range of social networking sites, I would still love to see sites such as BrightKite and FourSquare integrated directly into the interface, but hopefully that will come in time.


Permalink

Have you tried TrueCaller; what did you think?

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

I was browsing the Ovi Store the other day, and I came across an app called TrueCaller.  Having investigated a little, it appears the app has a lot of functionality in common with Socially App, in that it can present Social Networking updates when an incoming call comes into your phone (it “only” supports Facebook and LinkedIN, unlike Socially App which also supports Twitter), and it has some similar call blocking options.  However, that’s not the main purpose of TrueCaller.  If the phone number is not known (ie not stored in your local Contacts), it will head off to the Internet to find out more about the number and present it to you.

In many countries, they use publicly available reverse lookup services to tie the number (often supported landlines only) to a name, and that’s quite impressive.  In the UK they are honest enough to admit that there are no such services (preventing by various laws), and hence there is no automatic service they can deploy, so instead they will at least provide you a rough location based on the STD code (again something I’ve seen Socially App do too).

However, they are slowly rolling out updated clients with support for a function called CalledID+ (currently available for Windows Mobile, iPhone, Symbian and Android, with BlackBerry coming soon).  This takes things to another level, and will crowd source the caller ID service, and allows your phone to access TrueCaller’s central database of people’s addressbooks to see if anyone else recognises the phone number.  Although each person has to select to Opt-In to this facility, I wonder how many of the 500,000 TrueCaller users have done so…

This sounds a very powerful and useful system to have, yet equally there are privacy alarm bells going off in my head that make me wonder whether my own phone numbers are already on this system, and I wonder whether that information is 100% accurate.

What do you think? Have you used TrueCaller? Did you share your addressbook with others? How accurate have you found the crowd sourced data in the UK?  Let us know by leaving us a comment…


Permalink

Sony Ericsson LiveView

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

I can’t decide if this is a really cool gadget, or completely misses the point.  The new Sony Ericsson LiveView allows you to connect the device to your mobile phone, and access key functions of the phone without actually using the phone itself.

It comes with a wrist strap, so I guess Sony Ericsson’s plan is for you to wear this instead of a watch, and have the ability to access information on your phone as well as having a clock.  It has a 1.3″ 128×128 pixel OLED screen, 4 touch buttons (on the edges of the screen) and 2 real buttons (power & menu), and supports a wide variety of phone functions:

Music player control Play, pause, next, previous track and volume adjustment. Track title display
Social Networking Services Display Facebook™ updates. Display Twitter™ updates
Messaging Display incoming texts. Display RSS feeds
Calls Show phone number for incoming calls. Mute ringer for incoming phone calls. List of missed calls.
Other Calendar reminders. Find your phone. Display time and date.
Connectivity Bluetooth™ technology. Micro USB connector. Bluetooth™ range approximately 10m
Screen 1,3”colour OLED display, 128×128 pixels
Compatibility Compatible with the Sony Ericsson Xperia™ X10, Sony Ericsson Xperia™ X10 mini and Sony Ericsson Xperia™ X10 mini pro and most other brands on Android 2.0 and above. For updated compability chart see www.sonyericsson.com/liveview
Facts 1)2) Size:3.5 x 3.5×1.1cm. Typical consumer battery usage time: 4 days
Availability and versions Available in selected markets from Q4 2010
Colour
  • Black
Standard kit content
  • Sony Ericsson LiveView™
  • Clip
  • Wristband
  • MicroUSB charger
  • User guide

However, instead of the usual “tied to their proprietary OS” nonsense, it appears this device is designed for Sony Ericsson’s Android phones (and more specifically their X10 Android phones); it also needs Android v2.2 or above, so is currently limited to the X10, X10 Mini and X10 Mini Pro.

Interestingly, Sony Ericsson will release the LiveView Android App, and have already announced the API which would allow other developers to link into the device via your phone (in fact Sony Ericsson has said the application will be able to notify you of other applications that take advantage of the LiveView APIs).  As a starting point, it will be able to control your music, read texts, see incoming calls, and allow you read your latest Facebook and Twitter news.

Don’t have a Sony Ericsson phone? Sony Ericsson have also stated that the device will also be compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S and the HTC Desire, making it even more interesting…

Due in Q4 (so just in time for Christmas), although with no pricing, it’s not yet clear whether this is a must have gadget or not.


Permalink

SociallyApp updated

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Despite being an avid fan of Gravity on Symbian, I also use SociallyApp (a free Twitter / Facebook / LinkedIN / FourSquare client for Symbian) on my phones as it offers access to slightly different functions, and has a couple of advantages.  As such, I was pleasantly surprised to see there was an unannounced v2.05 update available to download from their website (since then, they have announced it).  One key new feature this version brings is a feature within FourSquare; if you move more than 2km from your last recorded position, it offers you the chance to login, and although it lists 3 or 4 obvious choices for login, even if you say yes it still takes you to the standard FourSquare Places page within the client to choose the actual location to checkin.  Although there’s no automatic checkin option, it is a nice feature to remind you to checkin without being too intrusive.

I also note for those who don’t want it (I know I turn off many of the Desktop Alerts as, with more than a handful of followers, it becomes too much to keep a track of), there is an option within the Settings to turn it off.

If you are looking for a free Twitter client, then I find the regular updates to SociallyApp to make it a worthwhile contender to Gravity, although Gravity is still a better all round twitter client (covering functions such as twitter lists which seem missing completely from SociallyApp.  Even with Gravity, it’s worth considering running SociallyApp alongside it (maybe set to not auto update) for features such as copying Facebook photos to the local Contacts addressbook, copying Facebook birthdays into the local calendar, and the ability to display the most recent Social Networking update by the individual when they call (and on some phones the latest version can also provide a full screen picture of the caller, which is a nice touch).

It’s also nice to report it’s well designed to work with both portrait and landscape devices, and can even use the GPS for FourSquare on S60 3rd Edition FP1 (something that Gravity can only do from FP2 onwards).

If you’ve not tried it, then head to m.sociallyapp.com from your phone and download the new version.


Permalink

Is innovation returning to Symbian?

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Some people may argue that innovation never left the Symbian developer space, but let’s be honest, of late it’s been more productive to release new products and services for either an Apple product, or Android, and this still continues to some degree; eg we’ve seen London Cycle Hire applications for Apple and Android, but still nothing for Symbian (although there is a new mobile optimised website at cyclehi.com which should work on desktops and mobiles, and is well worthy of a bookmark).

Let’s also not forget that some developers (such as the Jan Ole Suhr at Mobileways, the author of the excellent Gravity Social Networking client for Symbian) have never left Symbian, and have continued to develop really useful applications for the platform.

However, in the last few weeks, I think we’re starting to see a change; firstly, we have Sym4Square, a FourSquare client developed for the touchscreen phones which has now been formally released (see here for information about the beta).  This isn’t the first app to support FourSquare on Symbian, but is the first dedicated app, and seems a pretty complete app too.

Then, we can’t forget Swype, a very popular third party keyboard for Android phones (which allows you to swipe from key to key, and it tries to work out which word you are selecting), has just gone into beta for selected Symbian^1 (aka S60 5th Edition) devices over at Nokia Beta Labs.  It is key, in my opinion, that apps like this are produced, to show that these features can and will be provided for Symbian too (it’s not clear whether is uses the builtin dictionary, or relies upon it’s own, but it certainly seems to maintain it’s own custom dictionary file, and not use the Symbian custom dictionary, which is a real shame).

Finally, again something we’ve already covered (here), but the first platform with a full Online Shopping application (covering the whole end to end process) from Tesco? Symbian.

With Nokia World a week away, and a fair few hardware rumours already out there, it will be interesting to see if Nokia can return to the forefront over the next year…


Permalink

BlackBerry 9800 Torch coming to 3UK

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Some people are BlackBerry fans, and others aren’t (personally, after using one for 15 months I fall into the latter category), but the new BlackBerry 9800 Torch seems to be trying to turn that round, and offer a solution for everyone.  As well as the traditional QWERTY keyboard (although now provided on a slider), it also features a touchscreen featured on some of the newer BlackBerry devices, and it also has the optical trackpad now common to most new BlackBerry devices too.  Add in the obligatory GPS, WiFi, 3G, 5 megapixel camera and 8GB of memory, and the latest BlackBerry OS6 featuring some inbuilt social networking functions, and it seems to be a nice all round device.

I’ll admit my main problem with BlackBerry devices is the limitations enterprise companies place on the device (normally preventing the installation of applications, which also prevents other things such as themes), but of course if you buy it as an individual, you won’t have that restriction, and will be able to customise the device with the correct apps needed to enjoy the experience.

Even better, despite the device only being launched last week, 3UK have already announced they will be selling the device later this year.


Permalink

Socially updated to support FourSquare

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Socially App, one of the two main players in the Symbian Social Networking client market, has been updated to v1.5 over the weekend, and this new version now adds FourSquare support into the client.  Although I’ve suffered from a couple of minor niggles with this support on one device (although a quick trial with a different device worked fine), it seems to work very well, and the guys behind Socially App seem to update problems quickly.

If you want to try the new version, head to m.sociallyapp.com on your Symbian mobile, although we should also point out that a few weeks back, they launched an Android version too, so Android users can try out this application too (see screenshots below)


Permalink

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.


Permalink