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Modified: 2011-09-07T15:25:05+01:00

 



Nokia Essence in the spotlight

2011-09-07T14:57:06+01:00

When it was announced, the Nokia Essence Bluetooth headset was overshadowed by the buzz surrounding the Symbian Belle devices. However, according to an interview with product manager Karolina Järvensivu over at Nokia Conversations, this unassuming headset warrants further attention. The most remarkable technology in this device is its active noise cancellation, optimised for specific frequencies. Not only is the speech microphone used to remove external noise, but there are microphones inside the earpieces to help reduce the noise of the blood flow inside your ears! Read on for more tidbits. For fans of the Nokia BH-905i, Järvensivu had this to say about the increase in the cancellation effectiveness: We went from 99.0% in the BH-905i  to 99.8%, which means we quadrupled the total isolation.  The BH-905i was the world’s best active noise cancelling Bluetooth headset, and the Essence is even better.  It blows everyone else out of the water. While modern earbuds are good at isolating high and mid-range frequencies, it's the booming bass frequencies that manage to punch through the ear pieces and interfere with one's music listening. Turning up the volume doesn't help either. Therefore, it was explained that the noise cancellation is tuned to this low frequency band to eliminate external noise. Along with this, microphones placed inside the ear buds try to help cancel out the noise caused from the blood flow in your own body. One very cool side effect that audiophiles would value is that we use feed-back active noise cancellation. It means that the microphone that listens to noise is inside your ear, not on the outside like in more traditional active noise cancelling headphones. This means that it eliminates some other types of noise that can be unexpectedly annoying. For instance, with regular in-ears, if you’re in a quiet room, you can hear your own blood flow inside your head. Our noise cancellation eliminates some of that. Also, when you play a powerful bass note, that note will resonate inside your ear canal and make the bass a bit lazy and booming. We eliminate that resonance as well, resulting in a very tight and accurate bass. Because earbuds are so much like earplugs, your own voice can sound rather strange too. The engineers behind the Essence have even tried to fix this by letting the frequencies of a normal human voice in through the external microphone and out through the ear buds. ...[R]egular in-ear headphones isolate noise in typical speech frequencies, when you’re on the phone, you can hear your own voice as it echoes inside your head. It’s called occlusion, and it’s very annoying. With the Essence, we use the speech microphone to feed sound from the outside world back into the headphones – but only a very specific frequency band, that’s within your speaking range, 400Hz to 3400Hz.  So you have a more natural sound – and that’s what we call “natural speech” in the product. Obviously, the frequencies outside this range are still eliminated, so it’s easier to talk in noisy places, too. Click through to Nokia Conversations for the full interview. David Gilson for All About Symbian, 7th September 2011.[...]



AAS Insight #182: Nokia Woof, Cuckoo, Stiletto and Blast

2011-09-06T15:56:00+01:00

In All About Symbian Insight 182, we start with the news of Tero Ojanpera's departure from Nokia and arrival at investment fund Vision+. The team then discuss patents, with mentions for Samsung and Mosaid. In a software round up, Steve talks about 3D World Gaze and Vlingo (voice recognition) going free, Rafe talks Qt SDK updates and David brings us the latest news of NuevaSync. Finally, the team offer some helpful suggestions for the naming of Nokia's new Windows Phone devices.

This podcast was recorded on Monday 5th September 2011.
   

In this podcast we cover:       




Proporta BeachBuoy Waterproof Case

2011-09-06T09:55:00+01:00

It's a problem, to be sure. You're on holiday and you want to take your Nokia N8 or X7 or similar onto the beach. But, rightly, you're utterly paranoid about sand and splashed seawater ruining your expensive smartphone. Or perhaps you like hiking - or canoeing or any other outdoor pursuit that involved water in any quantity. What you need is this, the BeachBuoy Waterproof Case - I have to say that I'm enormously impressed.A small disclosure before I start: Proporta do help out with accessories, prizes and more, on my Phones Show Chat podcast, so I'm inclined to think well of the company. However, I'm objective and I've criticised some of their accessories just as hard as I'm praising this particular one. See the photos below for proof of the product in action! The story so far: I'd been nagging Proporta to send over a review sample of the BeachBuoy for years. Literally. Yet somehow one never turned up. It's possible that this was due to all existing units being 'out' with Proporta staff on the nearby beaches(!), but more likely it was because there was a big product revamp going on. And now it's here, with a "New, Improved" indicator on the BeachBuoy product web page. Apparently, it's made of a new and more durable material - I was genuinely impressed by the build quality. A stitched outer seam holds the transparent layers together, with a tough plastic welded seam all around the business area of the case. The open end (top) is handled through two 'ziplock' style press-seams, held under tension through the simple act of rolling the top up, fold by fold, and then using the strong velcro to hold the folds in place. As shown in the photo above, these basic steps are helpfully listed on the underside of the fold - just to make sure everyone gets the hang of it! Test one was fairly mild. Using my N8 in the BeachBuoy out in the UK summer (so that's pouring rain, as per usual): Surprisingly, touch response wasn't affected much - the wonders of capacitive touch technology? The plastic in use here is well specified, being thin enough for good visibility and easy device operation, while being tough enough to keep sand, dust, water and so on at bay. Proporta claim that the BeachBuoy is waterproof down to 5 metres of pressure and that it's IP57/IP58 approved, so clearly I needed to be a little more extreme. Not having a seaside to try it out at, I opted for dunking my N8 in a bath and basin of water (latter shown below). I held it underwater for a minute, swiping the touchscreen and starting a few apps - something which wouldn't have been possible on ruggedised phones like the Motorola DEFY, since capacitive screens don't work well when wet). I then extracted the BeachBuoy and finally, took out the N8. The device was dry as a bone. Held underwater... Interestingly, I said 'hold' above - the BeachBuoy has enough trapped air inside and there's enough buoyancy in the fold mechanism and materials that even with the weight of your device inside, the accessory should float - meaning that you can take it out on a boat trip and if the BeachBuoy does fall overboard then it'll sit there on the water with your precious smartphone, waiting for retrieval. Not that it should fall in the first place, as eyelets in all four corners with a supplied lanyard cord mean that you can hang it from your neck or rucksack as required. The eyelets are properly finished, as is the cord, with quick release/adjustment catches. Using a smartphone in situ is easier than you might think, even virtual qwerty text input works, though resorting to the T9 virtual keypad on the N8 produced slightly faster results because the target areas were larger. Audio output isn't significantly affected by the layers of plastic, though in the N8's case the flush speaker slot does mean that pressing plastic against this area blocks output, as indeed it would if resting on a sofa or bed. I was interested to test the N8's camera while in the BeachBuoy - it seems that, with the plastic of the case pressed up close to the de[...]



NuevaSync improves multiple calendar support

2011-09-06T05:51:00+01:00

NuevaSync is a paid-for Mail for Exchange service tailored to help all kinds of mobile devices synchronise successfully with Google’s PIM services. We reviewed NuevaSync last year, and found it to be a great help with getting Nokia devices to work painlessly with the Google cloud. NuevaSync has now added support for adding events to multiple Google calendars. Read on to find out how well it works and how to set it up.

In our review of NuevaSync, we saw that multiple Google Calendars were already supported. This multiple calendar support was limited to selecting which calendars would be synchronised with the local Mail for Exchange calendar on the mobile device. That is, it was a ‘many to one’ synchronisation. Furthermore, any events created on your phone could only be added to the default ‘Personal’ calendar on Google.

NuevaSync’s latest feature is to map names of a user’s Google calendars to the location field on the Symbian calendar, prefixed with an ‘@’ symbol. When this feature is enabled, users will find that events on their phone will have tags in their location field, such as ‘@Personal’, ‘@Work’, etc., corresponding to whichever calendars they’re synchronising via NuevaSync.

(image)  (image)

This tagging system works in both directions. Users can create events on their device, and set which Google Calendar the event is for by using a tag. The tags are separated by commas with any real location data already saved there, which means the Location field isn’t made unusable by enabling this feature.

NuevaSync have made it so that users can just type the first letter of a calendar name when creating an event. It will be interpreted correctly during synchronisation and mapped to the correct calendar. Also, users can move events between calendars simply by editing the location tag.

I’ve been testing this over the weekend with my pre-Anna N8 and it has worked as described.

To enable the feature, login to your NuevaSync account and go to the Beta Test Features control panel. From there you’ll find a link to enable this feature.

(image)

This feature is not Nokia specific, so will work on other platforms, including Windows Phone 7.

Let us know what you think in the comments!


David Gilson for All About Symbian, 4th September 2011




Google clarifies ad strategy for publishers and developers

2011-09-05T08:23:51+01:00

A quick heads up to those of you with websites or blogs that use AdMob to target mobile devices - Google will be stopping delivering adverts via AdMob to publishers of mobile websites. It actually makes sense, as AdSense continues to be available for publishers, while AdMob will now be targeted to application developers. It mirrors the move earlier in the year when app developers were told to stop using AdSense and switch to AdMob.

From the Google Mobile Ads post:

The net result of all this is that if you're an app developer, AdMob is your solution for monetizing, measuring, and promoting your mobile apps. If you're a mobile web publisher, AdSense can help you monetize your mobile web content, and you can get started here. (If you're an AdMob advertiser who wants to reach users on WAP mobile devices, AdWords can help you reach hundreds of millions of users across the Google Display Network.

Making the market clear for everyone involved, and putting out a simple message is a smart move on Google's part - with any number of choices to monetise content and apps making it black and white simple for people investigating their options should help boost retention for the Google Ad team.

-- Ewan Spence, Sept 2011.




Nokia Maps for iPhone and Android

2011-09-02T15:48:21+01:00

Now this looks like a fun idea for a Friday - Nokia Maps is now available for various Apple and Android devices. Strictly speaking, it's an HTML5 web app, so any compliant browser should be able to give you the mapping, location and routing data, but this is officially targeted at iOS 4.3 and above, plus Android 2.2 and 2.3 devices.

 (image) (image)  

It's not a replacement for the native Nokia Maps app on your Symbian handset (the Nokia Browser will find itself forwarded to another mobile site, by the way, if you try this), but with geo-location in the Safari and Android browsers, the extensive points of interest database, route planning and ability to store favourites as part of the application, this may appeal to someone. It's free to use, so at the very least worth a bookmark as it sits alongside Google Maps.

 (image) (image)  

I wonder if this is a by-product of the work being carried out for Nokia Maps to run under Windows Phone, or whether the engineers did what engineers always do and simply thought "let's see if this will work..."

No matter, it's useful, it's official (being under Beta Labs) and while it's not Symbian, it bolsters one of the more successful elements in the Symbian ecosystem. So point your Androids, iPhones and iPads to m.maps.nokia.com.

 (image) (image)

-- Ewan Spence, Sept 2011.




Guide to Getting the most out of your Symbian Device

2011-09-02T14:44:23+01:00

We've published our fair share of 'how to' articles here on AAS over the years, wo we can recognise a decent article when we see it. In this case it's the Mobile Tech Bishop's "Guide to Getting the most out of your Symbian Device", quoted below. In this feature he covers, expertly, device maintenance, PIM syncing, media transfer, data security, and much more. And it's all Anna-aware and up to date, with hyperlinks everywhere necessary. Nice job!

From the original article:

I sync contacts using the Sync utility, which utilizes the SymcML protocol, in S^3 devices located in Menu>Settings>Connectivity>Data Transfer. Unfortunately Google seem to have removed the setup instructions from their support site but SYmbian blogger Asri al-Baker put together an easy to follow guide over on his blog. What is nice now is that one sync profile can be automated, so I set mine to sync once a day, typically at midday just to ensure my contacts are always in sync.

Calendar is a little trickier. Google does not support SyncML but there are third party services that can tap into your Google account like Syncme.se (free and paid option) and GooSync (different levels of paid plans). Unfortunately, only one Sync profile can be automated so I found this useless for me. Instead I discovered a lovely service called GoogaSync. I’m using the trial at the moment and I’m so impressed I will cough up the funds to use it. At $14.99 it is steep but I will derive benefit so I’ll gladly put up the money.




Names, numbers, Nokia and its new phones

2011-08-31T16:24:56+01:00

While I don't think for a moment that Nokia would actually crowdsource the name of their upcoming Windows Phone through a random poll site (for a start, can you imagine the legal department working out if they actually had the right to use the winning name?), it's created a nice buzz online, and I could see the marketing department giving time to a few of them.

Of course Nokia has just gone through a "refocusing of the device nomenclature structure", as evidenced by the Nokia 600, 700 and 701 Symbian Belle devices, which have been warmly received by many, including The Next Web, which has taken a look at this issue for Nokia returning to a familiar numerical system, just as Samsung switch to a name and letter system that echoes the E, C and N of the current Symbian line-up.

What's more important to you, an over-arching name like Galaxy, or a clear guide to where a phone fits into the line-up (as you used to get with the Nokia 7600, 9210 and 3650)?




Interviewing Harald Meyer

2011-08-31T13:02:30+01:00

Over at Nokia Conversations, I've been moonlighting in helping create their Appstravaganza series of developer interviews. In this case, chatting to Harald Meyer, of CameraPro and PhoneTorch fame... What makes Harald tick and what development tips does he have for others?

(image)

From the interview:

"Updates are distributed to a group of five to ten beta testers and selected CameraPro users, who continuously send me feedback. But most feedback comes directly from the user community and includes (mostly) small feature requests. All bug reports and feature requests are managed in a simple list, which I try to keep as short as possible. In rare cases (especially in the early days of CameraPro) I also provide individuals with updates with fixes for urgent problems."




AAS Insight #181: Symbian Belle, Nokia 600, 700, 701

2011-08-30T11:47:28+01:00

In All About Symbian Insight 181 we start with an update on the status of the Symbian Anna software update roll out. The main part of the podcast covers the announcement of Symbian Belle (user interface and NFC focused software update) and its likely impact. We also cover the trio of new Symbian Belle devices - the Nokia 600 (loudest Nokia smartphone), Nokia 700 (smallest Nokia smartphone) and the Nokia 701 (brightest screen smartphone).

This podcast was recorded on Friday 26th August 2011.
   

In this podcast we cover:       




AAS Insight #180: Symbian Anna

2011-08-23T12:57:51+01:00

In All About Symbian Insight 180 we start with a discussion of two big pieces of mobile industry news, the planned acquisition of Motorola Mobility by Google and the announcement that HP is to cease production of its WebOS hardware. The second half of the longer-than-usual podcast focuses on Symbian Anna. We talk about what's in the update, the key usability improvements, how to get the update and what impact Symbian Anna will have on the platform, operators and consumers.

This podcast was recorded on Monday 22nd August 2011.
   

In this podcast we cover:       




Anatomy of a camera-phone photo

2011-08-21T11:20:00+01:00

It's all very well me posting the odd snap onto Twitter and occasionally writing a generic 'how to' for All About Symbian. But I thought it might be instructive to take a few photos from my three current Symbian smartphones, taken in the last week, one from each, and put you inside my head, hearing my thought processes as I snapped the shot and looking at any important settings changes or physical setup that were required. At the very least, some of the same ideas might help you when you venture out into the real world, whichever camera-toting smartphone you own.Colour and light There was a spectacular purple flower on the balcony or our holiday flat and I wanted to capture it with the sun shining through the fabulous petals. Hopefully you'll agree that I caught it well, but there were several challenges that I had to overcome.  First of all, I had to be aware of the light and its direction - I wanted the sunlight shining through the petals, not on them. Which meant waiting for the right time of day. And it meant shooting into the sun, normally a no-no, whether you're on a cheap camera phone or an expensive standalone device, as it means 'flare', ugly shafts of light on the final image. The solution was to hold the phone (in this case, the N86) in my right hand, snapping one-handed, while the other hand was held up and to the front of the phone so that the camera glass was in shadow - I had to be careful that the shadow didn't fall on the flower itself and I had to be careful not to get my hand in the shot, but it worked and there was no flare. Finally, I took about six attempts to get the shot, as I fine tuned the shooting distance and focus, the positioning of the shadowing hand etc. This is an important point to get across though - finding that only one shot in 5 really works isn't a problem. In fact, it's an indication that your photography skills are getting better - because it means your standards have risen, i.e. you're no longer satisfied with an image which isn't as good as you can possibly get. Back in the days of 35mm cameras, I'd usually get 2 or 3 really great photos per roll of film - a ratio of 10 to 1 bad to good is quite normal when you're striving to be as good as you can be. Exposure "Daddy, you're all dark" was the prelude to a very common photo problem. In this case, my daughter was photographing me up on the wall at the top of Dunster Castle. Behind me was a seaside vista and bright overcast sky. And, not surprisingly, the auto-exposure algorithms in the phone's (in this case, the E7's) camera averaged light across the whole frame and thus my face (in this case, with my eyes closed, so the photo was rubbish anyway, but....) ended up far too dark. Not quite a silhouette, but well on the way. Happily, I knew exactly what to do. Tapping on the 'more' icon in the Symbian Camera interface, I tapped on 'Exposure' and upped it by a full 'stop'. "Take it again", I instructed and my daughter obliged. Here's the result. As with so many photography problems or tutorials then, it all came down to awareness of light. In this case, I wanted more light to be allowed in across the whole image/frame. There's always a compromise involved, of course (short of doing High Dynamic Range shots - a topic for another day), in this case my face is fine but the background becomes washed out. Still, people are the most obvious primary point of interest in a photo so it was best to optimise for nearby faces etc. A reverse situation is shown below, the sky was filled with an unusual cloud pattern and I wanted to snap it from my vantage point in the pub beer garden(!). In this case, auto-exposure made the sky too light, with the phone trying to bring out some detail in the foreground building. By decreasing the [...]



How Nokia is promoting themselves to Windows Phone developers

2011-08-17T09:28:14+01:00

Barranger Ridler is a Windows Phone 7 developer, and was recently asked to join Nokia for a "getting to know you" style event called #NokiaUnfenced. His blog on Nokia's approach to WP7 is worth reading, answering some of the questions about what Nokia is doing to get developers on board for the new devices and OS widely assumed to be coming before the end of the year. No hardware news, but his thoughts on the Nokia touchstones (camera, build quality and software stability) are good indicators of what could attract developers to Nokia.

And when it was all over?

I really didn’t know why everyone in the Windows Phone community was so excited about the Nokia deal.  After the weekend I completely understand it.  Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that when Sea Ray is release you're going to start seeing landfills full of iPhones and Android devices, but it’s certainly a large step in the right direction for the platform that could sorely use it.  Personally I’ll be picking one of them up as soon as I can get my hands on one.

More on Barranger Ridler's dev blog.




AAS Insight #179: Q2 stats, Nokia in the USA

2011-08-16T11:35:47+01:00

In All About Symbian Insight 179 we start by highlighting Gartner's Q2 smartphone sales statistics, which suggest Nokia's sales performance may have been better than previously thought. We then touch on the theme of Nokia strategy in North America, following reports that Nokia is exiting the Symbian and Series 40 business in the US. In the second half of the podcast Steve has a warning for Apple iSync users, David talks about NestDrop and the team discuss the closure of Ovi Calendar, which leads to a more general PIM and sync discussion. 




Beware of Web Apps in disguise

2011-08-16T08:00:00+01:00

Thanks to Web Runtime Widgets (WRTs) and QtWebKit, presenting web apps as native apps has become a quick and efficient way of publishing to Symbian devices. The same applies on other mobile platforms with their equivalent development tools too. However, when anyone can sell an application in the Ovi Store which encapsulates any website, do we need to become cannier shoppers? Read on for a cautionary tale.The Qt development platform allows developers a lot of flexibility and speed. Part of this has been the use of QtWebKit which embeds a frame into an application displaying content from the world wide web. This can be a way for developers to present a ‘Web App’ (i.e. a program you use via a browser) as a native application. Prior to Qt, developers could, and still, use WRTs to do the same job. In and of itself, this is not an ‘evil’ practice. They can provide quick links and custom icons to commonly used web services, such as Asri Al Baker’s iPhone GMail WRT. Added functionality can be wrapped around web content too, such as found in Pixelpipe’s GmailApps Browser. While researching for applications to review for All About Symbian, I came across two £1.00 applications which appealed to me, Mathematics and Chemistry. Both allow you to enter queries about their respective subjects and they then return lots of valuable information, making them great reference tools. Based on their appearance and need to be constantly online, they were clearly web-based applications. As a cause for further suspicion, neither application had any instructions about query syntax. I began investigating which maths website Mathematics might pulling its data from so I could work out how to use it fully, and share that information in the review.   Mathematics giving chemical information and Chemistry solving equations! As I searched, the obvious source presented itself as Wolfram Alpha. Sure enough, Wolfram Alpha worked with the same syntax I’d used in Mathematics, and both presented the exact same content. Given that Wolfram Alpha will attempt to answer questions on any topic, I entered “H2O” into Mathematics, and was presented with the exact same answer as the Chemistry application had given, and it was exactly the same as given by Wolfram Alpha.   Left: Wolfram Alpha, Right: Mathematics.Both giving the same information, but the former is a free website, while the latter is a paid application. At this point one could forgive the publisher for not making these applications free if there was no other way to use Wolfram Alpha on Symbian devices. However, not only is there already a free (ad supported) Wolfram Alpha Mobile WRT, but there is a mobile website provided by Wolfram Alpha. All you have to do is visit m.wolframalpha.com with your browser of choice! Rather, the publisher created two separate applications, asking money for both, while knowing they were essentially the same product. Of course, this is just one example; and you should obviously avoid buying Mathematics and Chemistry. It’s difficult to say how many more examples like this are to be found on the Ovi Store, as it’s something of a needle in a haystack. However, another trend I have seen are the ‘DIY’ RSS based applications being sold on the Ovi Store. (It’s worth mentioning that our All About Symbian RSS app is, of course, available for free). Ultimately, it’s your money and your decision on what you think each title is worth. However, this cautionary note is here to remind you to look around, because there is often a free alternative, whether it be native application or something you can access via your[...]



Worldwide Q2 2011 stats out from Gartner, Symbian marketshare 22%

2011-08-11T07:43:13+01:00

Gartner has released a summary of its worldwide analysis for the mobile industry for Q2 2011 and it, as expected, shows that the in-demand Android smartphones have leapfrogged Symbian in the rankings. I've quoted the main tables below, but in summary, Symbian OS's marketshare worldwide is now 22%, with 23.8 million smartphones being sold.Gartner reports Nokia's Symbian smartphone sales as 22.4 million (Symbian's total is 23.8 million, including Japan sales), which means it remains the number one smartphone manufacturer. Gartner's number contrasts with Nokia's own Q2 sales numbers of 16.7 million - a difference of 7.1 million devices. The difference is due to Gartner counting sell through (i.e. direct sales to consumers) rather than sales (i.e. sales to operators and retailers). Operators and other retailers have been de-stocking Nokia devices in anticipation of new Windows Phone-based devices and this was further exacerbated by over-stocking (channel stuffing) in some markets in Q1.  Nokia Smartphone sales with Gartner Q2 2011 'sell-through' number From Gartner's press release: "Worldwide sales of mobile devices to end users totaled 428.7 million units in the second quarter of 2011, a 16.5 percent increase from the second quarter of 2010, according to Gartner, Inc. (see Table 1). The channel built up stock at the end of the first quarter of 2011 in preparation of possible component shortages following the Japanese earthquake. As a result, sell-in demand slowed in the second quarter of 2011 to 421.1 million units, a 4.4 percent decrease from the previous quarter. Sales of smartphones were up 74 percent year-on-year and accounted for 25 percent of overall sales in the second quarter of 2011, up from 17 percent in the second quarter of 2010. Smartphone sales continued to rise at the expense of feature phones,” said Roberta Cozza, principal research analyst at Gartner. “Consumers in mature markets are choosing entry-level and midrange Android smartphones over feature phones, partly due to carriers’ and manufacturers’ promotions." However, replacement sales in Western Europe showed signs of fatigue as smartphone sales declined quarter-on-quarter." Worldwide Mobile Device Sales to End Users by Vendor in 2Q11 (Thousands of Units) Vendor 2Q11  Units 2Q11 Market Share (%) 2Q10  Units 2Q10 Market Share (%) Nokia 97,869.3 22.8 111,473.7 30.3 Samsung 69,827.6 16.3 65,328.2 17.8 LG 24,420.8 5.7 29,366.7 8.0 Apple 19,628.8 4.6 8,743.0 2.4 ZTE 13,070.2 3.0 6,730.6 1.8 Research In Motion 12,652.3 3.0 11,628.8 3.2 HTC 11,016.1 2.6 5,908.8 1.6 Motorola 10,221.4 2.4 9,109.4 2.5 Huawei Device 9,026.1 2.1 5,276.4 1.4 Sony Ericsson 7,266.5 1.7 11,008.5 3.0 Others 153,662.1 35.8 103,412.6 28.1 Total 428,661.2 100.0 367,986.7 100.0 So Nokia remains number one and sold almost 100 million phones during the quarter, but it's a significant drop from a year ago, despite the ever-growing mobile market, which is edging ever closer to selling half a billion phones each quarter. Amazing numbers, really. Turning attention to smartphones, i.e. (in our case) Symbian, this was the first full quarter of sales after Nokia announced its decision to give Symbian an End-of-Life date and its intention to transition to Windows Phone and, combined with the onslaught of ever-cheaper Android smartphones, the figures reflect an unsurprising dramatic dip, compared to stats from a year ago: Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Operating System in 2Q[...]



NestDrop, an alternative to Nokia Drop?

2011-08-09T11:28:51+01:00

You may remember the announcement of Nokia Drop earlier this year, for pushing content from a desktop browser to your Symbian phone. A similar project, NestDrop, has appeared with similar aspirations. NestDrop is a web based service, in which you use a bookmarklet to save URLs or text notes to your NestDrop account. The phone end of the service lacks notifications, instead saved items are displayed via a web page. The page is accessed via browser bookmarks or a Web RunTime (WRT) widget. The latter can be downloaded from the developer's website. Read on for more details.

src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/gxEw-UgVSc4" width="640" height="390" frameborder="0">

By visiting the NestDrop homepage, you can add the bookmarklet to your desktop browser. The first time you use the bookmarklet, you need to go through a very simple registration process (just supply your desired username and password). If you want to use NestDrop to save a quote from a page, you simply need to highlight the desired text, and click the bookmarklet (just like many other cloud note services).

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Viewing NestDrop content on the phone is achieved by visiting http://nestdrop.eve-c.org/beta/ in the phone browser. However a WRT widget is available too (install via this link).

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Obviously, there are no notifications with this system, unlike Nokia Drop. Then again, if you've saved a page, you presumably don't need notifying about it! Clearly though, the project needs further development. Currently, it appears that users are unable to delete items from their NestDrop account. I also found that the NestDrop WRT widget would not remember my login details, leaving me to re-authenticate every time I used it.

If you've tried this service, let us know what you think in the comments!

 

David Gilson for All About Symbian, 9th August 2011.




AAS Insight #178: Nokia 500, naming scheme

2011-08-08T11:00:00+01:00

In All About Symbian Insight 178 the main focus is on the Nokia 500. We cover the device's key specifications and positioning, but also look at the underlying hardware family and consider the implications of the 1GHz processor. We also briefly discuss Nokia's new naming scheme. To top and tail the podcast Ewan summarises part two of his monetising app series and David describes using a Symbian phone as a remote control for SemperXBMC.

This podcast was recorded on Friday 5th August 2011.
   

In this podcast we cover:       




Apple remove iSync from latest OS X, Nokia syncers beware

2011-08-05T14:36:41+01:00

Mac owners who enjoy bullet-proof syncing from iCal and Address Book with their Nokia/Symbian smartphone(s) should note that upgrading to the latest (and new) OS X Lion operating system will yield at least one unpleasant surprise: Apple has removed all trace of iSync, the phone-sync application that has had wide manufacturer compatibility. Happily there's a workaround.

Apple's thinking is presumably that they'd like to keep direct syncing with their OS for their own own iPhones, but the lack of iSync will prove a bit deterrent to those Mac owners on Leopard (OS X 10.5) and Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6) who were thinking of upgrading to Lion (OS X 10.7) - iSync has been the singlemost reliable sync solution I've ever used for my Nokia and Symbian smartphones.

Perhaps happily, there's an unofficial workaround. Apparently, if you have a Time Machine (or similar) backup, you can copy the iSync v3.1.2 application from a Snow Leopard backup to the 'Applications' folder in Lion and use it just as you used to - in other words, treating iSync like just another application, even though it's not part of the OS anymore.

Me? I'd heard negatives about Lion, with the change of UI scrolling protocols and some app incompatibilities, but the lack of iSync is the last straw and I for one won't be upgrading from Snow Leopard anytime soon.

Hopefully Apple can release iSync as an official OS X add-on/download.

Steve Litchfield




Carefree photos mean never having to wipe your phone's camera glass

2011-08-04T21:22:48+01:00

I've recently got rather fed up with a part of modern smartphone life: every time I want to take a decent photo on any device, it's out with a clean tissue (or a corner of my t-shirt!), I breathe on the camera 'glass' (it's not really glass) and then wipe gently away, removing the inevitable finger smudges, face grease and dust. After all, not doing so means a blurry photo (and with sunlight flares, if the sun's out). But what's the alternative?It's all part of the drive to thinner and thinner devices, of course. Nokia will tell you that the lack of a mechanical camera glass protector in the N8 was also because it also wants to make sure that 'augmented reality' applications can be up and running with camera images without any tedious merry go round with manually opening a shutter. But it's keeping the device thinness down that's the real reason. And indeed if you look across the wider smartphone world, I can't think of ANY 2010 or 2011 devices, running ANY OS and HOWEVER highly rated their camera modules are supposed to be, which have protection for their camera glass (actually, almost always a toughened, optically-enhanced plastic). It's true that some devices have the camera glass more 'recessed' than others and that this keeps the worst dirt away, but you'll still end up with dust in the way of your photos. In the Nokia and Symbian world we have (from the Symbian^3/Anna range) the N8 (minimal recessing), the E7 (no recessing), the C7 (minimal recessing), the C6-01 (ditto), the E6 (no recessing) and the X7 (ditto). Looking further back in time we have (from the S60 5th Edition range) the N97 mini, the 5800, the X6, the 5530, the C6-00 and others, all with very exposed camera glass.  Oh yes, and the ill-fated N97 (classic), with an attempt at a proper mechanical protection system for its camera glass. I say 'attempt' because early production models had an annoying tolerances fault that resulted in the protection mechanism actually damaging the glass it was supposed to protect. Just one example of the N97 shooting itself in the foot - but that's another editorial rant for another day! And the Sony Ericsson Satio, combining both proper camera protection with a rather good 12 megapixel camera and Xenon flash. The Satio didn't sell that well because of Sony Ericsson's clunky UI additions to the already clunky S60 5th Edition code, but hey, at least your photos weren't blurred by grease on the lens... But let's look back further. I recently highlighted the rather numerous virtues of the Nokia N86, the last in the great 'N95' line of devices, which has a superb sliding camera glass protective shutter. But in fact this device isn't alone. The N85, the underspecified prototype for the N86, also has a camera protector. As does its candybar sister smartphone, the N79. The Samsung G810, which sold in its millions hundreds due to being horrifically chunky and actually not that good, had a heavyweight protection mechanism that was second to none. Then there's Nokia's famous two S60 3rd Edition FP1 imaging flagships (for their time), the N95 (classic) and N82, both of which had great mechanical protective sliders. Going back even further, we have the N93, which had a clip-on plastic cover for its camera barrel - which then got lost a few weeks after purchase, I suspect. And then the N73 and others with much of the back of the phone sliding down to reveal the camera glass.       In the great litany of Symbian phones, then, a fairly small number of devices with any kind of protection for their vulne[...]