After a few months off the grid, I thought it best to offer a short post to show Jay, Andre and the rest of the MNB gang that I’m still around…
With my next upgrade coming up in the first few months of 2011, I’ve been pondering my options for my next handset. I’m keen to stick with a Nokia handset, and was hoping that by the time 18 months had passed after buying my N900 that something that truly excites me would come along. I’ll share some of my thinking with you…
In a world of Nokia that’s waiting for the Nokia N8 (and successors) while competitors continue to innovate and advance, I thought I’d take a rather tongue in cheek look at what might happen with future devices should Nokia as a company merge with some of those competitors.
Note this is not meant to be a serious article, a realistic analysis, nor do I have any inside information about any upcoming takeovers. This is more of an exercise in thinking out loud from someone who doesn’t claim to be an expert on such things…
Announced on the Maemo Talk forums here, fans of Opera’s web browser can grab an updated version for Maemo from the extras-testing (or extras-devel for N8x0 users) repository as of today.
Here’s a copy and paste of the changes detailed in the forum post:
- Geolocation support.
- Fix garbage display after rotation due to incorrect stride.
- Fix monospaced font in UI elements.
- Fix display of Asian fonts in UI elements.
- More efficient socket handling, decreases CPU usage slightly.
- Reduced tearing while panning.
- Fix proxy server mixup.
- Fix crash when reading proxy settings.
- Upgraded Opera Core, including many bugfixes
- Many bugfixes to the UI
And the currently known issues:
- Due to timing issues with different geolocation information providers (WiFi, cell towers, GPS) first request may have poor precision.
- Fast scrolling not optimized for page rendering.
- Adobe Flash and other plugins are not supported.
- Screen tearing may be visible when panning, especially in portrait mode.
- The built-in on-screen keyboard is not supported. Use the physical keyboard or the on screen keyboard included with Opera Mobile.
The improved CPU handling is definitely a move in the right direction, though I’ve not tried it myself yet. I don’t think it’s going to replace the built-in MicroB for me yet, but it’s well on the way. I’m particularly impressed, however, at Opera’s support for a platform where Nokia abandoned them a few years ago (for better or worse).
With the disappearance of Symbian-Guru and World of Nokia in recent months, I’m sure a few readers of the various Nokia blogs out there are wondering who’s going to drop next. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if a few more do go before too long. Nokia have made announcements that excited everyone, and then took a long time to actually deliver results, which invariably let everyone down for one reason or another. The Nokia N96 and the N97 were technically pretty decent phones, but poor implementation and support left most of us feeling a little disappointed while Apple and Google were receiving praise from all corners for the high standards of experiences and innovations their respective mobile offerings brought.
The N900 is perhaps one of the greatest achievements to come out of Nokia – great hardware, a (relatively) stable OS filled with eye candy, functionality and hackability. But Nokia’s support for the device let them down. I was impressed to see massive advertisements in the London Underground for the device, and hoped it would be a sign that Nokia were going to follow through with the device. What we got instead was a series of delayed firmware updates, disappointing third party support (except for community developers – fantastic efforts there, and Nokia at least gets points for enabling them, even if it was just through technologies inherited from previous Maemo devices), and a feeling of abandonment as the device gets left behind on the road to MeeGo.
There’s no denying that Nokia are still the biggest company out there as far as mobile phones go, globally at least. They push out so many low to mid-range phones (including Symbian devices) in Europe and other nations far from the US that in terms of sheer volume, there’s not really any competition. Nokia clearly make a lot of money, and don’t really have a great deal to fear when it comes to competition pushing them out of the market on this scale.
So, how did we get here, and what comes next? Read on for my rants, thoughts and opinions…
One complaint that many have brought against the Nokia N900 is that it largely lives in a landscape world. This is, according to Nokia, entirely by design. However, with the various updates to the firmware and software over the months, Nokia have added in support for portrait use of various bits and pieces. Out of the box, the Phone application worked fine in portrait. Unofficial (and then official) support for the browser followed. PR1.2 brought with it a shortcut (Ctrl+Shift+R, if I recall correctly?) that could allow a lot of other applications to be rotated, though this is forgotten when the software is closed.
Perhaps, however, those that want full portrait mode need look no further. Appearing on extras-devel a short while ago was a very small little package called rotatedaemon. I’ve not done extensive testing of it, so I don’t know if there are any issues with battery life drain, but it does seem to actually work.
A few key points:
- Once installed, there is no need to press any shortcuts. Just rotate the device.
- Applications will rotate through all 4 directions, not just the standard landscape and portrait Nokia offer.
- It’ll try to rotate just about anything – including the desktops, task switcher and app menus. The desktop and task switcher doesn’t seem to cope, though at least some of the menus seem to be fine (for me, with Catorise installed, the top-level didn’t appear correctly, but lower levels were just fine).
- There are no pretty rotating transitions – the rotations are instant.
- It’s only 9k big, so even if it’s not optified and uses up precious rootfs space, it’s not going to make much impact (I didn’t check where it installed).
- There doesn’t seem to be any way to turn it off, short of uninstalling the software.
Perhaps with some instructions and/or tool to configure exactly when and how it works, this might well become the staple for any N900 user trying to fill those small gaps Nokia left in its design, along with things like (for example) MMS support. I for one would quite like to be able to maybe hook the rotation onto something like a double press of the camera button, or some other easily available shortcut, so that it only happened on-demand.
Writing the articles about my history with Nokia was apparently quite well-timed with the announcement of the iPhone 4, where Apple yet again announced a load of new features as being brand-new, game-changing aspects of their new device, despite the fact that Nokia have been pushing out countless gadgets with such things for a while.
Before I go on, I should point out that I’m not anti-Apple. It’s true that I don’t agree with their approach to promoting their products by outright lying about them, and I’m not keen on their attitude within their products of “you must work the way we designed things to work”. However, there’s no denying that the iPhone did open up the market to new types of devices – Nokia tried and failed to get touchscreen into the mainstream more than once, but Apple nailed it. Also, the iPhone OS (iOS now?) user interface is incredibly intuitive and user-friendly and does seem very robust and stable (albeit due to the aforementioned “doing things the Apple way” approach – break out of that by jailbreaking, and that stability breaks down). They’ve really done wonders for the whole mobile market by raising the standards that everyone else aims towards.
Following on from part 1, as a new addition to Jay’s team here, here’s a look at what the second half of the last decade looked like for me, in terms of Nokia devices and the evolution of their specifications.
My upgrade opportunity in 2007 was well-timed for the arrival of the iconic N95. Until this point, Nokia had a habit of picking and choosing features for different handsets, but for the first time they brought together most of their best hardware and functionality into one place. Here’s a look at it in comparison with the N70…