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…
I think all of us here have borne witness to this, major US/UK blogs and their stance towards Nokia, Symbian and anything smartphone related originating outside of the US, the exceptions being HTC and Samsung for reasons obvious to anyone with eyes. The question is why? Why is it that Nokia get constantly lambasted for doing ANYTHING or mocked for coming to the table too late while the others are constantly praised for doing admittedly mundane things (Facetime anyone?) . This post/rant is intended to look at common criticisms leveled at Nokia and by proxy, Symbian, each of which will be evaluated as best as possible by yours truly. Let’s get started then!
Engadget reports that Nokia will be shipping Dual Core Symbian Devices next year with a revamped UI.
Well, Symbian has always been open about its roadmap. Back in February this year they mentioned this in exact detail (when they were still Symbian Foundation and Symbian^N was still the norm). Now Nokia has taken Symbian development back and Symbian will no longer have ^N nomenclature, just Symbian as we have confirmations that Symbian^3 devices will be getting the much awaited new enhancements meant for Symbian^4.
Today however in a presentation in Beijing, Gunther Kottzieper from Nokia gave some slides incidating Nokia Symbian 2011 focus areas including
- Q1 Symbian update will include over 50 features << new browser, new keyboard, draggable homescreen Read more…
Not a long blog post but more of a notification for all the Symbian and N8 users out there.
Symbian as an OS does something that few if any mobile OS’s out there do. It allows the networking (cellular) stack and applications to run on the same CPU. Ever wondered why your phone lags HARD when downloading emails (if set to headers only) and opening applications? This is it.
Worse still is the fact that current Symbian^3 devices still use ARM11 processors, we have the issues of a rather short processor pipeline and an in-order, single issue execution method. Meaning that the CPU can only handle a very few number of inputs per unit time in addition to the fact that it MUST complete each instruction before moving on to any instruction behind it, does not allow other instructions leap-frog it in the execution pipeline regardless of how long the instruction takes AND is only able to process one set of instructions at a time.
In layman’s terms, your email has to finish downloading before it can render AND you can’t interact with the OS before this happens either. Although S^1 didn’t support ARMv7 architecture well (Cortex A8 etc), S^3 does. Makes you wonder if Nokia made the decision to stick the ARM11 in there and why if they did that, they didn’t go for a dual core approach using an applications core and a networking core a la OMAP or a simply better CPU with a dual issue pipeline like a Cortex A8.
Ah well, if you make your bed, you gotta sleep in it.
Sidenote: Anandtech has a pretty awesome crash course in CPU architecture to help us not so smart people understand the differences between ARM11 and Cortex A8 in addition to CPU architecture and design.
The Nokia Social App
It really feels like a half baked offering when compared to something like gravity:
- Scrolling – why the hell is it so crap? You’ve got smooth scrolling in browser, photos, contacts, apps yet here it’s like I’ve stepped back to the first N97 firmware. Yes it’s still kinetic scrolling somewhat but it’s so painstakingly SLOW and CHOPPY.
- Titleless photouploads: The NEW update allows you to send photos to social places immediately after taking them. But why autosend without a title? On the plus side it compresses a picture and goes up pretty quick which might be OK for facebook (where it goes into a random “Mobile Uploads” folder). For twitter though, you kind of need to caption images most of the time. I wish PixelPipe would be preinstalled and let me upload like I did in N900 (where it also gave you option to compress photos in settings, titles and a million other social places not just facebook or twitter)
- Forgetful sign-in: I thought it was just me until I got replies saying it was happening to other folk too. The app keeps making me log in OVER and OVER and OVER for EACH social network after a few hours. Very annoying when you just maybe want to read some statuses, or just quickly update one. It’s NOT an issue with security as Ovi Store remembers my password and I can easily make purchases without ever typing my password. This is why I go to other apps and even bookmarked twitter sites like tweetgo as that’s just left signed in. Perhaps it’s to prevent the old Frape or “Facebook Rape” (basics are that your status is abused, possibly many other features of your profile but that’s not possible even if you are logged in to social app as it’s very limited.
- Ovi Log in fail. Maybe it’s just me. The initial OVI account log in was also somewhat difficult (required to even let you sign in to twitter/facebook). I already had an account but got convinced mine got deleted when I was allowed to sign in again with THE SAME email address and THE SAME phone number which is now associated with a +1 account I will NEVER use. Shame really as when you do this, if you switch your phone to say another new S^3 device, the phone picks up your account name.
- Missing Features: There’s a few. Main ones for me – Twitter: When clicking a tweet there’s no retweeting, option to DM. Just reply. Facebook: photo tagging.
- Stop re-inventing the wheel with a cube: It’s an absolute shame we do not have an official twitter or facebook app that’s to the grade on other platforms. We have the AWESOME gravity twitter for years folks have wanted Nokia to make their official twitter app (but would @janole have gotten the same room to keep giving us new awesome features?). e.g. Tweetie 2 now twitter for iPhone. Though iPhone has a crapload of great twitter apps. Gravity is really the only decent option. On a side note, Mark Guim from TheNokiaBlog says that “Nokia is looking at partnerships – no more looking to buy or make everything” – Bloomberg (orig article) says something’s coming on 23rd of Nov and Mark asked what Partnerships you’d like to see to which James Whatley commented: How about a parnership with @janole for their social client? YES PLEASE.
- Well, let’s end on a positive. It’s free, the single stream is great if you connect your twitter and facebook friends together so they all get the same statuses – the facebook calendar/events integration with phone calendar is great if you’re a facebook user. It’s kind of OK once you’re signed in and perhaps in a few months time after a truck load of polishing we can all sing social app’s praises.
What about you guys – any issues or improvements you’d like to see with the Social App?
As mentioned before in the press release Jay posted, and has been rumored in the blogosphere for quite a while, it seems that Nokia and the Symbian board have taken a decisive step towards improving the Symbian OS, speeding up time to market, improving developer and OEM relations and at the same time cut out some of the bureaucracy that has held Symbian development up for so long. This move was hinted at when Lee Williams stepped down from the Symbian Foundation as executive director and was replaced by Tim Holbrow (former CFO) with rumors circling that winding down operations would commence imminently. It seems that such a guess was not far off the mark.
I’m certain that a large percentage of people in the blogosphere are now shouting at the top of their voices that Symbian is dead, Nokia is down the toilet and are doomed and that Symbian has no place in the smartphone market (Engadget commenters are truly remarkable no?). But I’d have to respectfully say that they are patently wrong. Below I’ll outline a few of the reasons why this change has happened and what the future may/may not hold for Symbian development in light of current news.
One of the most telling statements concerning Symbian development were the announcements of Sony Ericsson (SE) and Samsung, that they were discontinuing Symbian development and had no plans for the continued support and/or production of Symbian devices. Looking at those two announcements in a vacuum one might be inclined to think that two of the three major OEM supporters and Foundation contributors (not dissing Fujitsu here) had withdrawn from an OS that was seemingly about to fail miserably.
Looking at the situation in context however, yields a starkly different story. Having tracked code package submissions to the Symbian Foundation from the fledgling days of S^2 & S^3, I’d yet to see any significant contributions of code by either company. While that’s not to say they didn’t provide any monetary support, the fact that the entire idea of the foundation was to distribute work amongst large companies with significant resources in the hope of faster iterating the OS than any single company could possibly achieve. Unfortunately for the Symbian Foundation, this was not to be, and Nokia has and will continue to contribute the VAST majority of the code.
Worse still, Android came along whereby OEM’s could get a free ride in essence, contributing little if any code, little if any monetary support while getting an OS that they could basically flash onto the base hardware provided by Qualcomm and run with it. While that’s not to say that this is a “bad” approach, in some ways it leaves the OEM’s at the mercy of Google’s whim and provides no real benefit, in the long term at least, for OEM’s looking to differentiate, grow profits significantly and control their own fates.
Android also had the benefit of provided an app store that integrated directly into the OS in the form of Android Marketplace, something that Symbian had categorically lacked before 2008. When Nokia came out with the Ovi Store in 2009, it became clearer still to all OEM’s involved with Symbian that not only could they not compete with Nokia in terms of hardware costs, reliability and scale, but they also couldn’t compete in terms of value added services to Symbian OS. Worse still, Symbian Horizon, which would have been the go-to application repository for Symbian applications for all OEM’s, failed spectacularly leaving Samsung and SE high and dry with regards to added services, through no fault of the Symbian Foundation of course.
NB. Symbian in it’s base implementation comes without mapping applications and application stores
Having realized that there would be no financial benefit in sticking around, both companies decided to jump ship to an OS where all the work was done for them and they simply needed to toss an OS on some hardware and meet some nebulous requirements concerning the use of Google services and market and they’d be just peachy.
The second most telling statement made was by Nokia where they said that they had no intentions of sticking to the large-scale generational changes to the Symbian platform formerly known as S^3, S^4.x , S^5 etc and that they would be sticking to continuous, smaller scale improvements to what they would call “Symbian” with most recent devices getting the changes initially slated for the generational S^4 release. Furthermore, they publicly stated that Symbian development would give way to Qt development, in essence both dog-fooding and relegation of Symbian C++ to legacy status.
In hindsight, these events in addition to the rapid pace of development of both software and hardware in the mobile sphere has led to the predicament the Foundation has faced, and thusly the decision made in the conference call and board meetings today.
On the bright side of course, SEE2010 begins tomorrow with the MeeGo conference slated for the following week. Here’s to hoping for at least SOME positive news and seeing positive strides being taken in both domains. Keep your browsers pointed here for more news on both Expos in coming days.
Well I tried it and by God does it work wonders. The Engadget homepage that would take an age to load and render and would require me to manually stop the loading in order to even use it half-way properly finished loading in a matter of seconds and scrolled magnificently, regardless of the measly 434Mhz processor. Those of you with N8’s or other Symbian powered devices are urged to try this for yourself to see just how big a difference this minute change can make to the general usability of the browser.
This improved web browser would also have the knock-on effect of improving all WRT based applications and widgets, including the Social and FourSquare apps. Just food for thought.
The current browser on my 5800 gets a Sunspider score of ~130,000 as compared to a Motoral Droid with a score of ~34,000 ms (Higher is worse!) and I from results I’ve seen around the internet, processor speed is nigh on irrelevant in this case.