Video: TheTrainLine.com App for Symbian demoed on Nokia N8. Buy train tickets and check train times with ease!
This app has been available for download from Ovi Store for a few days now and let me tell you that it’s awesome!
It is a really slick useful application for UK train travellers. You can check train times as well as buy train tickets but it goes so much further in making a very smooth and visually appealing interface to interact with. Over checking the browser version, this is leaps and bounds in speed and usability since it’s mobile (thumb input) focused and also uses very little data (no constantly clicking a new page).
We’ve got a video demo below as well as screenshots and more details about this great app!)
Here’s a really good alternative to the awesome SPORTS TRACKER app on Symbian. It’s all accelerometer based so there isn’t a GPS tracking side to it to calculate actual distances/speed (or show you your track path) but it’s good enough for basic monitoring. Isn’t there like a recommended 10,000 step minimum?
It’s free to download from the App Manager:
This app sits on your homescreen (no starter icon in menu), and you can leave it running in the background to calculate:
- Time widget has been running
- Number of steps
- (estimated to your height/weight) calories burned
- (estimated to your height/weight) distance traveled (not using GPS)
- (estimated to your height/weight) average speed
- Steps per day
- Stats all time (Compare the number of steps you’ve covered today with the number of steps you’ve done since using the widget.)
To start the widget, press the play button. It’ll begin recording and you can leave it running in the background whilst you do other things. You can stop the widget to stop recording and press play again later to begin a new session. All sessions get added to “all time”
This is the default view of the widget in the homescreen. You can change the appearance by only showing certain details, i.e. hiding graph/all time etc. See below in settings.
The graph can display other information when you click it other than Steps per day
- Day – Steps/Calories/Distance/Average Speed
- Week – Steps/Calories/Distance/Average Speed
- So the widget can more accurately calculate calories burned
- So the widget can more accurately calculate calorie burned
- WIDGET ASPECT (appearance)
- Current Only
- Total Only
- PAUSE TIME WHEN NOT WALKING
- RESET TOTAL WIDGET COUNTER
The only worry for me is how much this will affect battery life. Will have to see over the next few days. It may help to tick “Pause when not walking” in settings.
Flashlights/Torches – never really around when you need one. Often, it’s too dark to go look for where you’ve put one. Maybe you don’t even have a torch.
With phone screens getting bigger and brighter, some people use their as torches. But they’re not really properly bright enough as torches!
On the bright side, many phones now have LEDs, dual LEDs even and for quite a long time you can use those in your Nokias as torches.
[Update: Be warned, some apps from this catalogue may harm your N900]
As a N900 user, you might be aware that although Ovi isn’t yet officially ready for the N900, you can still get buckets of apps via the app manager.
With the app manager you can download lists of applications from predefined “Application Catalogues”. (If you haven’t already, make sure all preloaded catalogues aren’t set to “disabled”.)
If you’re new to the platform, you might not know that you can add application catalogues to the N900. A great one to try is
“Maemo.org extras testing“.
To create a new catalogue go to:
- App Manager
- Hit settings, i.e. the bar that says “Application manager”
- Click “Application catalogues”
- Click “New”
- Enter in details as shown in screenshots below.
- Catalogue Name: maemo.org extras testing
- Web Address: http://repository.maemo.org/extras-testing
- Distribution: fremantle
- Components: free non-free
You’ll get access to a bunch more apps than what’s available by standard ( – I think I must have tried out at least 20 in an hour), and I think this catalogue gets updated more frequently.
For PR1.2 firmware:
Application manager --> Application catalogs --> New Catalog name: maemo.org Web address: http://repository.maemo.org/extras/ Distribution: fremantle-1.2 Components: free non-free BEFORE PR1.2 firmware
Application manager --> Application catalogs --> New Catalog name: maemo.org Web address: http://repository.maemo.org/extras/ Distribution: fremantle Components: free non-free
[There’s also “Red Pill” mode for some more settings and packages, but if what’s said above is new to you, you most definitely will not need to check that out. It isn’t even intended for majority of developers or power users.]
I’m sure a lot of you have seen Nokia’s N900 talk time test with the talking clock? if not its below.
I thought that I would do my own test as Nokia’s one is only really half a test (it’s assuming that if the battery is showing half left that it will last 2 times the time is has already lasted, which is usually rubbish so I thought I’d use some of my unused free minutes to do a test of my own!
Nokia’s Battery Test
How long does Nokia say the battery will last?
This was really hard to find, Nokia’s specifications don’t seem to include it (only say it has a 1320mAh battery) and even gsmarena.com have just left it blank! but after searching around I found a post on the official Maemo forum which claims the following:
Always online: Up to 2-4 days (TCP/IP connected)
Talk time: Up to 5hrs WCDMA, 9hrs GSM
Active online usage: Up to 1+ day
We’ll soon see if these are even close!
My Battery Test
To make is more about the actual talk time rather than anything else I have set the phone up as follows:
- Internet connection completely switched off
- Any active desktop items disabled (i.e. RSS, weather, Facebook, etc)
- Network signal: 3G
- Called a landline number so I know I am not going to run out of battery on the other end!
- Nothing done on the phone except screenshots every hour or so or when there is a significant change
- Battery Fully charged
- Start test immediately after disconnecting the charger
Ok now the call has started, I kept checking back on the phone to see how long it would last and noticed that after 2 hours (like the Nokia video) the battery level was about half but about reaching the 4 hour mark people where expecting, lets just see!
Ok so as you can see the battery started dropping a bit quicker after 2 hours were up. At about 3 hours and 18 minutes, the “Battery Low” warning showed up for the first time and the level turned red so I knew it was on its last legs!!
It got to 3 hours and 30 minutes in and it was still going but then about 4 to 5 minutes later it switched off!
Note: I realised that I had a system monitor running which drains a lot of battery, so without that it should last a lot longer!
So if I factor in things like me constantly checking the phone to see the battery level, and taking screen shots, I think I could have squeezed about 5 or so more min out of it so I’d say talk time estimate to be about 3 hours and 40 minutes on 3G! (Much lower than the 5 hours I read on the Maemo forum)
If you run on 2G it should be about double this so around 7 hours 30 min to be optimistic! (Much lower than the 9 hours I read on the Maemo forum)
You have to note that in this test it is in best case scenario because if you have things going on in the back, i.e. texts, e-mails, etc the time will drop but at least now you know what you can stretch your N900 battery to!
This video was made a couple of days ago and was initially just to show Mauku running on the N900. It’s a very simple, fast and easy to use twitter application, getting you to your twitter feed and sending out tweets quickly – respond/retweet and check out other people’s posted links.
To get Mauku,
- Go to the App Manager
- Click Downloads
- You’ll find Mauku either from “Internet & Networking” category or from “All”
- Just click “Mauku”, check “I understand and agree” and “continue” (Another great thing about the N900 and Maemo 5 is that it’s so easy to install an application. No deciding whether to install on Memory card, phone or mass memory, or having to accept certificate after certificate…Click install – Done.)
Whilst it’s fantastic that the N900 can load up websites like your computer does (check out N900 with YouTube – just fantastic!), some sites like twitter.com do need a little work around for mobile and the smaller screen.
Mauku is great for getting your tweets out quickly on the go and interacting with your feeds, but it doesn’t offer the same functionality as Nokia’s favourite Twitter app: Gravity. E.g.
- cannot view replies from people you don’t follow
- cannot view direct messsages
- cannot twitter search
- cannot upload photos.
- cannot have drafts
I’d love to see Gravity for the N900 or Perhaps another Twitter App, perhaps an updated Mauku or a new one that offers the same functionality as Mauku.
Whilst we wait, because the N900 does have a powerful browser, it can load web clients for twitter. So it’s just a case of how well the site is optimized to be as simple and intuitive a user experience as possible.
- Mark Guim from The Nokia Blog showed us Hahlo, which looks great on the N900. It’s one of my desktop bookmarks now.
- TwitHive and twitter gadget are a couple more examples.
Do you know a better web client for twitter that’s better than Hahlo?
- One week on with the N900. Although I’ve reviewed and given a first impressions of the N900 in September, that was based on very short weekend usage. Here’s just over a week (received N900 last Wednesday) on what I’ve found so far.
It was only meant to be a short number of things that I loved about the N900 but one thing kept popping up after another. The only thing limiting this to 22 is that I have a lecture to go to right now.
What I love about the Nokia N900
- I love that big ass screen – 800×480
- All your photos look so crisp and beautiful
- Watching videos is stunning!
- Web browsing is phenominal so much detail – minimal or no side scrolling.
- Reading PDFs, documents, powerpoint, so comfortable
- Really responsive for a resistive screen – you don’t need the stylus, it’s nice it’s there though for things like the drawing app as a pen.
- I love that the menus are fast
- Pretty much instant. It really makes a difference not having to wait that half a second for applications view to load. You press, it’s there
- I love that opening applications is fast (except maps which isn’t finished for Maemo5)
- Apps also open up pretty much instantly. No waiting around.
- UI very fluid
- Nice UI transitions
- I love the real kinetic scrolling – consistent, and smart. Kinetic scrolling only appears where scrolling is applicable, and it behaves properly too. Large fast swipes = very quick scrolling.
- I love that the menu background is identical to your desktop.
- Panoramic Desktop – Love the wide array of customization possible
- Can change to have a flowing background or
- Can have different backgrounds
- Widgets Shortcuts to all apps or bookmarks or standalone active widgets which can be placed anywhere on the desktop
- Slick sliding from one desktop to another
- I love that I can layer widgets and shortcuts – no static bar of limited number of shortcuts.
- I love that I can easily turn a website I’m browsing into a bookmark on the desktop
- I love the powerful multitasking
- Can open up all preinstalled apps simultaneously and still be hungry for more.
- I love that switching between tasks is a breeze
- Multitasking is also about the ease of changing from one task to the other, and it’s so simple with the live windows – actual live windows. Not static icons or thumbnails. If you switched from playing a video, you’ll seethe video miniaturized but still playing
- Closing tasks is just as easy. Just single click from multitask view or press “end current task” from “on button”.
- I love the speed of the web browser. With 3G coupled with the default browser it feels like I’m using broadband.
- Setting up connections is easy, and you never ever ever have to tell the N900 to set that connection when opening apps requiring internet
- I love how it just switches to WiFi when it’s available and goes back to cellular data when it’s not available
- If Virgin Media breaks, I don’t have to go digging into settings. I just click to switch connection to “Tmobile internet” and N900 resumes loading webpage using 3/3.5G [depending on coverage] With S60V5, I had to delete my WiFi connection for N97 to ignore the non-working WLAN and then type in passwords and add connection lalter
- I love how accurately N900 renders webpages.
- I can access my University Blackboard, email, library account; a task not possible before because of high security from our IT department allowing only certain approved desktop browsers. Now, when I’m in Uni I don’t have to hunt for a free computer to check if I’ve been given new meetings, confirm change of venues, update my library books to avoid fines – I can do it all sat in the lecture, inconspicuously from the N900
- Twitter, facebook, digg, myriad of blogs, news sites, [I can even blog directly with the N900 and wordpress – no third party apps!) basically the web looks like how it should on the N900 as it does a computer, and also you can interact with it like you do on your desktop (some browsers may seem to render like the desktop but you don’t have the same type of interaction with the webpage)
- I also love that double tapping zooms in to the column width so you don’t have to scroll left and right to read all the text.
- If you still need to zoom text further, there’s the circular gestures or the zoom buttons.
- I love flash for youtube video viewing
- It means other flash interactions work too, like wordpress’s flash uploader
- I love love love that it can play back AVI files .avi/.DivX/.Xvid files without problem! All running smooth without additional software or conversion!
- Just drag and drop your videos/movies and N900 recognizes them.
- Couple the N900 and your videos with the video out cable and a big screen TV and you’ve got yourself a pocketable HDD video player.
- When you exit video player and return, it comes back where you last left off. Great for watching longer clips at brief intervals.
- I love the stereo speakers
- Perfect placement for wider and more obvious channel separation
- Much clearer and louder than on the N97
- Of course you do have 3.5mm jack if you want to listen in private and the included in-ear headphones are surprisingly quite good, comparable in sound to a Sony MDR-EX71, but most likely much better build quality.
- I love the app manager and the easy two click installation of apps
- There’ll be tonnes of apps available for Maemo5 soon and with Qt, much of what’s available in other platforms can reach Maemo5, not just the plethora of already available Linux programmes.
- I love the QWERTY keyboard and on screen QWERTY keyboard option
- The keyboard is great, ample, obvious tactile feedback. I can type blogposts comfortably on it
- On screen keyboard option is nice, let’s you use the N900 closed all the time if you want to.
- I love the keyboard shortcuts
- Copy and paste
- Screen capture
- open xterminal
- searching for contacts (just start typing their name in the keyboard whilst in desktop view)
- I love that screenshot is built in. No third party app necessary.
- There are third party screenshot apps, but it’s much more convenient to just press shift+ctrl+p
- Screenshots go into their own specific “screenshot” folder, but are easily viewable from gallery. Save a website page to email, or a high score in a game – there’s quite a bit of detail in 800×480
- I love the revamped camera UI making it an easier point and shoot
- It opens quickly
- changing between scenes, resolution is so simple.
- Autofocus is super fast
- Camera remembers your last defined settings so you don’t have to go and set all that up if you were taking a break in between shots
- I love the 16:9 photo option
- Although at 3.5MP and not 5MP, My photos look better on the phone and computer as they fill up the whole screen instead of having black bars either side
- I love the higher resolution 848 x 480 videos
- They look great, plus the audio recording is superb
- handles low light quite well
- looks fantastic most sufficient lighting
- I love the autofocus Video
- I’m not limited to one focus point.
- Can enjoy macro videos
- Distant videos
- All the incremental differences in between
- I love gaming on the N900
- There’s only one 3D game at the moment and that’s Bounce Evolution, and it’s absolutely stunning.
- Hopefully this is just the beginning and we’ll see more games as visually absorbing as Bounce Evolution on the N900
- I love how my friends can pick up the N900 without me having to tell them how to use it.
- I love that they just instinctively operate the web browser like on a desktop, not realising that it’s fairly unusual to be interacting with webpages so fluidly on a mobile phone.
- It’s just so easy to demonstrate and show off how good a phone the N900 is. (Found it difficult to impress others with the N97 except for its flick tilt slide that makes it look like a micro netbook)
- Receiving email as soon as someone sends it has become utterly vital since using Nokia Messaging on my N97. Now it’s on the N900. Waiting 5, 10, 30 minutes is no good. Checking manually is even worse. I could have left the house and afterwards received an email saying I didn’t get to send a file that was only on my computer (happened earlier); or had to reply by email within a short time frame to get something asap – there’s infinite scenarios.
- Great email notifier. Even if I am at a computer, that ping tells me to go check my emails (fortunately, gmail filters out all spam so I’m not wasting time viewing it)
24. I love the Notification lights!
- I forgot about these. When the N900’s screen is off, these lights can change colour depending on the situation, e.g. new email/message, it flashes blue or charging – there’s an orangy/yellow intermittent light. Helps to know if screen is off and phone is on silent that I’ve got messages to check or that the charger has actually been plugged in and is working.
- Having coloured functional LED is a neat feature in itself I’ve been missing since my Sony Ericsson T68i and it’s great Nokia’s brought something back that’s even more useful (I remember discussing this over the table with Ricky Cadden/Teo/Rafe Blandford and Nokia managers on features we’d like to see in future Nokia devices in Nokia world 07)
25. Love the full screen calendar!
- It’s also much easier to add tasks, switch month/week/day view
- Hermes pulls in birthdays from facebook
- Can take in calendar entries from S60 via simple bluetooth phone switch
- I need more time to play about with this – I don’t want to get to attached to Maemo5 and N900 as it’s going back and I’d have to return to s60v5’S horrific calendar:'(
My issues with the N900
As I’m new to Maemo5, I’m finding a few of the things I’m getting frustrated with or wishing was there, is actually there (or just needs a touch getting used to). So forgive me if some of these shortcomings I’ve written about aren’t valid (within minutes of publication I’ve already had to scratch one thing off). Plus, most of my issues are with the 3rd party apps (like firefox and voice recorder) themselves not directly anything to do with Maemo5 or the N900.
1. I think there should be an option not to squash the web page to 800 pixels wide (like with previous tablets). If you were browsing a web page that exceeded 800 pixels, the option would allow some size scrolling so the view isn’t bunched up.
2. I dislike the back button. If I mispress a site, I just want to quickly go back not wade through (though a rather beautiful) history of visited sites. Another tip from Tan Miaoqing – Hardware back keys instantly lets you go back. Trying to think up of something else I don’t like so I won’t have to change the title of this post
2. It would be nice if the sending via bluetooth had an animated progress bar (you get a notification bar but there’s no animation to show progress…at least none when I do it)
3. I don’t like how multitasking, menu, desktop all share the same button. I’d rather be able to always switch from desktop to app view and another for multitasking – possibly appearing as an additional button whenever you’ve got more than one window open
4. I dislike the battery life – though to remedy this, I have received some Proporta charging accessories to make the N900 last me a whole day. Check out some posts on that soon.
5. Camera is missing additional settings – colour tones [black and white/sepia/vivid], camera grid, contrast, sequence modes, self timer, sharpness and manual scene
6. I do miss Xenon flash and video light slightly (more to use as a torch – I guess the latter can be sorted with firmware upgrade)
7,I need Nokia Messaging on my N900. The default email client is good, but I miss receiving pushed emails. Update. Nevermind. Thanks to Tan Miaoqing for pointing out there is Nokia Messaging on the N900 ^_^
7. Screen is very responsive, much more so than the N97’s. The whole Maemo5 experience would be improved 10fold were the N900 to have the featherlight touch of capacitive screens.
8. Hate hate hate Ovi Maps on N900 (love it on N97 :S) – though I have been told it’s not finished. It takes too long to start up and I don’t enjoy the interface.
9 How do you access all symbols unless you use on screen keyboard? There’s no button that brings up [square brackets] You have to close the keyboard to bring up the onscreen keyboard ok. I’m learning. Some less obvious keyboard shortcuts but shortcuts none the less, reader Z0l, has pointed out pressing Ctrl and Alt (the Alt is directly under CTRL) brings up symbols (N97 has own single button for this – although those two buttons close enough that its easy to press them simultaneously with a thumb)
9. I’d like to be able to select multiple files/images/videos to send or delete
10. Would be nice to have portrait use of the phone , if at least only to set the phone to call mode.
- I’ve been looking for the turning control everywhere since I got the N900. Another great solution from Z0l in the comments – at least for phone calls.
- Launch phone app, click the bar that says “Phone” to get to the settings, set turning control to on.
- Now, this should be on by default as that’s what I was expecting after seeing the N900 videos. More portrait use possibly in firmware updates to come
11. I don’t like how files aren’t organized uniformly. In photos, oldest photos are the top, in videos, oldest videos are at the bottom.
- In file manager, the newest camera files are at the bottom and you have to scroll all the way down to get there.
- Perhaps either keep one direction of displaying most recent files, but always show the most recent files first (which is the case for both photos/videos viewer app but not the file manager. It gets difficult when you’re trying to upload multiple files online. See point 10.
12. A scrollbar please. Kinetic scrolling is fun, but some things are quicker achieved with one drag on the scroll bar (like uber long lists). I don’t want to be kinetic scroll swiping like I’m trying to light a fire.
13. Would be nice to be able to send video without having to open file first. See point 9 (new one).
Will have more blogposting soon with N900 hands on, taking a look at more features and accessories for the N900 – this week is pretty hectic as I’ve got a few deadlines and an exam to meet by Friday.