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Posts Tagged ‘Rant’

Dual Core Symbian Phones with revamped UI and “True Zoom” for 2011 (and Nokia E7 release )

December 14, 2010 74 comments

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…

Nokia’s Smartphone Strategy in the right direction? – Intellectual exchange between Robert Scoble and Tomi Ahonen

December 14, 2010 25 comments

If you’re not familiar with the name Tomi Ahonen then you should be. Calling Tomi simply one of the best mobile industry analysts would not do him justice and is one of the rare few to see the light at the frequently mentioned “doomed” Nokia tunnel.

In this still major transition stage at Espoo, it is difficult to see for anyone with out heaps of patience for Nokia to see where they’re going. For a company so passionate in connecting people, they are possibly the worst at communicating their strengths and strategies with the public. The latter I can only fathom is Nokia’s over secrecy.

Today, Tomi Ahonen wrote an epic piece of what could deservedly be several chapters in one of his books, which I had planned on summarising. Basically, Tomi reckons Nokia has the best strategy migrating dumbphones to smartphones and why they need to stick with Symbian and MeeGo. He goes on to dispel the misconceptions about Nokia, and the portrayal of this “dying and loosing” behemoth that’s outperforming its adjacent competitors COMBINED.

Everyone loves to see the top guy knocked off their perch. It’s always awesome to read the next “Nokia is doomed article, Nokia should go Android…blah blah blah”. Any time there’s negative news on Nokia it’s a celebration. Some even going as far as to skew poll results (i.e. Android “overtaking” Symbian in Asia where CHINA and INDIA and several other countries are not included. I don’t even want to begin pointing out where that’s just wrong).

Anyway, you can read this for yourself – bear in mind it is quite long and there’s a little more to this story than this first link.

Read more…

Categories: Nokia Tags: ,

Rant: The Nokia Social App – Please stay signed in! (And a bunch of other annoyances)

November 14, 2010 14 comments

Before I begin my coursework I’ll let off some steam and rant about the social app.

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.

btw – These RANTS are not simply to bash Nokia but are little nudges in hope for improvement because we know Nokia can certainly do better.

What about you guys – any issues or improvements you’d like to see with the Social App?

Rant: Fixing Nokia’s Symbian Touch Camera UI – Perfecting the Nokia N8 Camera experience

November 13, 2010 10 comments

The Nokia N8 undeniably has the best phone camera on the market. It also has a pedigree of great flexibility in terms of camera options  – white balance, colour tone, camera grids, scene modes, ISO, exposure, contrast, and sharpness (note lack of continuous shooting mode as seen in the likes of the N95).

However, like a common theme in Symbian – so much GREAT features buried in ridiculous menus.What’s worse is that much of my camera UI woes was SOLVED with MAEMO 5 (as well as a nice feature in N900 of always remembering last used setting), yet for some unfathomable reason Symbian gets a camera UI that only Dr. Robert Langdon would be pleased to use.

Check out this post and video:

Video: Nokia N900 Camera Interface – why it’s better than what’s on the N97

On the plus side, Symbian has improved somewhat from the S60 5th version.

  • We have a single video/camera button switch where the touch-screen shutter-button used to be, and
  • said shutter-button has now moved to the bottom middle (i.e. no need to press options>video mode – who ever thought this was a good idea in the first place needs their head examining).
  • Also really cool is that multitouch pinch in/out to change photo/video resolution.

One of my many complaints with S60 5th version and now also with S^3 is that there is sooo much screen realty that’s wasted. You have a huge screen yet Nokia insists on keeping the buttons on one side, with what I feel a very stupid space hungry zoom bar on the left which is very redundant given the dedicated zoom buttons.

For those who like taking photos single handed portrait like it’s 2004 you can. Just hold the N8 in portrait and press that touch-shutter button. Similarly, this doesn’t really affect single handed landscape use.

So All together:

Symbian Camera UI Problems:

  • Too many button clicks. Either due to being buried under menus or because I still need double tap in certain areas.
  • settings/options buried under menus (e.g. there’s a completely different set of settings if you click the big options. Things such as geo-tagging – what if I only want a select photos to be geotagged. I have to keep wading through menus)
  • Screen area wasted
  • Camera forgets your last used settings (yes I’m aware of user defined profile but that’s not as convenient).

Note: These are very quick paint jobs, I didn’t bother making it look pretty, but you should get the gist of what I’m trying to portray.

Note 2: I understand that there are differences between certain Symbian Touch cameras, i.e. autofocus not available, certain settings like Sport not available but that should stop generally improving the interface to be less of a hassle to use.

SOLUTION 1

Why not, for goodness sake, place an added row of icons to the left? It’s not a new train of thought, other camera phones have sported this.

  • Note in the image below we have rearranged the right column of icons to include scene mode and photos. (Not camera UI thing, but it would be nice if somehow the camera could automatically recognize the need for macro mode)
  • On the right are commonly used settings including white balance, colour tone and the camera grid.
  • This makes it easier to use the camera with two hands as now the left can do something other than attempt to use the zoom bar.
  • With more icons on show, you can get to most of your required settings in TWO/2 taps. Not 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 or 6.
  • The spanner “options/settings/cam menu” button persists in this situation to get at the other icons that aren’t immediately visible
  • The icons on the left can auto hide to give more an unobstructed viewfinder, which returns once touched.
  • What if you can SWYPE around the camera options, i.e. if I press “flash” I don’t have to lift my finger off the screen, just drag to “Red Eye” or whatever.

Another important change I’d like to see is for that dang list in scene mode to disappear.

Why the heck would you have scrollable scene modes when you can fit everything in one screen? It is incredibly annoying to scroll down a list when you don’t need to.

Also – PLEASE, if I tap ONCE select and let me take a photo. I don’t want to have to double tap (lilke current method) and then have to press back to get rid of the camera menu.

SOLUTION 2: Icon scrolling

  • Here you can scroll up and down the left coloumn to see the rest of the other camera settings.
  • This might be a touch confusing but you can imagine it like a dedicated digital camera’s dial. Perhaps there could be a dial interface (with said graphical appearance).

Solution 3: Icon slide

  • Here the camera “settings/options” spanner has been replaced by the self timer. These are generally the most used icons I’d say for the camera.

To get at the rest of the icons just swipe/slide the left column of icons to the right. Something could be done to make this more visually appealing, but as said, is just to demonstrate a concept.If the Maemo folks can do it, I don’t see why the Symbian guys can’t. Then again having said that, look at the browser fiasco.

Are you happy with the N8 Camera UI? What would you change about it?

Categories: Nokia, Nseries, Symbian, Video Tags: , , , ,

RANT: 5 Reasons MSNBC tech writer is clueless about Nokia. Refutation to 5 Reasons Nokia’s N8 Won’t Beat the iPhone 4

September 26, 2010 122 comments

IMAGE i think by tnkgrl

I was in the middle of my PBL Case research of Familial Hypercholesterolaemia when I saw this post on MSNBC

5 Reasons Nokia’s N8 Won’t Beat the iPhone 4

It’s not meant to. The Nokia N8 is just a starting foot in the door. Look at the darn price, dammit! And beating in what way exactly? The N8 is a mid-High range phone at a really great price point. When Nokia produce a high end, you’ll know about it. It’s called N8+1. or N9. And it runs MeeGo.

1. Weak processor. Nokia claims the N8 has a “lightning-fast processor” and is capable of rendering graphics and playing videos and games “smoother and faster” than previous Nokia smartphones.

Technically, Nokia is right, because its last smartphone, the N97, ran on a 434MHz processor, while the N8 runs at 680MHz. However, to call the N8’s processor “lightning-fast” is a misnomer. The iPhone 4, HTC’s Evo 4G, Motorola’s Droid 2, and Samsung’s Galaxy S all run on a more powerful 1GHz processor. Comparing the N8 processor to these models is like comparing an Oldsmobile to a Lamborghini.

How many times must we repeat it that it’s NOT just about the processor? The N8 has a class leading broadcom GPU which takes a load OFF the processor.

This is about as ignorant and STUPID as comparing MEGAPIXELS on a camera. A shitty £50 14mp camera is nothing compared to maybe your old 5MP DSLR.

I can’t deny that iPhone 4 is nippy. But the reasoning behind this point is utterly clueless.

In Benchmark tests does the N8 GPU not beat iPad? Pushing More triangles than iPad?

How come you can point out that this is faster than previous smartphones only works because previous Nokia smartphones was low but still marvel at the “New” and “Magical” features that are positively ancient to every other smartphone except the beloved iPhone?

2. Low memory. For a top-end smartphone, the N8 has a low memory capacity. The device has only 256MB of SDRAM, while its high-end rivals boast twice as much. If you run too many applications at once, the N8 will quickly succumb to the pressure.

Yes. Because they have obviously USED the N8 and seen it choke whilst doing REAL multitasking. Again with the numbers.

The N900 has 256MB RAM. To compare iPhone 4 multitasking with N900 would be utterly blasphemous. Like N900, N8 also uses virtual RAM (though to what extent I’m not sure of) But what is sure is that again, it’s not all about numbers. Symbian, like Maemo was designed with multitasking in mind. Not as an afterthought.

3. Symbian OS. Although Symbian OS is N8’s strength, it is also its biggest weakness.

According to Gartner, even though Symbian OS will have controlled 40.1% of the smartphone market in 2010, it will witness a sharp drop to 30.2% by 2014. The only OS expected to gain ground over the period is Google‘s Android platform, whose market share will surge from 17.7% in 2010 to 29.6% in 2014. But even Research In Motion, Apple, and Microsoft are expected to lose less OS share than Nokia will.

According to CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood, Nokia’s new smartphones were “critical” in the fight to grab market share, but the Symbian software, despite refinements aimed at making it easier for developers to write apps for the phones, was “not positioned to challenge the iPhone.”

“Nobody doubts Nokia’s credentials. It has the market share but has lost the mindshare,” Wood said. “Nokia, along with all the other mobile manufacturers, has been wrongfooted by Apple and Google, and it will be a tough road to recovery.”

There’s nothing to set Symbian apart from its competition, and that’s contributing to its sharp decline. Symbian devices are also unable to update beyond the core system software with which they shipped. Updates are an essential part of how smartphones work — not only to offer bug fixes, but also to introduce new features and develop brand equity and loyal users. Android, BlackBerry OS, and Apple’s iOS all offer upgrade paths beyond core system updates. For instance, users of the two-year-old 3G iPhone can upgrade their device from iOS 2.0 to iOS 4.1. Likewise, anyone who got a Motorola Droid last year can switch from Android 2.0 to Android 2.2. But Nokia has historically not supported a commercial upgrade path for older Symbian-based devices.

Since the N95, Nokia has not made a significant change to Symbian. S^1 was simply S60 3rd slapped on Touch. The previous handsets were pretty dud. Now Nokia has S^3 which is partnered with better hardware. C6-01, C7 and E7 all have the same CPU+GPU as the N8. And they’re all priced way cheaper than iPhone 4.

Nokia has managed to maintain and grow smartphone market share without releasing S^3.  What more with these new devices and a slew of S^4, S^5, S^6 not to mention MeeGo for US penetration? With Qt, the app ecosystem will grow to cover cross platform compatibility, negating fragmentation.

Symbian has offered new features in firmware upgrades – admittedly not as big as a whole OS upgrade. As for 2 year old iPhone 3G wanting iOS 4.0 Have you seen how they lock up? Have you seen the complaints of users wanting to roll back because that hardware is not meant for that hungry OS? Sure it’s nice to have the option. It would be great for Nokia to allow S^3 handsets to have S^4 and beyond. Perhaps, Nokia, give them a stark warning that they’re phone running well on S^3 will brick upon S^4 and leave it at their decision.

Plus, a lot of these “NEW” features and upgrade paths, they come as standard on Nokia Symbian phones. You know, like a whole upgrade for WALLPAPER, MULTITASKING, FOLDERS, VIDEO CALLING. I think I hear 2005 calling.

Symbian as an OS is great. The UI has not been so. But both are improving, the latter significantly, and more so with S^4 and the major change in UI and overall UX.

4. Internal battery. Like the iPhone, the N8’s battery is sealed inside the unit. Nokia has recommended that N8 users not try replacing the battery. “It can easily be replaced at a Nokia service center,” the company said in a blog post.

So, how is this a reason against the N8 for not being able to beat the iPhone when they have an identical feature of a non easily removable battery? Could they not think of a valid reason not even to back up this statement? And in bold, “INTERNAL BATTERY” as opposed to what? Every phone has an internal battery. Or is iPhone 4 actually powered by your jobsian lust for magical revolutionary overly expensive chunks of plastic and metal?

This non-removable battery has not apparently affected those iPhone 2G, 3G, 3Gs and 4 customers. But of course, now it’s in a Nokia that’s completely bad. Never mind that iPhone 4 still has non removable battery. I still don’t understand how this is supposed to be a reason for the iPhone against the N8.

5. Price. The N8 will cost $549 in the United States. Meanwhile, you can get a 32GB iPhone 4 for $299 by signing a two-year contract with AT&T. Other top-end smartphones — including the BlackBerry Torch 9800, Droid 2, Evo 4G, and Samsung Galaxy S — are available at subsidized prices between $149 and $249 when you sign with a provider.

Not surprisingly, some observers believe that Nokia’s insistence on selling its devices unsubsidized and without operator input represents an arrogance on the company’s part that has become its pitfall.

Are you shitting me? Price is a reason AGAINST the Nokia N8? This is the most value for money phone to date. Do you think Nokia WANT to sell their phones only through unlocked, unsubsidized channels? And do you also think that the N8 is going to be sold ONLY in the US where of course, perhaps in the world meant for this article is the only thing that exists in this universe. The N8 will be sold through ALL UK carriers, Vodafone alone has over 33 contract plans, with the FREE Nokia N8 for 25GBP. That’s FREE. You know, you pay nothing. Free seems to be 299 dollars cheaper.

It is rumoured that N8 maybe coming to AT&t though perhaps that is instead the C6-01.  Who knows if the other S^3 devices will be met by other NAM carriers. They are PENTABAND handsets.

Conclusion
The N8 is no iPhone killer. It may also have a hard time competing with other leading smartphones. But analysts suggest that the N8 represents a good start from a company that’s always struggled in the high-margin smartphone segment and could herald the start of a good fight toward smartphone leadership.

REPEAT. It was never meant to be. But we needed a provocative title, right? Tick, good job there.

A company that’s always struggled in the high-margin smartphone segment? ALWAYS? Oh, you mean since the days when smartphones began, as in when iPhone began? Discounting pretty much the smartphones before then and the stranglehold Nokia had on smartphones (and let’s not forget, they aren’t number 5, number 4, number 3 or number 2. But still number 1).

Again Nokia has stumbled. It has taken FAR, FAR, FAR too long for them to respond. But here is that foot in the door. C6-01, C7, E7 and N8 with low to mid-high range PRICES.

Conclusion – the writer is either ignorant of Nokia and tech in general or just wanted to post a provocative but baseless article.

Now Nokia, just do your bit and make sure these phones are tight. Make good with your support. And advertise THE HELL out of them. It’s pretty much all about PERCEPTION, PERCEPTION, PERCEPTION still as joe average is still clueless as to why he wants anything. He needs a bit of push, and there’s no good in being meek and humble about it. Shove your product in their faces.

-Rant over.

update: A link from GSM Arena Comment: It’s not all Gloom and Doom – the LONG term Nokia Strategy. (Hope it won’t be too long eh?)

Categories: Nokia, Nseries, Rant Tags: , ,

Nokia and the Long Term Strategy – It’s NOT all gloom and doom. Awesome things coming soon.

July 22, 2010 29 comments

It’s not all gloom and doom as “analysts” and certain blogs would have us believe.

Today, 22nd July 2010, Nokia reported Q2 earnings. Despite the fierce competition from all fronts, and without their best fighters on the front line, their smartphone market share still went up to 41%. Some other numbers are less flattering, and understandably so given the lack of new flagship. Many of your industry ‘analysts’ will concentrate on this and will spell yet again gloom, doom and death of Nokia.

  • “Nokia aren’t competing at the high end”
  • “Nokia fail to understand the smartphone market”
  • “Nokia are playing catchup to superior handset makers Apple, and the host of Android manufacturers”.
  • “Nokia’s Ovi store is lagging behind App Store”
  • “Nokia hasn’t got good, slim touch screen phone”
  • “It’s all about Android”
  • “Nokia missed the boat and should make an Android device”
  • “Nokia should have bought Palm and made WebOS devices”
  • “Nokia are making little progress”
  • “Nokia’s market share is collapsing”
  • “Nokia’s losing market share to Apple and Android”
  • Insert own negative Nokia comment.

Nokia still sold equal amounts of phones to RIM, Apple and HTC combined. But being that it’s Nokia, that’s of course a failure, especially if we compare operating margins and profits against Apple. (But then again, Apple is selling one extremely premium device, amongst it’s premium and arguably overpriced devices. Apple’s operating margin is higher than all of their competitors)

Operating margins were low, profits (though still in hundreds of millions) were down. Average price of handsets was down to 61EUR. Nokia handsets aren’t necessarily bad – on the contrary, they’re well priced for the features they hold. But this means lower profit margins on these cheaper, value for money handsets.

Note: for still at least a month there will be no high end handset to raise the average.

Nothing new in this post but worth reiterating as analysts and certain blogs seem oblivious to Nokia’s very open strategy (especially cringe worthy to hear now, suggestions of moving to Android).

The LONG TERM strategy

Thinking ahead - reap what you sow.

Since the N95, Nokia has been in an intermediate transition stage. Phones in between (to me) felt like they were just there to keep some attention on Nokia. N85, N96, N97. Unfortunately, they didn’t turn out to ultimately be positive attention.

In one sense, Nokia’s given iPhone and its competitors an easy ride. S60 wasn’t ready for touch screen. Nokia slapped a touch screen on and voila, S60 5th edition, with its annoyances to boot. Even better for competitors, Nokia gave their S60 5th Edition flagship gloriously underpowered hardware that makes it even harder to use it. Try S60 5th/S^1 on the Samsung i8910 – capacitive screen, faster hardware – it makes S60 5th slightly more palatable (even more so with certain cooked firmwares as default sammy one is missing quite a few features).

Nokia gave us a hint that they do have a very decent game plan with the N900 and MAEMO 5. Nokia were extremely quick to point out that this remarkable handset (which was everything we were waiting for on the power side) was only step 4 of 5 at Nokia World. Software was great, power and potential was amazing. Why dampen down the excitement with this killer honesty?

Step 5 is MeeGo, Nokia’s new open source and and Modern OS for mobile computers. And Nokia aren’t doing this alone; MeeGo is equally the child of the Intel, with a significant amount of partners lined up to make MeeGo devices. Qt which makes app development much easier also gives that cross platform advantage that means the same app will run on any Qt compatible device, whether that be your S^3 N8/C7/X7/E7, S^4 “E9”, or MeeGo N9/Tablet/Car infotainment etc. To those wanting apps, apps, apps, they’ll come. We’ve seen the N900 and N8 play those “iPhone Grade” games with ease. As a content producer/developer, would you restrict yourself from increasing your audience and revenue? As to distribution, MeeGo/Qt apps will be available through the Universal App Up Store from Intel or Nokia’s Ovi Store, the 3rd most popular behind App Store and Getjar.

Nokia World 2010 – ‘sleeping giant’ sets alarm for September 2010 to do some ass kicking.

Nokia’s LONG TERM strategy, transitioning to high end with quality user experience on touch optimized handsets starts coming to fruition this September (14th and 15th) at Nokia World 2010. The N8 may already be released around then, along with announcements of the rumoured super slim, 4″ screen N8 QWERTY (E7? RM-626) and the long awaited MeeGo Phone (N9?) which we all have high hopes on.

Remember our interview with Alberto Torres, Nokia EVP; MeeGo Computers.

  • MeeGo phone will push the boudaries of processing power
  • MeeGo phone will be a very high end product
  • MeeGo is an opportunity to create something well beyond what others are doing
  • MeeGo phone is step 5 of 5 and intended for mass market
  • MeeGo phone will be something everyone wants to own
  • MeeGo phone will try to satisfy all needs into one plate
  • MeeGo phone will be capacitive, more stylish and more beautiful with simpler UI that average users will find as equally compelling as tech leaders.
  • MeeGo has potential to be something deeper than typical smartphone
  • Nokia N8 will be Nokia’s flagship in a few months
  • All future flagships will be built on MeeGo
  • MeeGo phone will be on Nseries (not rumoured Sseries)
  • MeeGo will have higher experience level than Symbian
  • Symbian^3 and MeeGo will have certain minimum base level specification to ensure apps created on one device works in another.
  • N8 is first step in reclaiming momentum at high end.
  • MeeGo is the next step.

Much hope rests on MeeGo phone to be all it has promised to be, all it has expected to be and more. We’ve seen MeeGo on the netbook which has received positive reviews. We’ve seen MeeGo on the tablet, which looks extremely impressive. Finally, MeeGo on phones got a brief preview, and Eldar Murtazin says himself that Nokia’s own version of the UI will look much better than what we’ve seen on the Aava Mobile (and N900 with MeeGo).

N8 and future Symbian Devices

But a lot rests also with the remarkable multimedia machine, the N8 which has tantalized us since April and the almost DSLR rivalling camera. To outsiders of Nokia, that’s the only gun Nokia’s got in their holster (not realising the basement full of weapons being prepped in secret). There is a team of all stars in training. You know their names, you’ve seen one in leaked shots. Without them, Nokia has remained profitable and held ground with the substitutes (S^1 and S603rd and S40 handsets). What more when they come out on the pitch?

But all but one are Symbian devices…Symbian?

Symbian-Foundation really is just that for Nokia, a foundation of their core smartphone experience. As much as everyone else but Nokia would like Symbian to die (it’s the most used smartphone OS, why wouldn’t you want it to die if you were the competitor?) it’s here to stay and why not? Symbian will get better as it receives updates to the user experience to make it in line with today’s expectations.

Maturity of Symbian is a strength not a weakness – it’s highly advanced in terms of features and just needs a facelift in the UI to make the final user experience pleasant, thus ensuring people can use the plethora of features it’s had for many years that some are only recently praising as wonderful and new.

We’ve seen these usability issues addressed in Symbian^3. For the most of it, it will be good enough for the majority of its intended users. Symbian^4 is the real visual refit as we move to Qt/Orbit based UI from the traditional AVKON.

It’s pretty obvious but OPK confirmed more S^3 handsets coming soon in today’s Q2 report

In smartphones, we continue to renew our portfolio. We believe that the Nokia N8, the first of our Symbian^3 devices, will have a user experience superior to that of any smartphone Nokia has created. The Nokia N8 will be followed soon thereafter by further Symbian^3 smartphones that we are confident will give the platform broader appeal and reach, and kick-start Nokia’s fightback at the higher end of the market

Awesome things are on the horizon.

It takes time to turn around a big ship, and Nokia being the number 1 phone manufacturer is the biggest of them all.

Rest assured, Nokia are aware of the increasing competition and aren’t taking things lightly. Services are improving. Awesome handsets are coming. Hopefully, with a touch of marketing flair to do these products justice (perhaps not to the extent of a Reality Distortion Field, though whether Nokia and everyone needs one to even all the marketing confusion is another post altogether).

Here’s a fantastic comment by JFH in the previous post that pretty much mirrors the sentiment of this post:

I know very well that Nokia realised, even before the N97, they were caught off guard by the emergence of touchscreen phones as a status symbol. They were caught off guard when they were building services. At the worst possible time for them.

Since then they have managed to make Ovi maps in a gem of an asset, the Ovi store the 3rd most popular online store, and they expect to have 300 Million ovi services users.

They refocused on hardware & OS, and in my mind built a stellar device with the N900. Now that S^3 is here, S^4 is coming, MeeGo is coming, NFC, Pentaband, all that stuff is coming, with Qt, the way is up from the moment they announce all of this at Nokia World. I expect them to make a splash.

They have basically stayed profitable in the WORST time they have ever had, and they have made the right choices, technologically, strategically, and morally. They have gone through a storm, have continued to focus on long term investments instead of panicking, picking up Android and running with it.

They have 10 Billion is cash. The majority of patents in LTE. They build the largest LTE roll out to date at 7 Billion dollars. None of their new batch of devices is out yet, not even the N8. With an N8, N9, E7, X7, C7 coming out, their entire all star line up is absent, while the rest is digging their grave with the CPU MHZ wars.

Nokia is profitable, as opposed to what we see from Sammy of SE usually, because they have lower costs. Lower production costs, higher volumes, etc. They will not and should not give this away. What they should do is retain the cost advantage without skimping on performance.

THAT is the reason they wont pick up android. It turns them into Asus, or Dell, box pushers that compete on price on similar hardware & software: STUPID. And it is the smart way to go. I completely believe S^3/S^4 will give us equally snappy performance as competitors, but with lesser specs. Those specs are irrelevant, its experience that counts. And Nokia is betting it can deliver the same experience through cheaper chips, because Symbian is simply better at it.

For going all out, for getting perception turn positive again, for getting the spotlight back on Espoo, what better way to do this than lead the way in moving from smartphones to mobile computers. Did you see what just happened with FCam. Think you can do that on iOS?

So we have Nokia, Intel, & Linux foundation working on MeeGo. We already have seen a preview that looks already as shiny or better than the stuff that is out there now. BUT: Its a full real OS. Not iOS, not “look im a java VM” Android, but a real operating system. One that could run open office, or gimp, or what have you. The N9 will be a leap forward. Its the reason no one has seen it yet.

I know it has been said before, but wait and see.JFH

So….

Before you lose all hope in Nokia, just remember what’s coming at Nokia World 2010. Awesome things coming soon.

Categories: Nokia, Rant Tags: , ,

Poll: Does Nokia need to change their default icons and fonts? (#N8 #Symbian)

June 16, 2010 18 comments

S60 5th Edition - via N97

Symbian icons and fonts – does Nokia need to change them?

(Did you also know that YOU can change both icons and fonts easily with themes?)

Scroll at end or click here to vote at the poll

The Nokia N8 received rapturous applause in its multimedia prowess and strength of design. The resounding notion was that in hardware it was the cream of the crop, but in software, much improvement was still needed.

Annoyingly, many things that people dislike in Symbian^3 have been ironed out in Symbian^4. The layout has improved over S^3, less space wasting, the homescreen isn’t limited to panels, screen buttons are more conveniently placed etc.

Though there are many UI elements needing to be improved, one of the common issues people had with S60 5th Edition (and S60 in general) was the tired looking fonts and icons. Since these are consistent across all Nokia devices, including the upcoming Nokia N8, it immediately contributed to the perception that Symbian^3 is still dated looking.

These are subtle aspects but they do make great differences to the overall user experience.

The Font

This is from a previous post back in february

A font says a lot, though quite subtly, and so often overlooked.

The narrow Nokia font made sense in older phones when trying to conserve on pixel usage. But now we’ve got high res screens and can afford wider fonts, narrow, sharp fonts look much less appealing than their plumper, rounder counterparts.

The curviness of “Century Gothic” [Very similar to “Prelude”, used in Palm Pre I think] is often found in children’s books because of the emphasis on classic alphabet shapes and thus readability. Prelude is probably the best font at the moment being used on phones. The letters are very curved, a little more readable than Century Gothic (E.G. letter r), but less wasteful on character spacing.

We probably won’t see that font on a Nokia anytime soon, but it’s a step in the right direction that Nokia’s changing the font to something more pleasing to the eye.

Palm Pre font – considered the best by many for a smartphone.

The change is small yet highly influential to the overall user experience.

Most importantly however, this change is easy to make and you can do it yourself.

Symbian has always been on the forefront of customizability in themes. Find the right one and you can change the entire look of the phone.

Symbian^4 with veranda font:

This unfortunately is not the default look for S^4, but just one of the themes available (I think we’re still stuck in Nokia Sans)

The Icons

One of the issues with the icons (other than their actual design) is their lack of uniformity.

What I mean is that when icons are placed in a grid, because they can assume any shapes,

  • they form less clean lines,
  • you’re not really sure where you can press (i.e. inconsistent clickable areas)
  • (It could be argued however, that such icons with transparent backgrounds make it easier to recognize those icons. Consistency over all devices helps this too.)

Take a look at the default icons below.

Take a look at slightly modified icons (Simple Symbian theme installation – no hacking). They look nicer, more modern (the ones that are changed anyway), but they still aren’t uniform.

Maybe it’s the space constraint, and these type of icons aren’t suited for smaller screens. (Maybe the busy backgrounds aren’t helping?)

Now check out how they look in iPhone icons, i.e. in standard shapes. Squircles (curvy squares?).

  • The grid lines are cleaner to the eye
  • There’s basic symmetry and our eyes by instinct favour this.
  • Curves are innately more appealing than jagged edges (more modern looking – streamlined)
  • You know to always press within the space of the squircles.

Here’s another look but with slightly bigger, more 3D iPhone icons.

Adding squircles

Whilst Nokia couldn’t simply copy iPhone’s icons and put into default themes, you could just put squircles behind the default/any previous icon design.

A bit like Maemo 5 on N900 homescreen (and the new Samsung iPhone Galaxy S)

Size, symmetry and layout of course is important as well as icon design. This is just to demonstrate the ease of adding squircles which instantly make it more visually accessible.

MeeGo tablets have already been seen with uniform circle or uniform square icons. Not a Nokia product, but possibly a shape of things to come?

Which one is the iPhone

N8 with slightly revamped icons. Same shape, more modern looking.

Note portrait mode still has similar S60 5th layout but landscape has newer 2×6 grid.

N8 with iPad theme

Poll: Does Nokia Need to change their Default icons and fonts?

If you voted yes to a change, how should the icons be changed? What font should Nokia use?

And remember, most likely we'll also get themes as customizable as S60 5th where we can change fonts and icons to our taste.