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Posts Tagged ‘Suggestions’

Ovi Store Rant: 7 things wrong with the Ovi Store

September 26, 2009 8 comments

I just watched Episode 91 of Steve Litchfield’s “The Phones Show” where in this episode, he covers Application Stores:

  • Apple’s App Store
  • Nokia’s Ovi Store
  • Google’s Android Market.

The Ovi Store is supposed to be Nokia’s one stop shop for Applications, Games, and other content such as ringtones, videos, wallpapers and themes.

I’ve been using the Ovi Store since the N97 came out. It’s good for what it does until you experience how stores work on other platforms- namely, App Store on the iPhone. Furthermore, there are annoyances in user experience that I would have had anyway were there no other app stores around.

The problems are listed with increasing hindrance to user experience as you decend the topics. (Hmm, for some reason, most of my list posts coincidentally end up having 7 items)

7. Inability to update the client within the app

Unless I go to the browser version of the Ovi Store and attempt to redownload Ovi Store for my N97, there’s no way for me to find out what version of the Ovi Store I’m using, let alone update it directly from the client itself. This is highly annoying since, with the stability issues (see next point), I need to know if there’s a new update that might improve my user experience of the Ovi Store so I won’t experience stupid error messages.

6. Stability issues

– on every update of the Ovi Store application, I have received annoying error messages that I’m not in fact signed in and Ovi Store refuses further navigation or download of applications.  At times it gets so frustrating that I use the browser version of Ovi Store.Fortunately, these error messages occur less frequently, but it’s annoying that it still happens.

Whislt writing this post, Ovi Store crashed my N97.

5. Poor Searching

– Searching for an application by name is almost impossible. The best option is to describe it. E.G. instead of looking for “tweet60/tweet 60” (which comes up with NO results) , I have to search “Twitter”. At the moment, the search function seems to be completely broken as it comes out with nothing for twitter

4. Poor, inconsistent preview style of apps before downloads.

The very first hurdle of the app store is getting a consumer to download an app. That’s the best way to really find out how good an app is. Good descriptions and previews help a lot if you’re unfamiliar with an application.

In Ovi Store, you get a short description, perhaps a thumbnail icon and if you’re lucky, a cropped screenshot of the app itself. In Apple’s App Store, the description varies, but it can get very detailed, lengthy and informative, whereas it’ll only ever be a short summary in Ovi Store. Also, you’ll get actual screenshots from the iPhone app.

Although the added information makes browsing for apps slower on the iPhone, the added detail in information makes it worth it (especially if you’re going to be forking over money!). Yes you could just find a dedicated review for that app, but it’s just so much more convenient to have that sort of detail within the app store itself.

not a n97

Ovi Store, Web Version. Small descriptions, cropped screenshot. Demonstrates what google shows as an N97 but that's NOT the N97. That's not even a REAL PHONE for goodness sakes. Who filters the Ovi Store submissions?

3. Poor Navigation

On the N97, you’ve got a huge 3.5″ 640X360 screen, but as with most S60 5th edition apps, Ovi Store does not take full advantage of all the available space. Instead, Ovi Store opts to bury things within options that should be easily viewable at all times.

  • Categories
  • Most Recent
  • Most Popular (time scale please…today, this week, this month? etc)
  • Filter paid/freeware
  • Search

In Ovi Store you have a switch thing at the top so change from “Recommended downloads, applications, games, audio/video and personalization”. Then there’s a bar for search. Categories/most popular etc are hidden two clicks away (one click for options, another to select) in options.

MNB4000017Why couldn’t the additional be set up simply as icons? Simple, easily visible, just one click away.

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Navigating both browser and mobile version of Ovi Store feels so unintuitive after using the App Store on either PC or iPhone. With the App Store in iTunes, it takes advantage of the bigger screen, displaying more apps, several categories/lists, different layouts of app description etc. Ovi Store on the browser has the same limited feel of the mobile app. Perhaps this is because Ovi Store doesn’t have a dedicated PC counterpart like iTunes and is just basically a browser version that’s also friendly to mobile browsers. But why can’t Ovi Store users have an improved PC version too?

Maybe more apps are just being downloaded directly from the mobile app? If so, then Nokia really need to invest in improving its user interface.

2. Lack of Content

…Both in quantity and quality. Launched late May 09 – so slightly understandable then for the lack of content at launch. 4 months on, there are few worthwhile additions for an N97 (or S60 5th edition) user looking for some great applications.

The Ovi Store attempts to cater for a lot of devices on Nokia’s various platforms, and not just in terms of applications but also audio and video customizations.

This fragmentation leads to a diluted content of applications with only

  • 565 compatible applications for the N97 …with several variants, e.g. English dictionary, Spanish Dictionary and several other reference dictionaries, several eBook titles (which should really be just 1 eBook app, with separate eBook purchase within the app). I reckon under 10% of the paid apps on the Ovi Store are anywhere near worth their price label.
  • 211 Games on the Ovi Store.
  • The bulk content for the N97 are audio/video and personalization with rank up 227+718 pieces respectively.

This does not account for the several hundred apps available for S60 5th edition, or the abundant themes which are yet (if at all) to make it on the Ovi Store.

[Fragmentation within the Nokia OSes means that there are more great apps for S60 that just never got ported over to 3rd/5th edition so will just be resigned to the history books]

1. Poor Pricing

One of my biggest loves for Apple’s App Store is not only the fantastic quality and vast numbers of applications available but the relatively cheap prices for paid applications. A lot of applications on the App Store are priced around $1/£0.59.

59 pence – that’s enough for what, 1 donut in Greggs (UK bakery). That price is so low, I wouldn’t even consider price as a factor in the purchase. Just whether it’s interesting enough for me to click and download it.

This makes it easy to make spontaneous purchases on applications that generate a slight interest.  That’s great for both the consumer (as we don’t pay that much for an app) and even more so for the developer as lots of people can make quick purchases which adds up! (1USD x 300,000 > 25GBP X 30).

One of the biggest faults (and hindrances for me anyway) on the Ovi Store is pricing. When you price an application high enough that I have to consider whether it’s worth it, almost always, I won’t buy it.

If I were to allocate myself £10 monthly app purchases, I’d easily spend that on 16 x £0.59 great applications, possibly more. But the moment prices creep up to £3, £4, £8, to £26, instead of making that spontaneous purchase, I reflect on whether the app is worth it, and just don’t bother buying.

It’s not simply the price but the value for money. £1.50, £3 or even £6 is a lot for an app that I may just use on a rare occasion, but more than worth it for apps I’d be using frequently, maybe on a daily basis like Gravity or are simply just very good quality applications like SmartMovie. Unfortunately, going back to content, there are few paid apps on Ovi Store that (I think) are worth the what they’ve valued themselves to be. Content quality and price go hand in hand. If some of the crappier apps on Ovi Store were priced cheaply, I think I’d take a punt and buy them because they would be cheap enough. But they aren’t.

Sell great apps for cheap/great value > make lots of sales and lots of money > attract other developers to make other fantastic apps > sell fantastic apps for cheap/great value > make lots of sales and lots of money > attract other developers to make other amazing apps > etc etc etc.

Poor pricing acts as a block to this cycle.

(There are additional factors involved such as ease of making apps and distribution base – I’ve just over simplified it)

I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong and Nokia and the developers are making megabucks with Ovi Store as it is.

Firmware Suggestions: Software improvements I’d like to see in the Nokia N97

July 27, 2009 15 comments

I just read an email from the WOM crew [the Don ;)]inviting me to a “virtual Q&A session” to discuss the latest firmware release (V11.0.021), where we see the N97 going in the future and what we’d like to see in future updates. This will take place on Thursday.

I’m absolutely shattered right now and just want to go to bed, but here are some of my suggestions I’m quickly gonna jot down . They’re just how I feel would improve my experience with the N97, the ideas which you may likely disagree with as you might have different needs, if so please feel free to shoot them down , maybe add your own suggestions too.

Now – the handset I’m using has a couple of faults (Voice dialling [though this works after hard reset, but fails again after memory card restore] and GPS [cannot get a GPS fix]) which I’m not too entirely sure how it affects other software aspects, so I’m not at all certain that bugs I encounter will be bugs you’ll encounter too (e.g. icon fonts spontaneously changing size when set to small). So I’ll either update with the bugs tomorrow and/or update with your suggestions of bug fixes.

Suggestions:

1. Keyboard

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  • When pressing shift, leave shift on. This is for both caps lock and inputting numbers/symbols.
  • Long pressing over a number gets you that number. e.g. instead of “RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR” you get “4”
  • Since the fullstop/comma/apostrophe are all annoyingly on the same button, the first keypress should be fullstop, two in a row gets comma and three get’s apostrophe. If you want to quickly have several fullstops then press “back” on the Dpad and the fullstop quickly. This is how I did it on traditional Nokia keypads and it’s still the best option for the N97 (for me, anyways) unless it miraculously receives a dedicated button for it.

2. Browser

  • Let the user have the option when they want to see the toolbar and when they want to hide it. Don’t leave it there to randomly decide upon its own choosing when to disappear and let me have the fullscreen view again. i.e. If I tap it, I see the toolbar, if I tap it again, it disappears.
  • Keep the progress bar there until it’s actually finished with the page! Sometimes it disappears, and you think the page has finished/frozen but no, it’s loading, it’s just that the bar is gone. (Then I press the toolbar to check, and oh, it’s stuck there for some predetermined time)
  • From Opera Mini: Pressing back immediately goes back to the previous page, without having to reload it. Yeah, that multi-window thing is nice, but it’s much quicker to press back a few times than to let the page reload (If it also allowed to quickly go forward again too, that would be a bonus)
  • Perhaps there could be an additional toolbar  (perhaps at the top) that when pressed shows you icons of your favourite sites (set via bookmark). A lot of the pages I browse are from a few main sites stuck in my bookmark toolbar, with just their icons. When in landscape, perhaps have a list of top 8? When in portrait, perhaps cut it down to first 5? Maybe if they’re feeling adventurous, for novice users have the icons set to the most visited on the N97 – though this may be a resource hog.
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some icons in by FireFox bookmark toolbar. The N97 would render a lot of these applications redundant, having a better dedicated application instead. e.g. Facebook/Nokia Messaging/BBC iPlayer/Amazon/Gravity (for twitter) leaving me space to fill it up with other top book marks instead.

  • Have keyboard short cuts!!!!!!!!!! There’s a whopping 33 buttons (not including the D-Pad) which do absolutely NOTHING except help in text input. Going back to the opera mini point, I love how simply pressing delete lets me go back a page. One click. Done. Pressing “1” gives me a toolbar/menu which I can easily escape from. I understand that takes away from optimizing a touch interface, but what’s the point of having that keyboard there if you’re not going to take advantage of it?
  • When zooming in web pages, please stay zoomed in at that level until I manually zoom out myself. I don’t like having to constantly tap or set the zoom-slider again and again after each new web page.

Camera

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  • Unless we go do the double icon columns as seen in the Samsung i8910 and Sony Ericsson Satio, the four big icons on the side must be extremely useful/important. The camera icon to take a picture is insanely redundant! We have a freakin shutter button for goodness sake. Perhaps change that with something more useful, i.e. switch to video (and vice versa in video mode)
  • When I change a setting, sometimes, I maybe done and just want to take the photo. But you can’t because you have to exit out of that menu first. Either let me take the photo with the settings window still overlapping, or, bring up the settings when you cover up the light sensor, and then hide them when you take your thumb off (the latter for optimal use with two hands, although this may not work in pitch black/extreme low light)
  • The camera UI itself needs a bit of an overhaul
  • Most likely, not possible, but have 16:9 photos, using up the entire screen?
  • Not necessary at all, I just liked the option to make time lapse videos with that function. Really like how fast sequence mode is now, it truly is burst mode (though crashes some times).
  • In video mode – could we have the option to turn video light on or off whilst taking the video?

UI Feel/Effects

  • Continuity, Continuity, Continuity.
  • Kinetic scrolling should be possible wherever scrolling is applicable. Normal scrolling is not fun with touch! i.e. Menu/contacts (as seen in 5530)/all other apps
  • UI effects – even with Theme Effects on, UI effects is PANTS! Even the 5800 has better theme effects. Have some minimize/maximise animations when closing/opening/switching apps. Even something like making that sliding animation (when you bring up options or dialler) would have been nice enough.
  • Transition effects are pants. I really like how nice Nokia PhotoBrowser looks, especially in terms of dealing with rotation. Take a look also at  the video of what we were supposed to expect from the N97.
  • Auto rotate screen should be left on as default.
  • Closing the QWERTY does not mean I want to view the phone in portrait mode. Most times, I just want to hide the keyboard after inputting some text. That’s all. I still want to use the phone in landscape. However, unless you turn auto-rotate on (which should be ON by default btw!), you’re going to be stuck in portrait. And even if you did turn auto-rotate on, the N97 will still switch to portrait, then switch back to landscape (when it should never have switched at all!). See Nokia PhotoBrowser again, as this best deals with rotation.
  • Resolving the 1tap or 2tap issue (make everything accessible by just 1 tap only please!)
  • Possibly have a 4×5 grid, and maybe have a similar autohide feature for the toolbar? (That damn toolbar takes up so much room! See full rant >>here<<)

Other

  • More Widget Support – There are growing numbers of apps for the N97, but not as many that can become a home screen widget. Always let me have the option to install something to mass memory. (Sometimes Ovi Store automatically installs it to where it wants)
  • When Installing something to mass memory, does phone memory have to be eaten up to? Is it possible to just leave that phone memory alone? It’s so astonishingly microscopic, I wouldn’t have cared, given the 29.8GB memory, I thought I’d never use that 61MB (from deep reset), but no.
  • When backing up to memory card, restoring should bring back everything. After a deep reset, restoring only got back my contacts and some settings. No messages, not my modified menu layout, not my apps annoyingly installed on phone (I can deal with the latter).
  • A lot of things are buried in menus that should not be. e.g. Ovi Sync, connectivity. By all means, add them to settings but don’t remove the dedicated app.
  • Slightly better connectivity management. When browsing within WLAN, then cutting off, I’d expect N97 to switch to GSM data but it doesn’t. It just gets confused, needing a restart of the browser/app.
  • Gallery does not recognize images previously taken by N97 after a deep reset (still stored on mass memory). – Though gallery isn’t really worth using when you install Nokia Photo Browser (I love that App!)
  • RAM improvements
  • General Speed improvements.

App specific improvements

  • Facebook  app needs further updating to be more aligned to current facebook features. Even at least to a couple or more months back. i.e. Hiding some contacts/viewing contact feed filter/viewing my own/friends statuses from profile thus letting me reply/add comments to those statuses (not only in feeds). Perhaps being able to zoom in on photos/save a photo?
  • N-Gage app – poor implementation of touch. Even Bounce isn’t touch (it was on 5800). Poor execution of keyboard keys. Could have been an excellent gaming form factor, but only real usable key is the D-Pad. Why also isn’t it full screen?
  • Homescreen App – Multiple Homescreens? I absolutely love the homescreen thing – great when really busy/in work, quick glance, I know my last 2 emails, last 3 tweets, last 3 facebook statuses, last 3 news headlines, in one second.-

Perhaps, 3 homescreens accessible by horizontal swiping. e.g. from the main/middle homescreen:

  • a swipe left could change the layout to a work oriented homescreen – emails/stocks/news/calendar
  • a swipe right could change the layout to a “home” homescreen – music player/facebook/bbc iPlayer

Video: Behind the new Nokia homescreen – multiple homescreens coming soon?

Future?

  • Possible compatibility with New Symbian Foundation OS?

OK OK OK – My brain is seriously going to explode I’m so tired. There are still things I wanted to add….

  • for a blank homescreen, you could have vertical (up/downward) swipe – or being greedy – just have the upward swipe for blank homescreen and have a downward swipe for the classic/5800 style homescreen?