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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What 12 Firmware Improvements Immediately Noticed in PR 1.2?

Australia now has PR 1.2 for the Nokia N9. I've just upgraded my Nokia N9 to the 1.2 release which took almost an hour to get all the updates installed. Here are some of the things I have noticed about the 1.2 update:

  • The update did not wipe out my apps, phone calls or sms which is always good. 
  • The speed of the phone seems to be the same as before
  • Swype is MUCH faster than before
  • Facebook icon on the top status bar shows up when there are Facebook notifications
  • Twitter problems which were referred to in this blog earlier have been fixed. Before installing the 1.2 update, my twitter application was broken again and I hadn't gotten around to fixing it (again). Thank God for the 1.2 update then! 
  • The new Nokia font doesn't get noticed.. UNTIL you look at your notifications screen in which case you think, wow, that looks so much better! 
  • Sound effects added to the swipe down to close gesture
  • Drive app now has an overview icon in the bottom right corner which gives you the ability to zoom out of your current view to see a context view of the map
  • Maps app includes Favourites which allow you to "star" some of your favourite locations
  • Front facing camera hasn't been tried out yet - can't enable it for camera
  • Cut, Copy and Paste are available (see below)

So what have you noticed about PR 1.2?

Monday, February 27, 2012

What does the PR 1.2 for N9 changelog include?

According to Wikipedia, here is a list of improvements we should see in the 1.2 update for the Nokia N9 but the question is, which of these did you really appreciate? Would love to hear your thoughts. There are supposed to be about  3500 improvements including:
  • fixed 122 bugs reported by users from all over the World in public bugtrucker
  • DLNA support (for music sharing)
  • folders on the "Home Screen"
  • universal copy/paste
  • faster codecs for video coded in H.264 standard,[50]
  • USB On-The-Go (AKA USB OTG) which will allow various accessories to be attached such as keyboards, mice, and external memory and many other improvements[citation needed]
  • quick change of flash LED in foto mode, also quick change of LED in video camera mode, w/o leaving application (camera)
  • better playing H.264 video
  • search option for Microsoft Exchange mailing
  • VPN support
  • bigger interliny for system fonts
  • graphic element for confirmation informing that a software is to be closed
  • improved Facebook client
  • DropBox account support
  • improvements in built-in browser
  • improvements in camera supporting application
  • improvements in Gallery application
  • improvements in Nokia Music application

Here's the N9 1.2 firmware changes posted on Maemo.org

1 Folders. To rename a folder press and hold inside the created folder to see a space to type the name.
2 Default font changed. Including height and weight.
3 Contact Book has the 'Search' bar visible by default.
4 Each Contact Book entry now has wording "Synct to - MFE - <email address>". This isnt 'clickable' and seems odd as it takes up quite a bit of space without clear functionality.
5 IM Availability screen has been changed. It is now dark themed.
6 Searching for contacts has been optimised and now allows you to search in Skype from the same screen.
7 Swype keyboard now has bigger keys. Cant emphasise how great of an update this is. Also they seem to have fixed the "P" bug in swype. Previously starting a word with P in swype resulted in the keyboard being swiped. This no longer happens.
8 Turning off the device causes the LED to stay on. Once it goes off the device can be turned on again.
9 All UI menus have changed from white grey to black grey. 
10 Support for D-Pad arrows.

Homescreen/Standby Screen
1 LED now 'breathes' when the device is being charged.
2 Facebook/Twitter notifications on the home screen.
3 Swiping down to close an app now results in a dark shadow being cast on the open window. I suppose this is to indicate the swipe will close the app? Nice touch.
4 Closing an app no longer results in the app appearing in the multi tasking window for a split second before closing.
5 Disable Backgound connection for mobile data connection (ie. if you want to allow only WLAN to be used for bg connection).

1 Copy and paste in the Browser.
2 Most visited links on the Browser now has the top 2 visited sites in Bold and same size. (see image)
3 Opening and closing a link from a browser sends you back to the original page as oppose to the multi tasking window.

1 Video Calling (more details needed)
2 Camera improvement (Shortcut to enable/disable flash, New filters for video recording? and an option to turn on flash whilst recording)
3 Gallery Improvement (Face tagging)
4 Some new Wallpapers inserted in Gallery?
5 Media Sharing. Support for DLNA enabled devices (not tested)
6 More image editing options in the Gallery.
7 Selecting multiple files in the image gallery causes a purple haze to appear over the images. Previously only a purple outline was used.
8 Music. Now you can delete a music file straight from the media player.
9 Music Player supports Playlist making
10 Support for Dropbox

1 Email. The words "up-to-date" now appear when a mailbox has been synced in the last 1 minute.
2 Threaded email.
3 Email. A failure to sync an inbox now shows a red arrow on the notification bar. 

1 Improved scrolling in most apps. Including the Ovi/Nokia Market. Though lag still appears unexpectedly.
2 Drive. The Drive App now has imported all the Favourites from the Maps application. Also the panning/zooming is much smoother. I also note that street names now re-flow with you to ensure you can always see the street names.

Bugs/lacking features that still annoy me
1 Twitter. Still unable to retweet in the official app. 
2 Facebook App still missing "Groups". 
3 After editing a photo it still takes a while for the "Share" button to appear for that particular image.

What improvements have changed the way you use your N9? what's left to do? 

N9 now has PR1.2

Word is spreading around the world as some countries report that their Nokia N9 has finally received the PR 1.2 firmware update. Finland, Brazil and Sweden Nokia N9 users have reported the firmware has appeared on their phones. No news yet from other Australian fans.

Not sure how to check if your N9 phone has the update?

Go to Settings -> Applications -> Manage Applications -> tap on the bottom right icon -> tap on the top righ icon to refresh. 

Have you got the N9 firmware update? let us know what you think of it.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Meego WP7 then Ice Cream Sandwich

Well there seems no doubt that work is well underway to bring us an N9 with an Ice Cream Sandwich Android operating system which will add to the confusion people already have from the Lumia and N9 using the same phone design. Android developer Alexey Roslykov is single-handedly bringing to N9 users the option of installing the Ice Cream Sandwich operating system to their N9, creating a phone that can be turned on to Meego or Android. You can follow his progress here. Alexey has posted a video of the N9 running Android but it's still under development.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Nokia Australia Lumia Videos

Nokia Australia is preparing for a 2012 March into the Australian market with intro videos of the Lumia 800 already available as people are expected to youtube the Lumia 800 which is being released into the Aussie outback in just two weeks from today. Complete with an Australian accent, these videos seem to target those that are relatively new to smartphones, explaining the key features of the Lumia 800 as well as relating the features back to things that the viewer may be able to understand, like Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer which almost everyone is familiar with. What do you think of the videos?


Nokia Drive - how to use navigation, check the map and leave reviews

 Browsing - features of Internet Explorer, sharing websites etc  

Microsoft Office - why you need a phone with Word, Excel and Powerpoint built in with Skydrive and sharing  

 Apps and Games

Music & Entertainment - with mix radio, how to buy tickets to concerts and camera features

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Amazing Everyday in Denmark for Lumia

Once again another interesting marketing strategy out of the Nokia bag as they transformed a dull walkway in Denmark to an unexpected pick-me-up. Check it out. At least it would put a smile on your face :)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Swiper's Guide to the Lumia 800

The swipe concept that we all love in the Nokia N9 has been a major talking point amongst users, so it is interesting to take a swipe at how the Lumia uses 'swipe' in its interface. 

Generally, swipe not been fully implemented in all it's glory on the Lumia 800. The main home interface of tiles can only be swiped to the left to reveal a more detailed menu of tiles. To get to the multitasking screen, you need to hold down the "Back Arrow" virtual button on the bottom left of the phone which reveals all the open applications or screens. However, many of the applications do use the swipe to get between various screens. For example: 

Swipe in People - This tile brings together your different social media worlds to one integrated view. The swipes give you the following views: 
What's New (tweets / facebook updates) -> Recent (calls / text) -> All (phone and facebook contacts)

Swipe in Messaging - In Messaging, you can swipe across from your SMS threaded conversations to reveal your online messaging such as facebook etc. This makes the integration between social media and real life text messaging much easier. 

Swipe in Marketplace - Swipe between 
Applications -> Games -> Music 
and within these options, you can swipe between applications that are 
Featured -> Categories -> New -> Top. 

Swipe in Camera Mode - When you are taking photos, you can swipe across to the right to see your previous photos / videos taken which makes it easier to review captured media without pressing buttons (which we now hate doing thanks to the N9). 

Swipe in Calendar - You can have a look at what your day looks like, then swipe to check out your agenda overview of your week, and then swipe one more time to check out your To-Do list. Much faster!

Swipe in Emails - Swipe between All your emails, Unread emails, and those classified Urgent. However swipe does not take you from one email to another which requires you to press the forward and back buttons on the screen. 

Swipe in facebook - This has  made Facebook browsing on the Lumia a little more interesting as you can swipe across from the News Feed to 
Photos -> Events -> Notifications -> Profile.

So there you have it, a quick overview of the future of swipe in Microsoft Phone 7 phones. There could be changes in later updates so a lot of that depends on your feedback. What swipes do you think must be included? 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Nokia Belgium Brings Amazing to Everyday Commuters

Imagine waking up on a normal work day and catching the same bus to get on the same train and again forgetting to have your breakfast. As your usual train reaches your usual stop, you get off in the usual way, pushing through the crowd and then you see this..

 Nokia takes its message about the Nokia Lumia 800 to the train station, concealing yummy cupcakes in Lumia advertising to promote Nokia's commitment to make every day amazing. This promotion has left many around the world asking for the sweet taste of a new Lumia phone promotion in their own city. Edit: Nokia Ireland have been seen giving out these Amazing cookies. What's happening in your city?

Lumia 800: A more practical look (ongoing review)

I've always said that if a phone is designed well, there isnt too much of a need for lots of apps. The Lumia 800 takes this theme to the test with a fully integrated social media experience that makes us wonder why not all phones are being designed in this way.

The Lumia 800 unashamedly looks very similar to the N9 but unlike the N9, this phone has the weight of a whole company riding on its back and is the flag bearer for Nokia's future with Microsoft's Windows Phone 7.

The start up time for the Lumia 800 is much faster than the N9 and the phone seems to utilize it's 1.4Ghz CPU well to keep the phone snappy and responsive. By now you have probably read the usual reviews about the Lumia 800 but here it is from a Nokia N9 user.

PROS - Little things that impress

The Tiles - there is a lot of potential on the first screen that you see with the Lumia 800. Each tile flickers with either information or photos. I haven't explored this completely but I the People tile seems to show photos of people in your contact list / facebook aand the Me tile shows you the most recent notificaiton from Twitter / Facebook relating to you. The Pictures shows recently taken photos.

Swipe - In some ways, the Nokia Lumia 800 has applied swipe gestures more in the applications but less in the general interface of the phone. Perhaps Microsoft wanted the Microsoft button to do something central in the Lumia to signal their new role in the Nokia phones. Anyway, we'll talk more about the swipe in the Lumia another time suffice to say it seems like two steps forward and one step back in the use of swipe.

Group SMS - you can create a home tile which has a group of friends. This allows you to tap the tile and text everyone in the group at the same time. When the sms is sent out, the phone does not create 5 versions of the same SMS to appear for each contact but lists the recipients at the top of the one text in the same way emails do normally. This is one step forward in the right direction.

Navigation - The Nokia Map and Drive applications look very similar to the N9's version except the Lumia 800 doesn't allow you to rotate the map in the way the N9 supports. The drive app is very easy to use and those that have never had a look at the Nokia navigation system will be blown away. This will put Tomtom Garmin and Navman all out of business!

CONS - Little things that disappoint 

Contacts Transfer to Lumia from N9 - Had some problems with the Lumia's contacts transfer thinking that the N9 and Lumia would talk to each other pretty smoothly. Instead, the sync failed three times half way through leaving me some of my contacts not copied over and a plethora of <unnamed> items in the phone book. Add to that the fact that there is no "delete all" function in the Lumia, I felt this was a bad start.

Google v Microsoft - One concern that keeps coming up for me with Nokia is this insistence that users choose their allegiance, either you go Microsoft or Google. Google or Bing. Gmail or Hotmail. The Lumia 800 calendar allows you to add your Google account but it doesn't give you the chance to bring in all the calendars in your Google account. Google Docs doesn't seem to work well either and forget about Google Maps when you use the Lumia 800. If Nokia wants to beat Google, they need to accept the fact that people are using Google and transition them over to Nokia's ecosystem.
Eg - allow importing Google Docs to Skydrive, Google Maps to Nokia Maps, Gmail emails checked by Windows Live. At the time of writing, I still had difficulty bringing in my Google Calendar entries into the Lumia 800.

Nokia Maps - Perhaps it will take time but it seems that the search engine for places in Nokia Maps is quite lacking. I searched for a famous cafe in Perth The Imp and it ended up calling the same restaurant Lmp. Perhaps in the future the search results can link to websites like Urbanspoon etc to keep information on the maps more current.

Camera - Full focus (or touch focus as it's called) camera, not auto focus. Photos will be taken faster but not as clear as say the Nokia N8. Full HD 1280 x 720 30 FPS video recording is a lot of fun!

So what do YOU think? Are you a N9 user, looking to buy a Lumia or recently got one? I'll add more to this review but for now leave your comments below and give you an opportunity to shape my next chapter. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How to update firmware on N9

To update your N9's firmware, all you need to do is head over to your notifications screen on your phone and click on DEVICE UPDATE. This will give you an opportunity to create a backup before you install the new firmware. Then press Update Device Software. If the update does not appear on the notification screen, it's not yet available to you.