Tag Archives: symbian

Going to Android

Over two years ago I was thinking about next cellphone and wrote that it would be something with Windows Mobile. There were comments that I should go for Android which was not on a market yet. In first week of 2009 I switched to Nokia E66 running Symbian. There were apps for this device (I even bought one: ProfiMail) and community existed with lot of tricks, hints, suggestions.

In October I got Nokia N900 discount offer and I decided to take it. Device arrived month later and I got hooked. Finally device which I can use daily for my network activity without having to carry additional cellphone (like it was with Nokia 770 and N810 tablets). Maemo community existed already and I was a part of it. As there were developers already equipped with N900s there was a constant flow of new applications, themes, tweaks and hints. Platform was living. Nokia provided few system updates, some of them even gave some nice new features.

But at same time it was known that amount of love for Nokia N900 at headquarters is near zero. MeeGo was announced just few months after device release so it was known that there will be very limited support level and that some things will never be done (like Ovi Maps with voice navigation).

So I started slowly to look at market to know which way to go for next cellphone. Windows Mobile 6.x was out of question as this is platform which gets out of market now. Windows Phone 7 is fresh, strictly controlled so I do not want to go there — let it first get some devices, applications etc. Symbian? no way — been there already. Ok, Nokia N8 looks nice but it is still Symbian. MeeGo is not yet market ready when it comes to phones and even when mystic N9 will be released then it will not be pure MeeGo but rather some kind of mix of open components from MeeGo + huge set of closed sourced applications written by Nokia. And who knows how long it will be supported…

So I looked into Android. Installed NITDroid on N900 to play with FroYo and it looks and behaves quite good. There are lot of communities (usually around families of devices), custom system images are something normal for popular devices (so if vendor does not support upgrades to newer OS versions then community usually do). Also lot of friends already use Android powered devices (cellphones, tablets etc) so there are lot of hints from them what to choose when it comes to hardware or software.

Which cellphone to choose? I have few candidates:

  • Nexus S – brand new device, Google supported so should get few OS releases, runs latest Android
  • Nexus One – nearly year on market, also Google supported, runs Android 2.2, newest version “should be out in few weeks”
  • HTC Desire – nearly same as Nexus One but this time as official HTC device. Android 2.2, should get at least 2.3 version from HTC
  • HTC Desire HD – hardware similar to previous one but bigger screen
  • HTC Desire Z – Desire + hardware QWERTY keyboard
  • Samsung Galaxy S – Android 2.1 but 2.3 is promised

Which to buy? Nexus S looks good and I will be in US in January…

And this will be my 4th cellphone running Linux…

UPDATE: added Samsung Galaxy S because vendor promised Android 2.3 — but it depends when it will be available.

Driving with Ovi Maps

My Symbian based Nokia E66 phone has Ovi Maps installed so one day I decided to make use of routing function in it when I was driving to the town (on a road where I did not needed to be guided). BT headset on ear, paired with phone and let’s drive.

At start road was selected quite properly, the problems started later. Many times it was recalculating route (the funniest was when I stopped at traffic lights it recalculated route and then made it again after driving for 5 meters). Directions changes information were also distracting: “on 200m go left” then “go right” when I reached point. Or “go left,right” when it was straight road or when I had to turn right at crossing.

I have to admit that after two tries I totally gave up on driving with it and switched back to TomTom device. But there is one good thing in Ovi Maps — it works quite good for walk navigation. I used it in many cities abroad and it handled. I hope that Maemo5 version will work at least that good as Symbian one.

Nokia N900 discount

On Friday evening I got email from Quim Gil (Nokia) with information that I was selected for Nokia N900 device discount. Yes, even I got it. Not decided yet will I apply for it or not (need to check cash state).

Why “even I”? Some of Maemo people know my opinions about it. And it does not stopped me from buying N810 for full price. I also have 770 (got it for free from Nokia guy with words like “sorry, we are out of N800″). I sort of ignored all previous developer programs (I sent email when the 770 one was done).

During ELC-E conference I played a little bit with N900. It feels a bit too heavy for me but I was nicely surprised by keyboard — it is even usable when I though that it will be worse. Whole system feels more advanced then Diablo (finally more proper Contacts application). But there are still some annoying bugs: Contacts app does not always scroll to just added field or lack of portrait mode. And that launcher without any categories…

Basically I will treat N900 not like “Internet tablet” but as a Smartphone. I tried to use 770 and n810 and the software most of time did not allowed me to make it fit for me.

I know that I have some bugs to check on it. From what I saw there is a Polish translation of Maemo5 so some bugs will be harder to check. So first days would be probably full of bugzilla work.

Will I use it as a each-day-phone instead of my Nokia E66 (Symbian)? No idea yet but I would like to because it is more open platform then S60 so with some time spent I can adapt it more to my needs.

So far my list of things which I expect is not so long:

  • SyncML synchronization over the Internet for PIM data (I use ScheduleWorld a lot)
  • IMAP4 offline capable mailer which will make a use of screen resolution (no less then 10 emails in list view)
  • Calendar with Agenda view (all events from a week at once in a list)
  • Widgets for calendar, birthdays, todos (so it will give functionality of S60 Today screen)
  • one place to disable/enable roaming for data (no more having this option in Ovi Maps, mailer, IM app etc)
  • navigation with routing
  • time defined switching of profiles with running applications on change of profile, enabling/disabling bluetooth (like BestProfiles on S60 do)

And few other things which I forgot.

I am sure that it will take few Maemo5 updates to satisfy this list and that I will have to life with it or try to write my own apps for that. Time will show. I know that for start N900 will be degradation not advancing.

Defining good Contacts application

What defines good Contacts application? Some will say that it depends on device which runs it, but I think that it is not true.

I am using Nokia E66 phone. It is running Symbian S60 3rd Edition FP1 (what ever it means). As a phone it has phone book called “Contacts”. Simple application which allows to have unlimited amount of entries with quite big set of possible fields. But phone also has GPS unit and is able to connect to Internet via WiFi, Bluetooth and GSM. Why I mention it? Because default address book ignore those elements…

So what should good Contacts application do? Except standard fields like phone numbers, SIP “numbers”, email addresses, web addresses, home/work addresses, birthdays, anniversaries, pictures, notes… I think that things like GPS coordinates for each address would be nice — add “Drive/Walk to” functionality and you get phone which can really be named “Navigator” (IIRC there was PalmOS powered PDA with that function).

Next thing which would be nice (especially with flat rate for GPRS) would be integration of IM communicator. Why I have to launch separate application to check who from my friends is available on Jabber, Skype, ICQ, GaduGadu, AIM, MSN etc. Why not have device auto login into those networks to check who from entries in address book is available to chat/talk with. And then let me choose do I want to make GSM call or Skype, SIP or other VoIP call. This will also remove situation which is present in most multi-protocol communicators: few entries for one person just because it use 7 accounts on 5 protocols. And let integrate all chats in one application with SMS/MMS stuff — this is done on Palm Pre according to their promotion videos.

And all those things should sync with external servers of course. So if I have Facebook account then let it fetch my connections from there and merge into address book — this is done on Palm Pre already. But let it be also second way (if user choose to) — so phone will check who from my contacts have a Facebook account and send join request.

Next thing: groups… Symbian has groups support and this is working, user can even define conferences numbers for groups and few other things. Next step should be linking contacts — you know: wife, kids, secretary, co-worker who do your job when you are on vacations… PalmOS Agendus had something like that, Symbian has only imitation (it is possible to enter person name but thats all).

Will there be such application? Maybe one day…

Sending files over Bluetooth to S60 devices

I use Nokia E66 phone. It runs S60 3rd edition FP1 (aka Symbian 9.2). When I switched to it sending files over Bluetooth was easy: obexftp -b BD:AD:RR:EE:SS:00 -p FILE1 FILE2 and files landed as messages in phone Inbox. But for some time it is not working — all I got was “Sending FILE1…failed” like messages.

Hopefully obexftp tool has some options available so after some tests I got it working. And result is even better as files lands in file system instead of Inbox. The trick is to give path on phone to obexftp: obexftp -b BD:AD:RR:EE:SS:00 -c E:/folder/on/card -p FILE1 FILE2 and files will land there.

Simple, nice and the most important: working :D