All About Symbian - Nokia (S60) and Sony Ericsson (UIQ) smartphones unwrapped

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  #1  
Old 30-08-2010, 07:13 AM
slitchfield slitchfield is offline
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Application auto-update the way to go - as part of a two-pronged strategy?

Applications are rarely completely static. Anything with a decent amount of functionality is bound to have either flaws - which then hopefully get fixed - or planned improvements. The big question is how to best to get these new versions out to users. In this news editorial, I look at how application updates work for the three big smartphone platforms of the moment, Symbian, iPhone and Android. What can those in the Symbian world learn or implement?

Read on in the full article.

  #2  
Old 30-08-2010, 08:00 AM
phessler
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the lomence

while I haven't used an iphone myself, I see the definite advantage of having a central location tell us that there are updates available. Since (logically) this would only work for software purchased from the Ovi store, Nokia will need to put in a serious effort to attract developers to the platform.

Opening it up to *all* symbian OS devices (not just Nokia branded phones), would be a necessary step. The other major steps were recently made (simpler/cheaper signing process, uploading new versions, etc).

I've been using Gravity for over a year now, and while the application's auto-notification of updates is brilliant, I find that directly following the author (@janole) gives us faster access to the updates. He posts links to new versions more often than he updates the Update tab. Of course, this is for pre-Alpha versions, so that is not unexpected. (A nice feature that he could add would be a preference option for "give me scary updates" vs "give me released versions" in the Updates tab. Would make sure that the average user is recommended only tested and vetted versions, and would allow advanced users access to bleeding edge versions.
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  #3  
Old 30-08-2010, 08:18 AM
j d j d is offline
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maemo is the real winner

I would argue that Maemo does this better than any mobile OS.

All the devs do is update the version in the repository, and mameo automatically notices the new version and shows updates available in the n900's notification area.

WIN.

  #4  
Old 30-08-2010, 08:20 AM
Dubito Dubito is offline
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I agree that following developers on twitter is often the easiest way to become aware of updates, but you have to spot them in the stream of other updates, and you then have to act upon that knowledge - download sis, install...

I find Gravity's system great, but it can be easy to notice that an update's waiting for you, if your focus is on open app > check twitter > check facebook > read news > close app.

I'm also somewhat bewildered by Nokia's glacial pace of development of the Ovi Store client with regard to update notifications, since they implemented an update application for system software.

Another option is the one followed by one software publisher - I forget who - who demanded registration with an email address, and then justified that by emailing an updated *.sis file to registered users. If you've got on-device email set up, that makes things even easier.

Personally, I don't think that any application which needs network access to function has an excuse for not regularly checking for updates - and that doesn't include an option to open Web and check manually - and it is in the interests of all developers to provide an easy update route for users so users respect the developer and don't lose faith if they find a bug or have been waiting for functionality improvements.

Since Nokia hasn't done this for you, and more importantly since Symbian =\= Nokia, despite what the uninformed may assume to the contrary, developers need to do it for themselves.

  #5  
Old 30-08-2010, 09:11 AM
marxian marxian is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by j d View Post
I would argue that Maemo does this better than any mobile OS.

All the devs do is update the version in the repository, and mameo automatically notices the new version and shows updates available in the n900's notification area.

WIN.
I agree. If only the application manager wasn't so sloooow.

  #6  
Old 30-08-2010, 09:42 AM
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Profimail on Symbian informs the user of available updates, it works beautifully. I prefer the updates to come from within the application because users and developers are not constrained to distributing apps through one monopolising outlet.

  #7  
Old 30-08-2010, 09:48 AM
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The trouble with the application auto update model is that you have to start the app to see if there is an update. Fine if you only have ten apps installed. But I have 223 apps on my iPhone, and its great that I can just check one place to see if there are updates.
I realise that I am probably not the norm not everyone would have as many apps, but even so, I would have loved to have had the same function on my Symbian phones.
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Old 30-08-2010, 10:13 AM
brendand brendand is offline
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Surely the model preferred by Steve is that the application checks for updates when you open it? If you haven't opened it then you don't need an update because you aren't using it. As soon as you do open it (and therefore need the update) you'll get served it. An exception would be applications that run as services - these might need to issue a notification to some central place.

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Old 30-08-2010, 10:50 AM
talhamid talhamid is offline
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I agree that N900 has the best way, but it is hampered by a slow manager, also the interface itself is not very user friendly.

Android Froyo allows users to update softwares all at once, I wonder why the author mentions it so passingly (atrocious word I know). Yes you may argue that 'Android is fragmented' (so spoketh a Symbian user!) but Froyo is being pushed out to all sorts of devices, even the D1, through rooting and ROMs, and installing custom ROMs on Android is easier than ever.

Symbian, oh symbian. Firstly, the platform is fragmented. Secondly, the 'flavours' of the OS are fragmented according to the maker's brand. Thirdly, the Ovi store is fragmented according to device. Fourthly, the devices are fragmented according to regions. And why bother, since most apps are not worth the trouble of using a Symbian phone anyway.

I SO wish Nokia adopt Maemo/Meego as their platform of choice. Maemo, despite on its last legs, is as good as Android and better in some respects.

  #10  
Old 30-08-2010, 11:48 AM
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LCGs Xplore does auto update.
Basically all LCG apps can check and automatically install an update if its available also the UC browser can do the same thing.

  #11  
Old 30-08-2010, 11:49 AM
Biggles Biggles is offline
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I'm on the fence.

I can see benefits to applications self-updating, such as access to betas, and for many it works well. But it does require far more button presses in the long run compared to a centralised update all option.

However, the main reason to have a centralised updating mechanism is because it's safer. Say I'm an evil hacker and somehow compromise the servers of an app that self-updates. I put up a fake update with some kind of malware in it. You see an update, you install it, you send me premium rate text messages or something.

I'm not saying that scenario is impossible on the App Store just that you need to get an application approved first and that extra step adds a layer of security.

Of course app stores being the only method of installing apps is another kettle of fish...

  #12  
Old 30-08-2010, 11:58 AM
brendand brendand is offline
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@Biggles,

Sorry, you're wrong. The only way to update binaries is through the software-install mechanism. Updates need to be signed as well. Taking updates from a developers server is no more or less dangerous than taking an app from there in the first place.

  #13  
Old 30-08-2010, 12:02 PM
payaxy
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Automatic system managed update for all apps is the way to go

Sorry Steve, but this article is yet another attempt to justify Symbian's shortcomings and present them as advantage of some kind.

You say that app-integrated update might be a good thing and give 2 advantages:

1. the user doesn't have to lift a finger

Your example would mean that you start an app, intending to use it, instead your workflow gets interrupted by update process - restart of app etc.

For me, true definition of 'doesn't have to lift a finger' approach is system as implemented in Android 2.2 at the moment, when you check whether app should be able to update automatically and from that point on, you don't do a damn thing. It's always up to date. Even better would be if this option were on by default (on wifi), so mainstream users would have apps always updated. IF (stressing IF) you feel the need, you might install latest alpha/beta as apk package file, same as in Symbian.

Iphone OS is close, but doesn't have the automatic update capability as far as I know...

2. updates obtained from the developer's server will be bang up to date

True, but there are two major problems with this:

1) You might not always want to go for the latest, greatest alpha version available. With Gravity, this works because janole is such a great developer, but even with him there were several times when one update was following the other, fixing something broke in the previous alpha.

2) How do you get the information? Certainly, you can follow social media channel - twitter etc. of the developer. But honestly, regular Joe the user doesn't even perhaps know what twitter is, and surely you cannot expect mainstream users to follow app developers for such simple task of keeping apps updated.
I have some 70 apps installed on my phone at the moment, following just 2 or 3 devs. For entirely different reasons than updates

I can see the approach perhaps working for you, since you're interested in Telco, but for normal users this is simply too complicated, time consuming and awkward to use.

I didn't write this to do some Symbian trolling that's so popular nowadays, but in hopes that Symbian folks will stop whitewashing Symbian's faults and try to push it to reach level of other modern mobile OS.

payaxy
(previously Symbian, now happy Android user)

  #14  
Old 30-08-2010, 12:22 PM
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jApi NL jApi NL is offline
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Smile LCG X-Plore

I also like the Update and Operation of Lonely Cat Games . While using X-Plore you will get a reminder to check for Updates after a period of use . You can neglect or accept the reminder .
What's more : also (in my case using Opera Mini) one can visit the website to check the current version and download the file to the filemanager first . From there the install can be done .
This way you can store the old version . It is of great benefit , when the Updated version has glitches , which are not on the former version .
Shortly : from filemanager I reinstalled X-Plore 1.42 after I found glitches in V. 1.45 .

Regards jApi NL

  #15  
Old 30-08-2010, 12:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by talhamid View Post
I agree that N900 has the best way, but it is hampered by a slow manager, also the interface itself is not very user friendly.

Android Froyo allows users to update softwares all at once, I wonder why the author mentions it so passingly (atrocious word I know). Yes you may argue that 'Android is fragmented' (so spoketh a Symbian user!) but Froyo is being pushed out to all sorts of devices, even the D1, through rooting and ROMs, and installing custom ROMs on Android is easier than ever.

Symbian, oh symbian. Firstly, the platform is fragmented. Secondly, the 'flavours' of the OS are fragmented according to the maker's brand. Thirdly, the Ovi store is fragmented according to device. Fourthly, the devices are fragmented according to regions. And why bother, since most apps are not worth the trouble of using a Symbian phone anyway.

I SO wish Nokia adopt Maemo/Meego as their platform of choice. Maemo, despite on its last legs, is as good as Android and better in some respects.
That really is BS. Any phone OS will get to that point once it matures, Maemo will go the same way, Android is already there. The only way to avoid completely fragmenting in that way is to take the iPhone route and have a single platform with minimal variation as with iPhone/iPad.

Today I became completely hacked off with my Android phone that I am trying to persevere with and have gone back to the iPhone while I wait for the new Symbian ^3 / ^4 stuff to arrive. All the hype and bull about Android and in my experience it is complete crap. I find it halarious how many criticisms of old Symbian are equally valid against Android.
 

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