A beta version of Nokia Maps Suite 2.0 has been released through Nokia Beta Labs for Symbian^3 devices running Nokia Belle. The updates in this release include the addition of a photo layer to maps (displays your photos), the return of standalone route planning, improved map display in Drive, new homescreen widgets, the addition of hands-free voice search, improved coverage and integration for Public Transport, and the addition of a landscape view in Weather.
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Following on from our extensive story on the Symbian Nokia Belle update availability, I wanted to highlight Nokia's own, surprisingly comprehensive, Belle Update FAQ. With five major sections, covering roll out, how to update, application compatibility, music license problems and troubleshooting, there's plenty of meat in here, and most users should find an answer to their update queries.
Nokia has announced planned changes at its factories in Komarom (Hungary), Reynosa (Mexico) and Salo (Finland), to "increase efficiency in smartphone production". These three factories will now focus on "smartphone product customization" and device assembly is expected to be transferred to Nokia factories in Asia, where the majority of component suppliers are based. Around 4000 employees will ultimately be lost.
The roll-out of Nokia Belle (i.e. Symbian Belle) for existing Symbian^3/Anna devices has started across the world, with most devices (here's the official Nokia Belle rollout status checker) getting an update via Nokia Suite to firmware v111.030. There's no OTA (over the air) update available this time because of the complexity and size of the update, which means the latest Nokia Suite on a Windows PC is required. Nokia is enabling the update, product code by product code, across the world. (Story updated again, with list of known issues).
I've been very impressed by the technical knowhow of 'theycallthislife' and there's a new post up comparing the cameras of the Nokia N8, Apple iPhone 4S and Samsung Galaxy S II, the three best camera phones in the world right now. With good example shots that can be examined in full detail and with interesting analysis, it's well worth a ten minute read. As to the winner, let's just say that the iPhone 4S comes closer than any other contender has in the eighteen months the N8 has been available....(!)
Corning, the company behind the Gorilla Glass in our smartphones, has produced another of its inspirational 'here's the future' videos and, as with the original one, it's well worth watching. There are two versions of the video, actually, I've embedded the expanded one below, complete with video guide to all the (probable) tech used. Seems like touchscreens really are the new buttons? [PS. Watch out for the medical sequence - it's something we're used to seeing only in Sci-fi]
When Nokia introduced CBD (ClearBlack Display) at Nokia World 2010, for the C6-01 and E7 models, there was an element of uncertainty involved as to how this technology worked. Certainly it was incredibly effective at cutting out reflections from ambient light, but noone seemed to know the full details. After much digging, we established it was something to do with polarising layers, but only now do we see a clear depiction of how CBD works.
The Skype app is now available for Nokia's Symbian Belle devices (700, 701 and 603, etc., plus many others once Belle update is available) The application has been updated with the Belle UI look and feel and overall performance has been significantly improved. Nearly all of the core voice calling and IM functionality of Skype is implemented in the Symbian client, making this a must have app for frequent Skype users.
Most of the numbers are now in for Q4, 2011 and, while some are estimates, we now have a pretty good idea of the state of the mobile industry for the last quarter. Phones grew 6% year on year, smartphones by a whopping 63%, with the latter now at 36% of the overall market. The top three companies were the same by either metric - Apple, Samsung and Nokia are way ahead of the rest.
An updated version of the Qt SDK, version 1.2, was released today. It contains all the tools required to create Qt applications for Nokia's Symbian devices. The new version includes Qt Creator 2.4 (bringing improvement to the QML editor and numerous bug fixes) and Qt Mobility 1.2 (improved API access to Bluetooth and NFC).
Available free for a 'limited time' are four 'Premium' themes from one of our favourite S60 3rd Edition/S60 5th Edition/Symbian designers, Pizero. The themes are Aurora, Paradise, Magma and Azure and I've included links to all the free download pages below. Grab 'em while you can!
A new version of Nokia Social, version 1.5.214, is now available from the Nokia Store. Following in the footsteps of version 1.4, which was was released a fortnight ago, the new version aims to provides fixes for installation and connectivity issues. However, the new version also includes a new Facebook widget and an update for the generic Social widget.
The news that Nokia just handed over its one and a half billionth Series 40 phone was interesting - and impressive - and got me thinking and fact-checking. Just how many Symbian-powered smartphones have been sold, in total, i.e. in the last decade? Turns out it's now well over 500 million, i.e. over half a billion Symbian smartphones have already been sold and are... out there in the world somewhere. Some thoughts below.
Nokia has released its Q4 2011 results, reporting an operating loss of €954 million, with net sales of €10.0 billion (down 21% YoY). Nokia's Devices and Services division's profits were €203 million. Margins in devices and services were 3.4% (down from 12.7 % on Q4 2010 and up from 3.1% in Q3 2011). Total smartphone device sales were 19.6 million, compared with 28.6 million units in Q4 2010 (down 31% YoY) and 16.8 million units in Q3 2011 (up 17%, QoQ).
Even though the QML Store client is now the 'norm' and formally released, the betas continue, with v3.22.044 now supporting in-app purchases, i.e. applications can call the Store client when needed for handling payments. A few screens and links below. Of note is that this client is now built on the very latest Qt 4.7.4 and Qt quick components v1.1, both of which are baked into the upcoming Belle OS update.