If you've seen the odd error message recently on a Symbian smartphone, at least when using it on Wi-fi, it's because Nokia's longstanding connectivity-test.ext.nokia.com server is now offline, the latest in a long line of Symbian support resources to disappear under Microsoft's ownership of Nokia's Devices division. The good news is that Wifi connectivity does work on the whole still, albeit without automatic connection. [Update] The URL has now been restored - presumably with Nokia's cooperation, so you can relax again!
Recent News - S60 5th Edition
Unsurprisingly, the end of Symbian as a viable smartphone platform just got even closer, with Microsoft (Symbian's new owners after the Nokia Devices buy-out) shutting down all the servers handling Over The Air and Nokia Suite firmware updates. In theory this will happen at the end of this year, but some readers are reporting that it's all shut down already. Not that any of this will stop real Symbian hard core users, mind you, since the Delight custom firmware images are still available, as are SIS installation files for many third party applications. But, bit by bit, it's getting harder and harder to stay on Symbian without an excessive amount of work.
We knew this was coming, of course. The Nokia Store (for Symbian, etc.) closed for new business/apps well over a year ago and we knew that a deal had been struck with Opera for the latter to keep it going in some form. The recent Store update contained the necessary redirect code and now the button has been pushed by Microsoft to redirect any use of the on-device Nokia Store application to the Opera web site/store.
As everyone's now aware, the Nokia Store (for Symbian apps) is effectively frozen as of midnight tonight. Which means no updates, no new applications - nothing at all. Of course, a lot of the content can stay as-is (and will still be downloadable), but there are bound to be updates needed in order to maintain compatibility with external services, plus there will always be some bugs needing addressing. Begging the question of how such updates can reach Symbian enthusiasts across the globe.
We knew this day would come, but didn't think it would happen so soon. After January 1st, 2014, Nokia is no longer accepting either new applications or updates for existing apps into the Nokia Store. The email, sent out to all developers today, is quoted below, but my first impression is that the refusal to allow app updates is something of a contravention of Nokia's stated intent to "support Symbian until 2016". After all, without the facility to update apps to maintain compatibility with the wider world and to respond to security issues and bugs, the Symbian ecosystem is rather left in the lurch.
Guest writer Ow Kah Leong reports here on Spotify, the subscription music streaming service, which has opened its virtual doors to extra countries around the world, including Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Mexico, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Iceland. Yet Spotify is not necessarily in the Nokia Store in those countries. Of course not - that would be far too easy. All is not lost though, as Kah writes below.
Google has announced the end of life for Google Sync, which was designed to give access to Gmail, Google Calendar and Conatcts via Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync protocol. Starting from January 30th 2013, consumers will no longer be able to set up new devices using Google Sync, although existing connections will continue to function. Below, I explain what impact, if any, this will have on Symbian users.
Nokia Store, the application and game download service for Nokia's Symbian and Series 40 devices, now serves more than 16 million downloads a day and has reached a cumulative total of 6 billion downloads. Just over half the daily downloads comes from Series 40 devices, with the remaining downloads mainly coming from Symbian devices.
Good to see Nokia porting some of their newer Maps Suite back to fill out the mapping and navigation options on older devices, with today's new v2.0.3 beta release of Nokia Public Transport for all Symbian touch-driven smartphones, including now for the first time S60 5th Edition and (also, some) pre-Belle Symbian^3 smartphones. New for this release are visual improvements, coverage information and extra language localisations.
With the new QML version of the Ovi Store client now standard on Symbian^3 and upwards, it's interesting to see a brand new version of the Store client for S60 5th Edition now available, v1.22 (the previous latest was 1.16). There's no official changelog, but following new versions of the QML Store, it's likely that the new client is better 'aligned' with changes to the Nokia Store back-end.
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!
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.
The popular JoikuSpot wi-fi tethering utility for Symbian just got itself a big '2012 Edition' product update, now re-implemented in Qt and working just on Symbian Anna and Belle handsets only. More details below, but the main functional changes are better control over who connects to your phone-hosted signal and how much data they use, plus a My JoikuSpot service to keep a log of (and optionally share) when you've connected and what transpired.
Nokia's Maps team has integrated the popular 360Cities database of panoramic photos into Maps 3.6 and Maps 3.8, appearing under 'More' or 'Guides' (depending on version). You can then browse through 360 degree photos shot near you or in the location of your choice, albeit with photos presented as static 2D images rather than the interactive experience offered on the 360Cities web site.