Starting off (in the smartphone world) with Series 60 (on Symbian) handsets, transitioning through Windows Phone 7.x phones, and ending up on Android, LG has officially closed its Mobile division, with the short statement quoted below. It's been a rocky road for LG, but even back in the mid 2000s at the Symbian shows, I never really felt their heart was in it, at least in terms of selling to - and supporting - the West. Some thoughts and a few looks back below.
Recent News - Series 60
You've got to love someone who respects the past. Sergejs Cuhrajs, as guest writer on Nokia Connects, has put up a heart felt and perspective-laden look at one of this (and my) favourite Nokia designs ever, the first real 'transformer' phone, the N90. This was the first Nokia smartphone to feature Carl Zeiss optics and its form factor remains almost unique even today.
It appears that Google has finally withdrawn its official Gmail client, written in Java, for Symbian smartphones. Version 2.06 hadn't been updated for two years and I'm guessing that changes at the server end meant that at some point in the near future the client was going to stop working anyway. To avoid complaints, Google has simply pulled the download page for the client. A shame, given that many on S60 3rd Edition phones still use it and would have liked the option to re-install it when needed (though see the PS below).
Andrew Orlowski's posts on Psion, Nokia and Symbian over at The Register are often a rollicking read, especially for geeks interested in Symbian's past. This five page article is all about Hildon, the UI (and indeed 'platform', or so argues the piece) that was evolved to Series 90, used in the Nokia 7710, and which underpinned a revamped Series 80, used in the Nokia 9500 and 9300. One for Symbian historians, definitely!
A free exhibition is currently running at the London Design Museum (28 Shad Thames, London SE1), entitled, 'People Made - Nokia products that changed the world' and tells the 'inside story of Nokia - past, present and future'. The exhibition is free to enter, but is only running from October 28th to November 2nd, leaving you three days to go along and take a look.
There's a nice article by Aatif Sumar over on ZOMGit'sCJ looking in detail at Nokia Mobile Money, announced two years ago but now seemingly arrived, at least in India, as a Java application compatible with S60 3rd Edition smartphones (and presumably S40 and other devices too, right up to the latest Symbian handsets).
Nokia Beta Labs has announced a new project entitled Nokia Nearby. Aimed at emerging markets, it aims to provide ‘hyper local search’ capability, especially for devices not supported by Nokia Maps. Nokia Nearby is a Java application which runs on almost all S60 and S40 devices; with an emphasis on the latter. Utilizing network-based location, it doesn’t require GPS. The application allows you to search by category or name, and add locations to a list of favourites. Read on for a demonstration and download link.
Mac owners who enjoy bullet-proof syncing from iCal and Address Book with their Nokia/Symbian smartphone(s) should note that upgrading to the latest (and new) OS X Lion operating system will yield at least one unpleasant surprise: Apple has removed all trace of iSync, the phone-sync application that has had wide manufacturer compatibility. Happily there's a workaround.
Following on from last week's episode, which focused on Windows Phone Mango, here is the seventh episode of the 361 Degrees podcast. This week it's a nostalgia fest as we remember devices we've owned and that we think have helped shaped the industry. 361 Degrees is a podcast all about mobile technology, created by Ben Smith of Wireless Worker and co-hosted by Ewan MacLeod of Mobile Industry Review and Rafe Blandford of All About Symbian.
[sarcasm alert] I had to chuckle when I saw this blog post on one of my favourite sites about a third party extension to Android, enabling - shock, horror, amazement - folders, to organise one's applications. Maybe the developers are copying Apple, who famously added folders for applications earlier this year in their fourth iteration of the iPhone OS? That must be it. They couldn't possibly be copying what Nokia and Symbian has had since (ahem) 2002, eight years ago, could they? See below for the appropriate Android 'Folder Organizer' screenshots...
Well worth bookmarking for late evening reading over a beer or two is Andrew Orlowski's epic two part essay on the history of Symbian from creation in 1998 up to near the present day. Interviewing a number of past employees, admittedly, there's a strong aftertaste of 'these are all the bits that went wrong' and there's little in the way of acknowledgement of success stories, but Orlowski's text is readable and well researched. Here's part one: Dark Star, covering Symbian's creation and here's part two: The battle for Symbian's soul.
My day just got off to a potentially great start. Opera has just released a beta of their proxy-based (read time and money saving) Opera Mini web browser for all Symbian phones. And not just for these phones, but written as a native Symbian application and not as a Java application, so we're talking faster startup times and smoother browsing. Plus you can now switch all text input to use your phone's native system, even T9. And compatibility is, amazingly, right back to Series 60 (effectively S60 2nd Edition). With Web receiving criticism for slow handling of huge web pages, Opera Mini 5.1 beta on Symbian impresses by being many times faster than any native browser on any platform. Some screenshots, links and details below.
From AAS's department of the bleedin' obvious come comments from me after looking into data from the last ten years in the Symbian world, looking at screen sizes across a range of form factors and interfaces (including Series 80 and UIQ). Yes, form factors are gradually converging, and yes, screens are getting larger. No real surprise there then, but I thought you might be interested in the charts themselves below...
Hopefully you will have seen Steve’s posting about Lucian Tomuta’s video on using Qt to develop apps for Symbian devices. If, however, your computer runs on Linux or Apple you may have run into a small problem, there is no compiler for Symbian apps on these platforms. But never fear, there is a solution. Read on ...
In leaps and bounds, the term 'smartphone' is being bandied about by manufacturers, analysts, journalists, developers and end users across the world. Which would normally be a good thing, except that there are many definitions, all totally different. What exactly defines a smartphone in 2010? What did it used to mean in 2007? Or 2003? With reports regularly quoting the word, it would be good to all agree what the word means, surely?