Back in March 2020, so just under two years ago, Planet Computers launched the Indiegogo campaign for the Astro Slide 5G, the follow up to the Gemini and Cosmo Communicators, all with full mechanical QWERTY keyboards. While the latter two were more akin to the old Psion palmtop or Nokia Communicator form factors, i.e. clamshells, the Astro Slide 5G is similar to the classic 2010 Nokia E7 (on Symbian), with an external full touchscreen that slides out of the way when needed to reveal, in this case, the famous QWERTY key layout. We've been getting drip fed news from the Planet team over the last 12 months, so here's my round-up and summary.
Recent News - Links of Interest
News from our far flung contact Michael "Mivas_Greece" about continued activity in the Symbian world - all entirely user-driven these days, of course. But worthy of note for anyone still playing (or even using day to day) Symbian. There's loads below for onward fun, including the linked site subtitle 'Symbian isn't dead yet'!
Some phones never die. And the Nokia 808 is still going strong in some hands, thanks mainly to the untiring work of developers of custom firmware, who get around broken servers and certificates to keep an unsupported platform functioning in 2020. Here's news of a brand new version of Delight CFW for the Nokia 808.
Long time AAS readers will remember the Nokia N93, a unique multi-form factor smartphone with a barrel camera that included a genuine continuous 1-3x zoom lens system. It worked superbly, at least in good light, with the caveat that the reduced aperture when zoomed meant that evening and night shots suffered. Partly because of this, Nokia (and then the world) moved to computational photography and smart cropping into large, high megapixel sensors in order to try and zoom without the same degree of aperture loss, cuminating in 2012's Nokia 808 and 2013's Lumia 1020. But now comes news that a continuous zoom lens system may be making a come back, 14 years on from the N93...
After the disappointment of the oddball 'Nokia 9 PureView', compared recently here to the Nokia 808 and Lumia 1020 (etc), Nokia (at least the new Nokia brand under HMD) has now announced another contender, this time with a more conventional PureView 48MP f/1.8 sensor - phew! The X71 is only just shown in China and will probably arrive in Europe as the 'Nokia 8.1 Plus', in a few months time. But with 3.5mm jack, expandable storage and capacitive fingerprint sensor (all missing in the '9') as well, plus the single large sensor configuration (plus wide-angle), this possibly is the PureView phone you're looking to move to?
The SIStore team, the most active developer team in the Symbian world, has just released - as a Christmas present to the world(!) - a whole new Delight Custom FirmWare (CFW) OS release for these three popular Nokia smartphones from the 2010-2012 era. All the details are below, though note that I personally haven't installed this, so the usual caveats apply in terms of risk. Mind you, if your six to eight year old smartphone's in need of updates and a complete refresh then look no further!
This is a Delight custom firmware release that many have been asking for - the Nokia 701. This device didn't get released as widely as the Nokia 808 but has many positive attributes, as listed here in my comparison with the Nokia N8. And 701 owners on AAS have been (literally) crying out for the Delight custom firmware to take them away from Nokia's ceased firmware track and onto something more dynamic and with far more benefits. Step in the Delight team with some welcome news.
We're now firmly into 2014, Nokia is never going to issue another firmware for devices like the classic N8 - and probably never even another SW_update patch. So there's nothing to lose and everything to gain by experimenting with custom firmware. This is the first time my much beloved N8 has veered off the 'stock Nokia' trail, but it's already enjoying the extra space and extra speed of a great CFW.
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.
Big software house Digia has announced that it has 'signed an agreement to acquire Qt software technologies and Qt business from Nokia'. Once the acquisition is completed, Digia will become responsible for all the Qt activities formerly carried out by Nokia, including product development, licensing and service. Digia 'plans to quickly enable Qt on the Android, iOS and Windows 8 platforms'. As part of the transaction, a maximum of 125 people from Nokia will transfer to Digia, mostly based in Oslo, Norway and Berlin, Germany.
No, 'NFC Interactor' isn't a new smartphone particle weapon plug-in, it's actually a cool diagnostic for tag-reading purposes and an even cooler tool to let you write your own NFC tags, should you have some that are unlocked and writeable. And remember that if NFC is all Greek to you, check out my NFC Primer. NFC Interactor is cool in another way, too, in that it's one of the first Symbian applications to use in-app purchasing via the Nokia Store.
Nokia has published a video on YouTube, which in its description urges people to "stay tuned for the latest news from Nokia at Mobile World Congress". The video doesn't give much away, but with captions like "pure detail", "pure depth", "pure definition" and a title of "get ready to capture a pure view" speculation will inevitably focus around a high-end camera phone successor to the N8.
It was interesting to see various sites round the web today linking to dial-a-phone's comparison of the camera results from the new Sony Xperia S and the Nokia N8, especially given the conclusion that the newcomer is the 'clear winner'. However, such comparisons are more than a little misleading - there's far more to testing out a phone camera than shots of still subjects in bright....
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.