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 - Miscellaneous
Billed as a Christmas present to the Symbian community, the Delight Custom Firmware (CFW) team has published v1.5 of its eponymous and rather excellent custom firmware - there's nothing critical that forces anyone happy with Delight v1.4 to update, but completists and enthusiasts (like me) will want to anyway! Screenshot proof, notes, quotes and links below.
With the Nokia Store now frozen (or at least 99.99% frozen), you may be wondering if there's a reliable source for new Symbian applications and updates from January 2014 onwards... Enter contender AppList, currently an open beta, detailed below. The content is limited at the moment, but this will obviously rise as more and more curated and actively updated applications are introduced to the system. Wagons roll!
Since Delight custom firmwares came onto the Symbian scene, the most asked question of all was: when will this come to the Nokia E7 Communicator? With its full width fold out QWERTY keyboard, the E7 remains somewhat unique in the smartphone world, yet it has been held back by lack of updates from Nokia. With the arrival of Delight CFW v1.0 for the E7, the device just got itself a new lease of life.
You may remember that I'd been experimenting with Delight custom firmware on the likes of the Nokia C7? Well, the next big version of the Delight firmwares is out, simultaneously for the Nokia 808, N8 and C7, see the links below. I installed it on the Nokia 808 PureView and have been impressed so far.
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.
Today is N8 day here on AAS, launching with the news that, now available in most markets for the Symbian^3 generation devices like the Nokia N8 and E7, most of which have been successively upgraded and should now be using Belle Refresh firmware, is a 'Upload to SkyDrive' enhancement. This is a much expanded version of a photo uploader which appeared briefly a year or so ago. In this case, your contacts are also (optionally) uploaded to Microsoft's free cloud service. Screenshots and details below. Taken with the Nokia Suite changes in the last year or so, it seems that Nokia really is trying hard at last to help Symbian die hards transition over to Windows Phone and Microsoft services. How's it doing? Your comments welcome.
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.
Never mind the appallingly old YouTube client which still sits decadently in the Nokia Store (and should have been pulled years ago), it's good to see Google's YouTube HTML5 site now serving up an even better version for all mobiles, but specifically Symbian - the existing site (featured in my story here) was very fiddly to use. Screenshots of the new version are below, along with proof that the version served up for Symbian is now identical to that for Windows Phone and Android.
Nokia is pushing an application update (not a firmware update), via both the Nokia Suite desktop application and Software Update mobile app, to Symbian devices that have not yet received the Nokia Belle Refresh update. The application in question is called Homescreen Widgets, and adds a set of widgets that were seen in the Refresh update.
After the general release of Belle Refresh firmware for most of the Symbian^3/Anna generation of smartphones, firmware v111.140.0058 has started to roll out for the Nokia E6 too. Part of the delay was because this device is different in that it has a slightly higher resolution screen, with 4:3 aspect ratio, though there's probably an element of real world testing going on before Belle Refresh hits the rest of the world's E6 product codes.
In a press release this morning, Nokia has revealed plans to "sharpen its strategy, improve its operating model and return the company to profitable growth". The company will be cutting up to 10,000 jobs by the end of 2013, closing its famed Salo factory in Finland, making a series of targeted investments around location and product experiences, making changes to improve the competitiveness of its feature phone business and making chnages to its leadership team.
Nokia also updated its financial guidance for Q2 2012, indicating that competitive industry dynamics are negatively affecting its smartphone business to a greater extent than previously expected. As a result non-IFRS Devices & Services operating margin will be below the Q1 2012 level of -3%.
AAS special correspondent Ow Kah Leong takes a very first look at the retail Nokia 808 PureView, with photos and some impressions. The 808 is now on sale in his home country of Singapore, so we pressed him into service! This is just initial coverage, to whet your appetite, there will be more from him and from the regular team in due course when review units arrive.
Following last week's profits warning, Nokia has released its formal Q1 2012 Results, reporting a non-IFRS loss of EUR 260 million, on net sales of EUR 7.3 billion (down 29% YoY). Nokia's 'Devices and Services' division's loss was EUR 127 million, compared to a profit of EUR 292 million in Q4 2011). Total smartphone device sales were 11.9 million, compared with 24.2 million units in Q1 2011 (down 51% YoY) and 19.6 million units in Q4 2011 (down 39%, QoQ). Gross profit margins on smartphones in Q1 were 15.6% (down from 28.9% YoY). Quotes and comments below.
A Sunday, and April 1st at that, is an unusual day to launch a flagship product, but Nokia has done this with the new E710 Communicator. Seemingly incorporating some of the best bits of both the N8 and E7, we have, at last, a smartphone that we'll leave no Symbian fan dissatisfied. Press photos and specifications are all shown below.