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.
Recent News - Services
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 today announced the forthcoming availability, in Q4 2011, of a number of Microsoft-developed business and productivity applications for the Symbian Belle platform. The update will include a number of new applications (OneNote, PowerPoint Broadcaster, Document Connection) and updates to existing applications (Lync 2010 and Exchange Active Sync), which will provide improved integration with Microsoft's business software and service offerings. Read on for more detail.
Nokia has announced that it plans to close web-based access to Ovi Calendar at the end of August. The sync service will continue to be available, but will now only operate as a backup for data. This means it will no longer be possible to view or edit calendar information through the Ovi.com website. Nokia says this was a business decision and that it "will help us to concentrate on our core service offerings". In reality, the decision is likely driven by the low numbers of active users of the web-based portion of the service.
A new beta version of Nokia Maps, 3.08, has been released through Nokia Beta Labs, which brings a number of changes to the Drive (car navigation) functionality of the application. The most important of these is the ability to use live traffic information to automatically route you around traffic jams and other delays. There's also a new look and feel to the user interface (including a "Just drive" mode), the ability to set a contact as a destination and an easier to use Settings menu. The new beta also marks the brand switch from the Ovi Maps to Nokia Maps.
Synchronica, a UK based company that provides mobile messaging solution, is to acquire Nokia's operator branded messaging business. This business provides a number of American operators with branded email and IM applications and services. In addition, under a professional services contract (outsourcing), Synchronica will take over the development of the related Series 40 client software and the messaging gateway, which is used by both Series 40 and Symbian devices.
Nokia's Ovi Store is continuing to grow at a rapid pace; it recently passed the 6 million downloads per day mark and now contains more than 48,000 content items, with approximately 1,000 news items being added each week. Symbian phones make up approximately 75% of the downloads (4.5 million), with Series 40 accounting for most of the remaining downloads (1.5 million). A total of 1.8 billion content items have been downloaded since June 2009.
Nokia has announced that it plans to integrate its NAVTEQ business with its social location (Maps) services and operations. The new Location & Commerce business unit, which will be headed by Michael Halbherr, is tasked with developing the next generation of social location products and services for consumers. It will also continue with NAVTEQ's traditional activities of building platform services for device manufacturers, developers and service providers, but will look to more fully integrate Nokia's deep data assets around consumer behaviour and related community data.
At a Strategy and Financial Briefing, which takes place at 10 am GMT on February 11th Nokia's CEO, Stephen Elop, is expected to outline his vision for the future strategy of the company. Rafe will be reporting live from Intercontinental Park Lane Hotel, London, where the event is taking place. You can follow our live coverage using this story or via our Twitter accounts (@aas and @allaboutmeego).
A recent post of the Nokia Beta Labs blog indicates that Nokia will be discontinuing its augmented reality test-bed application - Nokia Point and Find. However it goes onto say that the underlying augmented reality (and visual search) technology will be incorporated into "the future of key experiences like Maps and Search". The technology may also become available to third party developers, presumably through a service API or similar provision.
Nokia's Social networking application for its Symbian^3 devices (so far, the Nokia N8 and Nokia C7) has been updated to version 1.2. The most notable update is the ability to upload and share images and videos to social networks (Twitter and Facebook) directly from the Photos and Camera applications. Additionally, the overall UI of the application has been improved, with easier finger touch interaction and the use of larger font sizes (thankfully). Also updated is the homescreen widget and the process to link social network profiles to entries in the Contacts application.
Nokia's UK music service, Ovi Music, is now DRM-free in its pay-per-track store. Nokia started switching its music stores last year; while new country launches moved straight to the DRM-free version, existing countries have been switched over only gradually. Ahead of next week's Nokia World and the launch of the N8, Nokia is moving over most of the remaining countries to the new version of the service, where there are no restrictions on how and when you play any of your music downloads.
In All About Symbian Insight 134, we start with news of new, community created Samsung i8910 firmware, which leads to a discussion of Samsung's mobile platform choices. Rafe discusses the Ovi Files closure and talks about how the thinking behind Nokia's Ovi service strategy has evolved. David shares his PixelPipe Send and Share experiences, before bringing news of UK operator Orange's HD Voice service. Ewan talks about Swype, an alternative text input entry system, which is now available in beta. Finally, Steve gives his first opinion on the Nokia E5.
Orange UK have announced a new service called HD Voice, which will give superior audio call quality over its 3G network on selected phones. Available free of charge, the service will initially be available to a small set of phones; Nokia's 5230, X6 and E5, plus the Samsung Omnia Pro. Having listened to test calls, it is a vast improvement, but not quite up to the claimed "Crystal Clear" quality as claimed. Click through to read our commentary.
Nokia Experts reports that Ovi Files, Nokia's remote file access and cloud-based file mirroring/storage solution, will be discontinued on October 1st. The announcement is a set back to Nokia's Ovi service ambitions, but with relatively few users and low awareness, the long-term impact is likely to be small. A number of third party services, such as SugarSync and DropBox, provide a similar service for those who need to move from Ovi Files.