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 - Services
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.
I reported a while back that cuteTube had ceased working because of YouTube's deprecation of its v2 APIs - happily I can now report that the next-gen CuteTube 2 is now available and works fully with YouTube and other video streaming sites. See below for screenshot proof. Existing cuteTube owners can simply upgrade by letting the in-app upgrade download happen and then installing the new client from Files or similar.
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.
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!
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 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.