Star Browser, last covered here on AAS, has now been signed it seems. Moreover, there's a major new version with a changelog as long as your arm. A serious competitor for Web and Opera/Opera Mini? Over to you, AAS and Symbian enthusiasts, let's evaluate it!
Recent News - Software
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!
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.
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.
As everyone's now aware, the Nokia Store (for Symbian apps) is effectively frozen as of midnight tonight. Which means no updates, no new applications - nothing at all. Of course, a lot of the content can stay as-is (and will still be downloadable), but there are bound to be updates needed in order to maintain compatibility with external services, plus there will always be some bugs needing addressing. Begging the question of how such updates can reach Symbian enthusiasts across the globe.
Do you remember I wrote recently about issues with the Xenon flash on the Lumia 1020, caused by the shutter speed being artificially slow? After doing some tests, I've noticed that the new Nokia Camera (rolling in Nokia Pro Camera and Nokia Smart Cam) is more intelligent with shutter speed when taking typical indoor/party/event shots, with photos appearing crisper and with more natural colours. In tests, clarity and colours now match or exceed those from Xenon-lit shots on the Nokia 808, previously the gold standard here.
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.
Available today is a major update, v1.7.3, to one of the biggest applications in the Symbian (and Meego) worlds - cuteTube, the YouTube (and other video services) client. The full changelogs are listed below, but the highlights are full support for Vimeo, a new 'quick search' box, and a truck load of performance improvements and fixes.
The OS that just won't die? Two years and three months after Symbian was publicly put on life support, the platform updates keep coming, with the rollout today for all Belle Refresh and Feature Pack 2 smartphones of a 6MB Email and Calendar update, incorporating better attachment and event handling, plus a new compatibility update for Nokia Music for Belle Feature Pack 2 devices. Whatever modern Symbian device you own, head for SW Update on the device, or plug into Nokia Suite.
Ah yes, Symbian, the platform that just won't die. Rolling out today are a big set of 'New homescreen widgets' for the Nokia 808 PureView and other Symbian Belle Feature Pack 1 and FP2 smartphones (i.e. the late 2011 and 2012 devices). The new platform widgets include a release version of the (previously beta) Webview, a new form of contact shortcut, a stopwatch, a front-camera 'Mirror' utility, and 'Toggle Flashlight'. More below.
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.
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.
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 Music, the online music store that has limped along with a largely web-based client for so many years, has now received a slick new Qt-based client for Symbian phones running Belle Feature Pack 2. Early updaters to FP2 may have noted that the 'Nokia Music' icon didn't do anything after updating - this not only fixes things, it provides a whole new music browsing and buying experience, screenshotted below. Proof that Nokia is still actively developing first party software on Symbian?