Nokia's Ovi Store got a few upgrades today, notably a fuzzy search system incorporating 'Did you mean?' functionality for coping with spelling errors - all too easy to do when typing in application names and getting pluralisation or punctuation wrong. Nokia has also added Arabic and Hindi support to the Store for Series 40 users, a significant boost to potential application sales and distribution in the Middle East and India, with Arabic also rolling out to Symbian users as well very shortly.
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Nokia are proud of the Ovi Store, it’s gaining traction, there are more downloads every day, and I don’t begrudge them the right to shout about any success whenever they want. So the list of “Top Ovi Store Games” on the Conversations Blog is exactly what I’d expect. And hopefully Nokia are fully aware that we're going to look at this post and ask the question “nice list, but how about some context?”
Developers looking to experiment with the latest Qt Mobility API should direct their attention to Nokia's Qt Labs, where a technology preview release of Qt Mobility 1.2 was announced during the Christmas break. The primary focus of the 1.2 release is delivering backend support for MeeGo. However, there are also some new features, which will be of interest to both MeeGo and Symbian developers. A beta release of Qt Mobility 1.2 will follow this technology preview at the end of January.
Swype, an alternative text entry system based on finger 'swipes', now supports additional languages. A number of language packs have been released for both the S60 5th Edition and Symbian^3 versions of Swype and are now available via Nokia Beta Labs. Additionally an updated version of Swype, for Nokia's S60 5th Edition, has been released, which fixes a number of bugs. An updated version for Symbian^3 will appear in the Ovi Store in the near future.
Nokia has just announced that interested parties can now make requests (by email) for FTP logins for its hosted Symbian Foundation content. This information includes: source code of the current Symbian platform, documentation, and PDK's. This has been announced via the new Symbian blog (hosted by Nokia) at symbian.nokia.com. The blog post also reports that Nokia is working to make more available via the Symbian website. It also encourages Symbian developers to look at its sister site Forum Nokia for information about current development frameworks, C++ and Qt.
A small 'Apps update' for Symbian^3 phones is now available via the Sw Update application. The update, which is around 1MB in size, 'improves the stability of phone applications'. The update is available for the Nokia N8, Nokia C7 and Nokia C6-01. However it may take a little time to become available for all variants, in all countries.
There's a superb article published today over on Mobile R'n'R by Rita el-Khoury, listing the ten things you should do first with a new Symbian smartphone to ensure you get the very best experience, from replacing the browser and social clients to automating and customising the look and feel. This is one to bookmark and recommend to friends who are eying up the likes of the Nokia N8 and C7, methinks....
Nokia Beta Labs have today announced a new version of Nokia Email for S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 2 phones. This new release is intended for those who have either had problems with the current version or want to try out the latest features. Most notable among those new features is the ability to display HTML email, just like Nokia Messaging on Nokia's touch screen phones. Read on for our experience of the upgrade.
I haven't linked to the Phones Show Chat podcast for a long time, but show 70, released a few minutes ago, ended up being something of a Symbian special. We'd invited James Burland on, of Nokia Creative fame but latterly a big iPhone fan, to try and 'up' the iPhone content, but it turns out he's a recent Nokia N8 convert, so there's an especially strong Symbian flavour to the show, which runs to 1 hour 10 mins. Also in the show are musings on Nokia breaking America (or not) and discussion over ever-increasing screen sizes.
An interesting question from Jeff Pulver on his blog – should our phones have a “dumb” mode that allows nothing but phone calls to come through? The goal of course is to reduce needless accidents as people text, browse and generally use their phone to communicate and distract them from driving (see also AOL’s The Last Text campaign).
Matt Miller, writing at Nokia Experts, shares the news that Slacker Radio, an interactive radio service, will soon be available for Nokia's Symbian^3 handsets. Slacker Radio allows users to create custom radio stations based on artists or songs. Slacker Radio, which is currently only available in the US and Canada, will be available through the Ovi Store and Slacker's website in February. Supported handsets will include the Nokia N8 and other Symbian^3 handsets.
Skype has announced that it plans to acquire Qik. Qik provides software which allows you to instantly capture and share (live stream) video on a mobile phone. Qik is available for more than 200 mobile phones, including most Symbian devices. Skype say they share "a common purpose of enriching communications with video" with Qik, but Qik's technology, focused around optimising video transition over mobile networks, will also give Skype's mobile aspirations a boost.
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 Big Screen, available through Nokia Beta Labs, provides a UI optimised for viewing media via HDMI-out, effectively turning devices like the Nokia N8 and E7 into portable media centres. Nokia Big Screen can be used to view photos and video and listen to music. Additional features include support for video subtitles and audio lyrics (karaoke style). For the best user experience, Nokia Big Screen can be used in conjunction with a Bluetooth remote control device (any HID device), such as Nintendo's Wiimote.
January is traditionally one of the quietest periods of the year for smartphone purchases. However if you are in the market price points have never been lower. For example, the C6-01, the mid tier Symbian^3 handset, can currently be purchased for £210 on PAYG in the UK. Similarly, at the low end of the market, the Nokia 5228 is currently available on PAYG for just £50. This downward pressure on smartphone prices is nothing new.