Nokia and Skype – With an Open Phone it Won’t Matter

It was only a matter of time for carriers to make stink about the inclusion of Skype on the N97.  I had first read about the issue via Simon Judge and was surprised it had even take this long to be a public complaint.

Carriers will always hate things that compete with their bread and butter and when you look at the possibility of Skype operating as a voice over data service the carrier is reduced to a mere pipe.  From my perspective as an end user, I’m always looking at more opportunities for just this situation.  I don’t use any operator services currently other than the connection on on either my home broadband or mobile connections.  I have not purchased a phone from a carrier outside of the original iphone since that was released and before that it was years earlier.  When I moved to Cingular (now ATT) I only requested the SIM since I knew I knew I’d be bringing my own devices.

One might argue that Skype delivered pre-loaded on a device would greatly impact the conversion to use numbers and I can’t argue that, though I would suggest that the Skype base is strong and enthusiastic enough that installing it yourself – with or without the Ovi Store – is going to happen anyway.  As it happens there are already no shortage of VOIP options for mobile devices … Skype just happens to be BIG!

I hope Nokia does not back down on the potential for the partnership here.  If it’s really a mobile computer they are looking to sell, I should be able to use any compatible application I want to make the most of my purchase.  That is after all how computers work.

Video: Nokia E75 (Proto) Quick Overview

Nokia E75 (Proto) Quick Overview from Jonathan Greene on Vimeo.

The Nokia E75 was announced officially at Mobile World Congress recently and I’ve been fortunate to have been playing with a near release prototype of the Nokia E75 for a few weeks.

The Nokia E75 is the first Eseries device to support tri-band HSDPA and Quad Band EDGE which enables it to really cover the needs of the global traveler. I’ve used it with both TMO and ATT sim cards and found that I was able to find 3.5G signals without issues on both sides of the Atlantic. The E75 is also the first Eseries to run Feature Pack 2 which offers key some UI enhancements as well as the all important non-destructive system updates.

As you can see in the video, the E75 offers two modes of operation and let’s you choose between the standard number pad / T9 and a very full QWERTY keypad which slides out from the side. The screen auto-rotates when you open the keypad and maintains the state (as expected) of whatever operation you might have been in the midst of trying to complete. I found the keyboard to be very easy to use and would consider it one of the easier keyboards to use on the various mobile devices I’ve tried.

Nokia Messaging is integrated into the E75 and as you can see it can handle both Mail For Exchange along with your personal email accounts. I’ve been using both my work exchange account and Gmail with full push running all day. The 1000Mah battery can easily deal with this as well as my general usage which consists of email, web, maps and Joikuspot though I tend to recharge after a Joikuspot (on all devices) to make sure I can get through the day.

The E75 should will be a great device when it’s officially released later this quarter and I expect it to be very popular for people looking for a highly capable smartphone.

Samsung’s OmniaHD is seriously impressive!

In a word … WOW!

I’ve never seen this touch UI in action and love the widgets and transitions.  Samsung really shows the potential for S60 here given that it’s running on S60 5th edition like the Nokia 5800 and N97 yet with a considerably higher degreee of gloss.  I don’t have any sense of how the battery lasts through all this HD action either, but it’s certainly a gorgeous looking device!

via S60 Blogs

Nokia Messaging Gets an Update

I’ve been using Nokia Messaging since the summer across my devices and it’s definitely worth an install if you are looking for a push-like email experience.  The latest update to the service offers a tweak to your settings giving you more control on the handset as well as supporting the just announced Eseries devices.

The Nokia Messaging team has released a patch for Nokia Messaging that is available now at This patch does a few nice things, including returning APN selection in the client, the addition of the E75 and E55 to the Nokia Messaging family, and upgrading our notification system for Yahoo! Mail users. [via S60 Blogs]

If you use an Eseries device like the E71 I carry, you can get an additional mailbox on your homescreen for a dashboard into your messaging which is excellent.  All handsets benefit from the web based configuration though which lets you define your mailboxes and then have Nokia Messaging send you a configuration message which activates mail on your device.

Where are the updates to the S60 Browser?

Every day I read about new services and ways to use the Android and iPhone webkit browsers, yet there’s been no change to make some of these tools work well with the s60 software.  I can’t even open a new tab without a silly bookmark hack, and it seems there’s been little to no change in the S60 browser for a very long time.

By now, I would expect (and I don’t even think it’s that big a deal really) to be able to launch a new tab from within the browser yet there is NO way to do this.  It should be a menu item!  Once you have a few tabs open there is also NO tab management system – they can only be displayed in the order in which they’ve been opened.

I originally blogged about this in the fall of 2007.  Since that time, we’ve seen a number of new devices, a revised OS and yet the browser is still the exact same thing.  I’m sure someone will correct me that the actual version number (undetectable to users) has changed, but there is nothing new here.  I asked about this feature at Nokia World and did not see it in the N97 prototype shared with us over dinner either unfortunately.

My initial hack involves using a start page that forces new windows to spawn (like though today I use a homescreen shortcut to a bookmark of about:blank.  If you drop to either your multimedia menu or the homescreen and use that, it will force a new windows to open.

If you are going to talk about the full internet in a pocketable mobile computer, we should also recognize that it’s quite likely you’ll be multitasking across several web sites at once and need a simple (and standard!) way to open a new tab.  Why is the Nokia Internet Tablet the only device that does this?

Windows 7 “Plays to” DLNA Standards while Apple keeps it closed – as usual

While this feature is not currently in the open beta, Play To highlights Windows 7 ability to be both a control point and server in a DLNA network.  What’s so awesome about this is that a ton of devices already have this baked in and Windows 7 can auto-discover them as well as present itself to them.  It’s great to see how easily this system works with existing media devices and formats.

Seeing this feature though also raises the obvious opposite perspective from Apple’s model.  The iTunes system ONLY works with itself.  Sure it works on both Macs and PC’s but there is no way without some hacking to get your AppleTV to play with other sources.  Even then it does not function as a DLNA UPnP device like what was shown in the video.  There’s no way to share media from my Nokia Handset to my television without first syncing to my desktop and then copying – through iTunes – over to the AppleTV.

Apple’s closed system certainly simplifies the consumer experience though that’s only due to the substantially limited perspective on how we are allowed to share media in the home.  I have many more things captures media than just those made by Apple … and I know I’m not alone.

Thanks to eHomeUpgrade for the tip.

Nokia Chat becomes Contacts on Ovi

Nokia Beta Labs has updated / rebranded the Nokia Chat client into Contacts on Ovi and released versions for all devices except the S60 5th Edition platform which is really only the 5800 for today.  Nokia Chat and now Contacts on Ovi really is a great way to do IM on the go.  Aside from the simple IM handling you can also broadcast your location, send locations to friends and even send a voice message (gone in Contacts on Ovi).  In the latest version, you can also share your current music track much like on a desktop IM client.

What’s new, apart from the brand? I’ll have to first say that the
clients are in a better shape, we’ve resolved lots of bugs that have
been bothering you and us too. Secondly, we’re supporting lots of more
devices now. The new platform we have a client for is S60 3rd Edition
Feature Pack 2. It’s about time, right? We wanted it to look better,
and have more features in it. With the new client available for the
latest models you’ll be able to broadcast the music you listen as a
part of your personal message (for those of you that are in to XMPP,
I’ll just give out that it’s using the PEP extension, which you’ll find
supported in some PC clients too).  [Nokia Beta Labs]

More N85 and Device Stage

I got a question on how I had tried the N85 connection to my Windows 7 system and did some more exploration in order to better understand how it works. My usual habit is to select PC Suite when prompted on my phones as they connect to my machines. I’ve done that but also gone through the other modes of the phone to compare the differences Windows 7 presents.

If you are not familiar with the Nokia set up, when you connect to a computer, you are prompted to choose a mode which gives your computer a better sense about what you might want to do and then the appropriate apps know how to communicate. The options are PC Suite, Mass Transfer Mode, Image Transfer Mode and Media Transfer Mode. What follows are the on-screen prompts from Windows for each mode.

PC Suite:

2009-01-22_1923 - N85 in PC Suite in Windows 7

Mass Transfer Mode:

2009-01-22_1922 - N85 Mass Storage in Win 7

Image Transfer Mode:

2009-01-22_1925 - N85 in Image Transfer in Windows 7

Media Transfer Mode:

2009-01-22_1927 N85 Media Transfer in Windows 7 - zoomed

The Device Stage clearly kicks in when you connect in Media Transfer mode which I supposed I should have realized last time I tried this since as noted earlier Device Stage really picks up where the MTP (Media Transfer Protocol) left off in XP and Vista.

The other bonus about Media Transfer mode is that the devices stay pinned while connected in the Task Bar which is a very powerful option given the options within the right-click menu.

Right clicked on the N85:

2009-01-22_1949 - N85 right click in taskbar in windows 7

To give you an even richer sense about how this works, I’ve captured a screencast though admittedly it’s a bit jerky. The actual experience was smooth … unlike this video.

Nokia N85 on the Windows 7 Device Stage

As a follow-up to my previous post on the Windows 7 Device Stage, I spent a bit of time today exploring further and discovered that the Nokia N85 is in fact supported by the Windows 7 Device Stage.


In order to see the Device Stage today you need to navigate to the Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Devices and Printers> and then click on the Nokia N85.   The options are focused on support with links to the manual, additional S60 applications, product info on as well as a link to Ovi, Nokia Services.

When you connect the N85 over USB you get the standard AutoPlay option.  I’m not sure if there’s a way around that, though for now given the limited As you can see from the offering inside the Device Stage for this device, I’m not really missing anything.  In fact looking at the AutoPlay options there’s quite a bit more function there. While the Device Stage seems to be centered around support for the N85, Autoplay enables some real actions you might want to take.


E71 Firmware updated

2009-01-13_2159 - Updating the E71

Last night before bed, I saw the news and updated my E71 to firmware v200.21.118.  If I’m not mistaken, this is by far the quickest we’ve seen a NAM update following the EMEA release.  Excellent!

I’ve been restoring my applications today and so far so good.  I love the two new black and red themes … and see Internet Radio is now baked in along with MyNokia though I’ve yet to see the sign-up prompt.

Firmware updates on the E71 erase everything, so please do a backup if you want to try and retain your existing info.  I tend to just move forward rather than restore from backup, but that’s me …

N79 Active – Heart Monitoring Sport Fitness Combo

The rumored Polar Bluetooth Wearlink revealed itself today as part of a new Nokia bundle combining the new N79 Active with an armband for sports use.  Sportstracker is the key application keeping score and if desired even geo-tagging your media as you go.  I love this idea and look forward to checking it out when it’s released.

Update – Press Release is here.  Looks like it will be 375 Euros …

Ovi Suite – Syncing Smoothly in Windows 7

One issue I’ve had running Windows 7 was Nokia’s PC Suite refuses to install due to some privilege issues.  I’ve tried a few tricks and it seems it’s just going to fail.  The good news is that Ovi Suite installs just fine (except for Nokia Music  which I will have to try separately in compatibility mode) and brings a sleek UI and connections to the portal.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that my E71 was also able to connect even though it is not listed as a supported device.  The E71 will actually only sync PIM data for the moment though … no media sync through Ovi Suite until it’s eventually supported (right Nokia??).

The real benefit though is that I now have a simple way to connect to my phone for a data connection which is something I do daily during my commute.  I know there are other options but prefer DUN over Joikuspot or Walking Hotspot for a 2 device connection as the connection seems to just work better.

As you can see in the image above, my N79 is syncing while I’m typing this.  I’ll give the rest of the suite a whirl over the next few days, but having this working is a big bonus running Windows 7!

The almost status of Nokia Software Checker

Ricky beat me to blogging this, but I also had the same experience using the Nokia Software Checker on the N79. Nokia Software Checker appears on the newer Feature Pack 2 devices (N79, N85) and appears to be an application who’s sole purpose is to schedule checks against the firmware database.

In theory this is a very handy thing as having the latest software on your mobile tends to deliver new features and most importantly bug fixes.  Updating firmware via FP2 is a simple non-destructive process so updating to the latest software is also painless.  

Back to the Nokia Software Checker … I noticed this application on the N79 first and decided to try it last week.  After pinging the Nokia server, I was told there was an update (not what update) and suggested I connect to my PC to run the software updater there instead of prompting me to check right on the device.  Over the air updates are a key feature on these new devices and I was surprised to see it not referenced.  I tried the OTA update anyway (homescreen > *#0000# > check for updates) and was told there was no new software available.

I’m not sure why there is a disconnect between the two applications and the database online here, but this is not a good way to create a positive user experience.  I’ve not had the chance to try an update from my PC yet but I’m guessing that the software update via PC and Phone are in sync and that it’s the Nokia Software Checker that’s out of alignment.

Cisco to Push into Home Electronics – Why?

I get and respect Cisco’s desire to dig deeper into the home, but I am not convinced that a piece of consumer electronics gear is the way to to do it.  According to the NYT, Cisco is looking to develop a “a digital stereo system that is meant to move music wirelessly around a house.”

I can’t help but wonder why Cisco is not simply focusing on enabling the connectivity and distribution piece on the network rather than going for the end-point.  I’d rather have something neutral that provides access to content (and not just music btw) where I want it – whether that’s in my house or pushed out to my mobile device.  The limited info on the upcoming Cisco product seems to limit the usefulness to a connected audio component.  These typically sit in your stereo rack connected to your home network and stream content through as through it was in your audio player.   Sounds a lot like Sonos, AppleTV and quite a few other boxes that have been sold with considerably less success.

There’s no magic bullet here.  In order to get your entertainment connected and distributed you need to have a way to either view or here it in every room which means cables or wireless kit.  We chose the wired route and centralized most of the equipment into a couple of racks beneath the basement stairs.  Each room in our home in which we planned for AV has speakers installed in-wall we’re able to select any source from any room.

My original AppleTV recently had it’s brain expanded through Boxee and now can play both the (limited) protected content we have from iTunes as well as any other file we happen to have accessible.  Cisco is going to have to win over Apple unfortunately in order to earn access to the iTunes ecosystem and I just don’t see that happening anytime soon either.  So far, the standard fault of every media streamer is that it can’t play iTunes DRM … I don’t see how Cisco’s solution solves any of this.  Another box to setup and futz around with as a source?  No thanks.

I was given a demo of the Nokia Home Control Center solution at Nokia World and it will take a very different approach.  Instead of trying to provide a streaming end point, Nokia is shooting for a more centralized role in your home and one that I frankly would have expected from Cisco.

Nokia Internet Stick CS-10 – Almost

Nokia Internet Stick CS-10

The Nokia Internet Stick CS-10 made a quiet appearance at Nokia World earlier this month and the news piqued my interest. Though after a quick check I saw it only supports the 850/2100MHz bands which is a real bummer unlike other higher end 3G modems which also add in 1900MHz for tri-band world compatibility this Nokia device will be hard to consider for purchase.

The 850MHz band is something that tends to appear in a more limited capacity here in the States, though this device should be just fine if you only travel in Europe.

Quick N85 and N79 Photo Test

Just getting going with both the new devices and decided to snap a quick picture following breakfast today …

First the N85:

12/24/2008 - N85 Close Mode Pancakes

And now the N79:

12/24/2008 - N79 Close Mode Pancakes

Aside from the “pilot error” in focusing on slightly different parts of the plate, I’d call this pretty even. Both devices offer Carl Zeiss 5MP AutoFocusing optics and response time is excellent. The N85 had a much easier time acquiring my position over A-GPS, but that’s thanks to AT&T vs the T-Mobile TZones connection of my other SIM card.

Nokia’s Mark Selby Interviewed on TelecomTV

Mark is VP Industry Collaborations for Nokia and a very well spoken guy and definitely worth a watch. In this interview Mark talks about his role collaborating in our evolving mobile world. Who owns the customer is a particularly interesting topic discussed.

The Nokia Facebook application … that’s just a bookmark

Not Facebook

If you regularly check the Download application on your Nokia devices you might have recently seen the addition of Facebook as I did. I was pretty excited to see this as I’ve been expecting something since Nokia and Facebook announced a relationship many moons ago …

To my disappointment, however, the Facebook “application” downloaded and installed yet when launched, my web browser opened and I was taken to the existing site I already have bookmarked! I have to say I find this type of thing a tad deceptive as it totally misinforms the consumer experience and could probably have been solved with a tweak in the firmware update I recently completed. If the goal was to get me in the browser why not just add the bookmark automatically …

Facebook is not the first time I’ve seen this. Nokia’s own MOSH service installed in the same manner … only opening the browser. The only advantage I can see to this method of installation (ahem) is that I can choose the bookmark as an application from Handy Taskman and also easily add it as a homescreen shortcut. Of course, as expected this does not see the open tab I’ve already got going for Facebook and just opens another … further wasting my time and reducing system resources.

It’s hard not to be critical of this stuff … it’s lame.

Mail for Exchange is NOT enterprise ready

I’ve had Mail for Exchange running on my E71 for about 6 months now … essentially since I got it over the summer. In that time, I have had to either create new a profile or re-install the application dozens of times. For some reason the my profile data seems to get lost and the E71 stops syncing with Exchange.

I’m not clear on what causes this problem and I’ve seen it across two versions of Mail for Exchange as well as firmware updates for the E71. I know this is a DIY Solution rather than something implemented (or required) by IT so I’m somewhat on my own, but our IT team has also seen the same things. We use Exchange 2007 and there are never issues like this with Blackberries in the company.

This type of application / service needs to just work. Once configured there should not be any thought required other than how well and consistently it syncs.