Finally, Skype have released a beta client for a host of mobile phones, including the Nokia N95. It works neatly, although it isn’t a native Symbian application, having been written in Java. Didn’t take too much to set up, although I haven’t been able to test it yet (unlike the normal Skype client, there is no test call facility). This could be very handy if I can get a few people onto it, and once I have I will report back.
Comes with Music is a long-awaited Nokia product for its phones which allows their customers to download for free songs from several of the major labels. It is also rumoured to have been Steve Job’s preferred model for iTunes, that never quite came together. I’ve heard rumours myself that it will only come on a few new models of phone, rather than be released for all Nokia phones in one fell swoop. I hope not. I’d quite like the reward for having my N95.
Anyways, paidcontent.org detail what they know of the deal Nokia have made with Universal:
Quick review and comparison by Symbian-Guru of the Sony W960 and the Nokia N95. Interested me because someone had asked me about the relative merits of both phones, as they wanted something with an FM tuner built-in, which meant they wouldn’t consider an iPhone. I couldn’t deal with transfer speeds like the W960 is described as having, I need to do a quick sync in the morning before I go to work, so I have all my podcasts up to date. Sounds like I would never get to work on time if I had the Sony.
Last week Apple announced its software development kit for the iPhone. The demo and announcement was generally met with enthusiasm, especially with demos of Super Monkey Ball being shown off, interoperability with Microsoft Exchange, and many other examples being shown alongside it to help underline the potential of the platform.
However, with a little hindsight some people are now seeing flaws with the agreements required for the SDK, and the cut that Apple will get from sales. Alexander Wolfe at informationweek.com outlines some of the anger at Apple’s tight control over the SDK. It was expected already that apps would only be available through iTunes. However Apple are also charging $99 for the full documentation for the SDK (a more rudimentary version is available for free), and then 30% of any revenue on applications sold through the iTunes store (however apps can be distributed through it for free if they themselves are free).
This contrasts sharply with the attitude of other mobile platforms. Symbian and Google Android have no such restrictions, and there certainly is no restricted marketplace for Windows Mobile apps. Apple are very much in contrast to the rest of the market on this. There certainly is a lively developer community for Symbian and Windows Mobile, and Android is starting off well. I don’t think it will be a barrier to entry for the bigger developers, but I think it could affect the smaller dev companies or individuals. I’ve seen some fantastic apps on Symbian that might not have existed if the student developer was being charged for the means of getting full access to the OS.
The iPhone as a platform is clearly very well designed with a lot of potential for both creativity and making hard cash, but I do wonder if shunning the true open source software approach may damage its potential for some real cutting edge development.
Interesting announcement from Nokia of Yamake, a user-generated games tool for the soon-to-be-launched-properly N-Gage platform. Basically, they provide the base for the game, the user can upload images and sounds, and alter text to turn them into their own game. Will have a look into this and investigate, could be a fun tool to play with.
Slightly behind on my RSS feeds, I’ve just found out that Nokia have announced the successor to the N95, the imaginatively named Nokia N96. It looks nice, they’ve recessed the controls a little, given it a darker sleeker look. Headline features are an expandable 16GB memory and a larger screen (2.8 inches over the N95s 2.6). It is a few millimetres longer, but a couple slimmer. It will use the same battery, so there are a few mutterings on the Nokia and Symbian blogs that it won’t particularly improve the battery life.
Overall it looks like a style improvement, but no massive advantage over the N95 other than memory. Of course there could be some tweaks to the spec before release, but there isn’t going to be a touchscreen or anything really exciting.
An interesting new beta app from Nokia, the Location Tagger uses GPS to add in your precise location to the EXIF data of photos you take on your phone. I’ve tested this out on the N95, and it does work, although within the limitations of the GPS in general (i.e. it can be rather slow to find your position, and it’s not likely to work inside). Nokia are suggesting they will in time add this functionality to their general camera software. The initial suggestion seemed to be that it would add this info as geotags for Flickr, but that doesn’t seem to happen yet. Worth playing about with though, good little app.
Spicebird is an open-source collaboration suite. Simply put, it is built on Mozilla’s Thunderbird code, and also includes calendars, instant messaging, notes, contacts, feed reading and an old-school news reader. It look nice, is well put-together thus far, has a lot of integration with Google applications such as gmail and calendar, and is shaping up nicely. It isn’t there yet, you can only use Jabber (including Google Talk) with it thus far, you can only import Google Calendars thus far, but I’m in the market for something that I can stealthily replace Lotus Notes with on Linux, and this has some potential.
I’ve tested Spicebird out quickly, it works on 64 bit Kubuntu without much complaint, it seems fairly intuitive, and definitely has a lot of potential. If I could have all my IM accounts in there (so MSN, AOL, Yahoo, ICQ, IRC as well as what it does at the moment) I’d be interested. If it could do social networking like Flock does, I’d be very interested. If they could build Firefox into it, so all my desktop tabs mixed with my web tabs, I’d be incredibly interested. All these all possible, I just wish I could sit down for the next few weeks and write them myself (if only).
I’ve been meaning to write about Nokia Mosh for a while. It is a place to share all forms of mobile media, from images and videos to themes and applications, for all of their current and recent phones (including of course the N95). You can upload and download anything on the service. There is also a social networking side to it, as you can build up a collection of your favourite apps, comment on them, and share them with friends.
It is of particular interest to anyone interested in new Symbian applications. You can search for new releases and versions, and see what is popular with other users. It is fairly open, anyone can upload what they like, but they do police it, through a combination of observation and complaints (it isn’t a huge service, and is still in beta). It is worth reading the comments on an application to see how other people have got on with it, and none of the content is assured by Nokia, so any installation is at the users own risk.
I’m going to work through some of the applications I find on there, and talk about them on here over the next few months. I’ve set up my own collection on Mosh if you want to see what I’ll be looking at. I’ll make no guarantees for any of them either yet, but have a look through them, and obviously if you use the service yourself, add me as a friend.