This could be one to follow, Microsoft has released a beta of software to sync data with Windows. Interestingly, it isn’t just for Windows mobile devices, as the list of compatible phones includes several Symbian-based Nokia phones. I won’t be trying this myself, but it is good to see Microsoft offering support to non-Windows mobile devices, and I hope to see Apple following this lead too.
A new update to the software for the Nokia N95 has been available for about a month now, and I finally got chance to use it. It is well worth reading the rundown at SybianV3.com for all the details. The key points I would make are:
- Please Nokia, let me update the software directly on the phone. The one thing I have to use Windows for is to update the software, and this is just wrong. I was able to update directly on the Nokia 6630, why can’t I on my N95. You’re not going to make me a Linux client, so allow this instead.
- Back up your phone data to the memory card before updating. You can find this under Tools > Memory > Options > Back up phone memory. This will save you a lot of pain. Once you’ve installed the software update, you can use the Restore from card option.
- Make a note of the software you’ve installed before updating. If you’ve installed applications to the memory card, they should in the main work after the update, but ones on your phone itself will be wiped. I did find that even though the Nokia Step Counter was removed, when I reinstalled it, it found the data for it again without prompting.
- The main reason for updating, I feel, is the upgrade to Flash Lite 3. This means the full desktop version of Youtube now works on the N95. It’s somewhat cumbersome to navigate through, but the videos play respectably well (whereas in the mobile version, I’d yet to get one to stream at all). Well worth doing just for this. I did try to see if the BBC iPlayer would work with it too, but this was a failure, no video loaded when I tried.
I’ve downloaded the latest version of the Nokia Sports Tracker beta recently for my N95 (version 1.78), and was pleased to accidently happen upon a new feature. As well as tracking you by GPS, and allowing you to upload your journey to their site, for a while they’ve had the ability for you to add pictures and video taken along the trip. Now they have added a new feature, which will tag what you were listening to on the music player, and where you listened to it.
Now I agree this is not perhaps the most important or useful feature, but I feel it rates highly in the “that’s rather neat” stakes. It certainly works on the phone, but my first test of uploading put my pictures online, but not the music. So worth testing it out a bit more to see what is going on.
When I first heard that Skype had released a beta client for mobiles, I was rather excited. I’m probably not the only N95 user that expected they could finally make VOIP calls easily through Skype. I wasn’t prepared for the disappointment that I couldn’t.
To be fair, it is listed in the details that it will make a local rate phone call to allow you to place Skype calls, but why? If I’ve got a Wi-fi connection, why can’t I use it? Okay, for long-distance and international calls, it will save me money, but that’s not what I was after.
The client itself is simple to install and set up, and once logged in, sure enough I could see my contacts fine (over the wi-fi connection). It is lacking in features compared to the full client, but the main reason for having it is to place calls, and this works well. It could really do with the same test call function that the full client has, as this is very helpful to make sure things are set up properly.
The beta Skype client runs on a range of Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and Samsung phones, but in terms of the Nokia N series is only listed as working for the N95 and N80 (if I didn’t have one of these though, I would be tempted to try it out anyway just in case).
It would be perfectly acceptable if it did what I expect Skype to do, make calls online, however at the moment it just seems broken not being able to do that.
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.
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.
So I did some further investigation tonight into getting my Nokia 6300 working under Ubuntu, with very positive results. What I tracked down was a program called Gnokii. It is a project to provide connectivity to Nokia phones that has been going since at least 2001, so they’ve got quite a bit of collective experience. And it has got me started.
First of all, I installed the software. It was available as a program to install, but I went with the trusty:
sudo apt-get install gnokii
Next I had to configure the connection. The documentation on the site is a little dusty, and does deal with a lot of different options depending on the phone, so I’m going to concentrate on my model, the 6300. First connect the phone using the usb cable, and select the Nokia mode on the phone when asked. You then need to edit the config file by hand (I tried setting it within the program itself, but it wouldn’t allow me):
sudo cp /etc/gnokiirc /etc/gnokiirc.OLD
sudo vi /etc/gnokiirc
And you will get a very well commented config file. If you are using a different phone, or connecting through another means such as Bluetooth, have a read through the file, there are good pointers for the changes you need to make. For the Nokia 6630, delete the contents (you’ve already backed it up) and use the following:
port = /dev/ttyACM0
model = AT
initlength = default
connection = serial
use_locking = yes
serial_baudrate = 19200
smsc_timeout = 10
bindir = /usr/sbin/
TELEPHONE = 12345678
debug = off
rlpdebug = off
xdebug = off
and save the file. You may well prefer to comment out the port and model in the existing file, and then just uncomment the two lines I’ve set at the start of this file.
Now to test the connection:
sudo gnokii --identify
If this has worked, it will show a small amount of information about the phone, the make, model, EMEI number and revision number. If you’ve got this, you’re ready to go. If not, check the config file, or look up on the Gnokii site for further help.
You can know run Gnokii from the applications menu (it should be under utilities). You will be able to view and edit basic details about your contacts, back them up, and send SMS from the computer via the phone. There is also an option for Calendar entries, but I can’t get this working yet. It may be down to me using the model = AT option, which I think is more limited in what it can do. I’ll certainly keep investigating to see if I can solve it.