The alpha SDK for the new Maemo 5 platform has just been released and is packing some interesting new things. Most notably the new UI framework is now available for developers to code around, and as stated Â “provides a simple and beautiful experience with a finger based full screen context.” Developers are urged to follow this new UI style to keep a consistent user interface.Â
This release only contains a simplified UI implementation of the Desktop and Application menus, with full versions to follow in the future.Â
As for planned features, we can guess at many from the list of the new APIs included are (directly quoted):
Location API: methods to build location-aware applications.
City Information: methods to obtain information about cities, including city name, country name, and country code.
Time management: an interface for handling time change notifications and collect relevant time and time zone information.
Vibra service: methods for triggering and controlling vibrations.
Device orientation: respond to changes in orientation and discover current orientation.
Maemo will therefore be gaining some nice features that we have become used to on other devices such as vibration notifications and an accelerometer support.Â
For the last 2 days I’ve been re-familiarising myself with the Nokia N810 and using it as an online presence, notification tool, microblogging tool and communicator. I’ve got the email client hooked up to Google via IMAP, Mauku tracking twitter, the built in chat client connected to Gtalk and OVI, the built-in Skype client running (voice works too), weather updating on the home page and the RSS reader loaded with feeds. Oh, and because of the very nice sounding audio quality, I’ve been using it as an Internet radio. Canola is loaded with the last.fm plugin and I’ve even considered fitting the car mount and subscribing to the navigation system. Oh, I almost forgot, FBreader is installed now and I’m planning to start reading with it. (Nokia and Amazon should get together for an offering on the Nokia Tablets.) When used in this mode, as a screen-off presence and notification tool, it will last for 7 hours on a single charge. (That’s about 3-times more efficient than the best Intel MIDs.)
There are problems though. Firstly, when you get an interesting RSS entry or tweet and you click through to the URL, the device slows to a crawl on the web and the experiences takes a nosedive. The N810 isn’t a good browsing device at all, despite the good technical capability of the browser. (A proxied browser service like Opera Mini would have been much better for this platform.) The second problem is connectivity. WiFi and Bluetooth are your only choices meaning it’s not really a mobile device. Tethering to a mobile phone for on-the-go usage will give you battery life issues on the phone although spare batteries for mobile phones are generally quite cheap now so if you’re able to share your phones data connection easily, this is an option.
I love the N810 design, enjoy the keyboard and predictive text input, am impressed by the way Nokia, Maemo and the community has remained active on this platform and because of those advances in software, consider the N810 to be more useful now than it was when I first tested it over a year ago. It’s still not worth the 450 Euro I paid for it, mainly because technology has moved forward since then, but it is definitely worth what Expansys are asking for it in the UK now.
This is going to sound like an out-and-out advertisement but believe me, I had started using the N810 before I had any idea that Expansys were going to drop the price to just 180 pounds. That’s just over 200 Euro at today’s exchange rate. Even with being limited to slow or mobile-site browsing and having to tether for your out of hotspot experiences, its a bargain.
It’s very rare that I put affiliate links in news items but I’m going to do it here because this is a great entry-level into the world of Internet communications and microblogging.
As I come towards the end of the loan period for the Wibrain i1 HSDPA and Compal MID (Thanks Mobilx. Thanks Intel) it’s time to start thinking about what device(s) should replace them. The i1 has been extremely productive and enjoyable and the battery life was the best that I’ve ever experienced without using an extended battery. It will be hard, if not impossible with the devices on the market today, to replace it. The Compal Jax10 (3G) was the best browsing experience I’ve ever had in my pocket so that’s going to be tough to match too.
For the time being I’m not going to buy anything new and there’s two reasons for that. Number one is cash. There isn’t a lot in the UMPCPortal pot at the moment and with CeBIT just a month away, I need keep money locked-up for that. The second problem is knowing about devices that are coming up. Viliv S5, UMID M1 and the new Nokia Tablet are three devices that I really must know more about before I buy something and that information just isn’t available at the moment. I know many of you are in the same position. Frustrating isn’t it!
According to Mobile Burn, the Nokia N810 WiMax version has been discontinued. Distributors have been asked to return the devices and the source states that it’s due to both slow rollout and a problem with the current WiMax switches in the network.
Personally I’m surprised that the WiMax even went on sale. I can’t imagine that the customer base was that big with just two new rollouts in the U.S. Lets hope that Nokia are just going to hold back until the new tablet is out. Sometime in Q2 I suspect.
Maemo.org has just released the first Pre-Alpha of Maemo 5 (AKA Freemantle) which is the OS that will support the new OMAP 3 platform expected to be used in the next Nokia Tablet.
The new release includes a lot of new features including support for cellular data, high-def cameras, hardware-based graphics and the clutter user interface (also planned for Moblin 2 in spring 2009)
Demo of a Clutter-based user interface
It’s important to note that this is a Pre-Alpha release and not even ready for 3rd-party devs to build their apps on yet so we’re obviously months away from a new Nokia Tablet launch. As Maemo 5 progresses though, expect to see deadlines appear which would indicate hardware launch timeframes. Also note that there’s an Intel build. Is this X86 or the old intel Xscale hardware we wonder? Anyone got info?
It seems like it has been forever since we heard about the WiMAX equipped N810, and yet the device wasn’t made available… until now that is. Probably owing the delay to the fact that the WiMAX network was hardly even a reality until a few weeks ago when they started testing WiMAX in Baltimore, Maryland (or they might have been waiting until October to match the black and orange color scheme…). The N810 WiMAX edition appears to be finally purchasable directly from Nokia at a price of $443 (after an instant $50 discount), which is right around the launch price of the original N810. The N810 WiMAX edition is exactly the same as the N810 aside from its black color and WiMAX capability.
Jenn from Pocketables tells us that WiMAX’s next stops will be in Washington DC and Chicago, followed by Dallas, Fort Worth, Providence, Boston, and Philadelphia. As far as I have heard, WiMAX tests are going well, and Nokia might be able to cash-in by having one of the first readily available WiMAX equipped products.
‘Faster over fuller’ is the expression Jenn uses to describe how consumers want their browsing experience and I tend to agree. Personally I want Firefox 3+add-ons for my browser as it’s long my most important piece of software but I’m not most consumers. A consumer MID doesn’t need to be 100% FIE for most people but it does need to be close.
The browser on the Archos 5 is, relative to existing consumer and smartphone-based browsers, a big step forward in the eyes of most people that have tested it so it’s nice to confirm it with some stats. Jenn has lined-up the Archos 5, the iPhone 3G and the Nokia N810 in a browser speed test and overall, you’re seeing page load times 1.5 times faster than an iPhone 3GÂ and about 1.8 times faster than a Nokia N810. But is it fast enough? MIDs and low-end UMPCs are likely to beat these times and return more accurate results but does the difference really matter?
What we’re seeing here is proof of, not just a fast new Archos device, but how the ARM Cortex core could improve the Internet experience. In this case, the ARM core is sitting on the Ti OMAP platform but Ti aren’t the only people using it. Intel really do need to watch their backs in this territory now because they’re not fighting against relatively small companies like AMD and VIA here, they’re fighting against the huge ARM ecosystem and they certainly know a thing or two about mobile hardware and software.
Jenn over at Pocketables came across an installer that will put Android on your N810 with very little work. She mentions that it was possible previously, but never with this level of ease. All it takes is the a download of the image file to your N810 onto internal or external media, then a download and install of the .deb file (Settings -> Application manager -> Install from file). Reboot and voila, Android on the N810. Jenn says the software works fine on the N810, it appears as though it is running at the N810’s native resolution and the touch screen even works. So far this has only been tested on the Diablo release of the N810 software so be sure you have recently flashed your N810 to ensure compatibility with the Android installer. I might have to give this a try on a friend’s N810 that I just flashed to. It would be awesome if maps worked with the N810’s GPS. See additional pictures of the install process on Jenn’s post.
It looks like the folks at Nokia are still working hard as ever to improve the user experience on the Nokia Internet Tablets, specifically the N8x0 models. While the new update isn’t OS2009, it offers some significant improvements to OS2008 that were frustrating to users. I can tell you personally how annoying it was to have to reflash my N810 if there was an update to the system. No back up media meant that I would lose all of my applications and data, and for those that did back up the process didn’t always work correctly.
The Diablo update will turn on over-the-air updates that install incrementally. The User will now be notified of updates to the official OS as well as third-party applications right on the home screen. Previously, one had to manually go to the Application Manager and refresh all sources (which could take several minutes if you have a lot of sources installed). Nokia calls this update feature SSU or Seamless Software Update, I call it SHBTTBW or Should Have Been There To Begin With. The least they could have done was made it possible to back up to your computer before reflashing. At least it is here now, though ironically you’ll still have to reflash for this update, but hopefully never again. Additional improvements include an updated email client based on Tinymail and Modest. The old default mail app was very buggy, an d most people ended up using Modest installed via third-party sources anyway. Now they just need to do the same with the Wayfinder GPS app and replace it with Maemo Mapper.
According to a Boy-Genius four-liner, there’s a rumor that the Nokia N810 will launch with WiMax soon. I don’t see many people jumping up and down with joy though. A clutch of users in Baltimore perhaps but even these people are still wondering how much it’s going to cost.
WiMax on the N810 is at most, a demonstrator for the Xohm ecosystem so I personally think it’s one we can ignore as end users. If Nokia wanted to make a peoples product they would drop a 2.5G modem inside and partner with someone to make a $20 per month contact but I doubt that would be on the cards for this generation of the device. Nokia have a lot to do to bring the UI and software standards up to consumer levels so it wouldn’t make sense to push the tablet into the mainstream just yet. It would just end up with a bunch of unhappy customers expecting an iPhone-esque experience.
Its good to see WiMax gaining momentum. God knows America needs something that will allow them to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of mobile connectivity. It has been really interesting to hear the negative stateside response to Ericsson’s comment about hotspots dying and it highlights how far behind the infrastructure is in comparison with Europe and a lot of Asian cities. In Germany, T-Mobile have just announced a pay-as-you go 7.2mbps 3.5G deal which undercuts their own hotspot product. As they are the biggest hotspot provider in Germany, it gives us some idea of where the carriers think this is going! Go WiMax!