It’s downloading and installing as I write this. The new firmware for the Nokia N8 (and others) not only includes a new browser but also ‘new imaging apps.’
This update again brings new features to Symbian smartphones, for example: – a new browser with HTML5 web apps support, a new set of homescreen widgets, and the previously released Microsoft Office Mobile App and Nokia Maps Suite 2.0 in one package. – Nokia N8 will have some extra apps for imaging
I’ll let you know what I find and do some tests on the HTML5-capable browser.
The initial firmware update on my vanilla UK Nokia N8 completed without any problems via an OTA transfer in about 10 minutes.
AAS have some details on the changelog. Included are some new clocks, previously installable apps now being part of the firmware (Big Screen, DLNA play, Maps Suite 3.9, QT 4.8.0) and a facelift for the music player.
There’s a new search widget available in the software update list.
Still no social networks apart from Facebook and Twitter. (What about Flickr, YouTube and the million other networks Nokia?)
HTML5 Browser allows pages to be saved as apps (although I might have missed that before – I’ve never been a big user of the browser.)
A set of new widgets are useful.
I can’t find evidence of new imaging apps but maybe they are rolling out as separate apps at a later stage.
A few people noticed that I upgraded to 2.3.5 on my original Galaxy Tab 7 and wanted to know how. Apparently the upgrade is rolling out and UK and NL owners of some variants have received the update through the standard Kies software. Try that first of course (you can download it from Samsung) but if you’re desperate to get it you’ll have to take the complex, risky route. Here are a few links to get you going.
You might have heard me having a moan about my Galaxy Tab 7 (original) recently. It’s been a bit stuttery and slow for the last 4 or 5 months and despite firmware upgrades and a recent factory reset, it still wasn’t performing. I was considering buying a Galaxy 7 Plus to replace it.
A reboot would smooth things out but after a few hours of use it would occasionally hang for a second or two, progressively getting worse. Turning off background sync and reducing the number of running programs helped but never totally fixed the issues which would progressively get worse over 48 hours and then result in total lock-up needing a hard reset.
I think I may have fixed the issue now though and if it remains as good as it is now, I won’t need to upgrade my Tab.
A few days ago I upgraded the firmware using the ODIN flash tool to a new generic ROM built on 2.3.5. I cleared and reset the internal flash too. After re-installing just the bare minimum of apps, the problem was back after a short while.
Yesterday I tested a Galaxy Note side-by-side with the Tab and was embarrassed to see my Tab coughing and sputtering its way through tests. Something was definitely wrong. I searched and searched for news of others with the same issue but found nothing concrete.
In the end I did two things and one of these has fixed my Tab and made it buttery smooth again.
1 – Data settings changed. I used to let the Wifi switch off when the screen was off in order to save power because at home, I always run in aircraft mode. You can do this under advanced settings in the Wifi setup screen. (press menu key.) I’ve changed that now. I leave the phone on, turn off background data and configure the Wifi to stay on all the time. This is likely to shorten my battery life. I’ll be keeping an eye on it. I want to go back to ‘phone off’ mode if possible as my Tab is not my primary phone.
2 – I unmounted my microSD card. I think this was the changed that fixed my issues.
Obviously I need to do more testing to find out which change was really responsible and I need to use the Tab for a few more days to be sure but I know my Tab so well that I can already sense it’s working way, way better now. I event seen any stuttering since I did the change 12 hours ago.
My theory is that my microSD card either has an error, is too slow or too fragmented. It’s an 8GB no-brand class 2 card. Maybe the media scanner was getting tripped up. Mabe some other process was getting tripped up? Right now I don’t care. Having cleaned my system for the firmware upgrade I have 12GB free for my media and that will be enough. The MicroSD card stays out of the system for the time being. It could be that the microSD card reduces performance even if it’s a good one.
Try unmounting your microSD card to see if it speeds up your Galaxy Tab.
Last night I took the plunge and dumped the official 2.3.3 Gingerbread upgrade on my Galaxy Tab via the ‘side-loading’ method based on an copy of the firmware being rolled out in Europe (but not available here in Germany yet.) I used simple instructions from The Galaxy Tab Forum (Hat Tip XDA Developers) and flashed the firmware along with a full factory reset and spent about 4 hours late last night testing, restoring my apps and listening to music.
The music wasn’t just for fun. Previous builds of the Galaxy Tab were never that good at being an MP3 player due to stuttering under load. I’m please to report that this problem has gone. I had 8 programs running to the point where even text input was failing but the audio kept-on playing.
So what else is new?
If you’re happy with your Tab right now I don’t recommend going the side-loading route to get Gingerbread. It’s easy but risky and for what you’re getting it’s not worth the risk. I’m not saying the upgrade is underwhelming, I’m just saying that the upgrade isn’t a huge one in terms of instantly noticeable changes. A new, lighter font, greets you and as you swipe down the notification area and then across home screens you’ll notice that it is super smooth but that’s pretty much it for obvious changes.
The text select method has changed slightly (in-line with the new 2.3 text selection tool I beleive) but Samsung already had that on 2.2. They were also ahead of the curve on audio enhancements and a few other 2.3 features.
There’s a few videos below showing part of the upgrade and a review of the upgrade below. Here are my notes so far.Â I should note that if you’re into ‘rooting’ your Galaxy Tab,Â please double-check that this upgrade doesn’t lock the bootloader.
Smoother transitions in some areas. Noticeable in notifications area and browser scrolling.
New sketch note app
SIP/VOIP support removed from Gingerbread (at least I can’t find it!)
Pulse app included
No new themes or backgrounds (a feature of Gingerbread)
Better battery usage section possibly not working properly. (screen, WiFi usage doesn’t appear to be correct)
No WiFi dropouts (i experienced this on a previous EU stock firmware)
No truly noticeable web speed improvements. Some checkerboarding when scrolling quickly while page is loading.
Modified indicator icons in top home-screens bar
New text selection tool (as per standard android 2.3 i believe)
Audio playback now stable under load. No stutter
One user interface crash/reboot experienced after playing Need For Speed.
Browser download manager
Overall the Tab has been stable and reliable. I’m looking forward to apps that take advantage of the new touch responsiveness APIs. (The browser does appear to be one of those apps.)
At Google I/O 2011, Honeycomb 3.1, which brings a number of user and developer enhancements, has been officially announced and detailed. Google also says that Honeycomb 3.1 will be making its way to Google TV powered devices this summer; very exciting news as it means that Google TV devices will now have access to apps from the Android Market!
Android 3.1 is rolling out now to Motorla Xoom [tracking page] devices on Verizon’s network, however our Xoom still has no idea that an update is available, so it’s likely coming in waves. Nicole Scott of NetbookNews.com has a tip for forcing your Xoom to check for the update (though checking for it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll find it!).
Honeycomb 3.1 Major Changes
Resizable Widgets and UI Changes
In Android 3.1, widgets have support for dynamic resizing which is a great feature as I can only currently see a pathetic three emails in the Gmail widget. Google notes that it is really painless for developers to add dynamic-size capability to their widgets with just a few lines of code.
There has also been a number of minor adjustments to the UI. Google says that â€œUI transitions are improved throughout the system and across the standard appsâ€ which will hopefully make homescreen swiping more smooth. I’ve been unimpressed with the fluidity of homescreen swiping (and general UI performance) thus far.
Other changes are aiming to make the experience more intuitive â€“ something that Honeycomb desperately needs. Android 3.0 is really not the intuitive experience that you hope it would be. From my own observations, novice users have a hard time using the device because of this. Sometimes I too am unsure as to where to look for a particular button or function within an application because it just isn’t clear what certain buttons will do. Trial-and-error should not be the underlying philosophy of your interface. Any changes toward making the operating system â€œeasier to see, understand, and useâ€, as Google says, will be an improvement to the OS.
Accessibility has also been enhanced, and I’m always happy to see that the industry is not skimping in this department. From Apple’s iOS to Android, accessibility options are there to help as many people as possible make use of these devices. Android 3.1 enhances accessibility with consistent voice-feedback throughout the UI.
The recent-apps button, which Google implemented in 3.0 to take place of the home-hold gesture in Android for phones, has been extended to show a greater number of recently used applications (rather than just 5) by allowing the user to scroll through the list.
Android 3.1 brings along robust USB-host support for peripherals and accessories. Google is touting support for keyboards, mice, game controllers, and digital cameras. Developers are also free to build on the USB support to add compatibility with additional devices for applications â€“ great for more obscure USB devices, or support for specific types of devices (such as a game controller with proprietary buttons).
This also opens up the realm of controlling any number of USB accessories for more interesting uses. Google lists â€œrobotics controllers, docking stations, diagnostic and musical equipment, kiosks, card readers, and much more,â€ as examples of such devices that could be controlled and interacted with using an Android device thanks to this new USB support.
Honeycomb 3.1 is also improving a number of built-in applications.
The browser’s â€œQuick Controlsâ€ have been improved. The well received Quick Controls, enabled through the labs section of the browser settings, allow the user to slide in from the left or right of the screen to get a radial menu that allows them to control the browser. Most notably, tab management has been moved into the Quick Controls which should free up even more space for web content and allow almost all browser functions to be performed from one place.
Some standards related enhancements have been made to the browser such as support for CSS 3D, animations, and CSS fixed position. There’s also support for embedded HTML5 video, and Google says that performance when zooming has been â€œdramaticallyâ€ improved â€“ I’m looking forward to that!
The Gallery app now supports something called Picture Transfer Protocol which will allow users to plug a USB camera into their 3.1 device and import photos directly into the Gallery app.
Exciting news for audiophiles: Android 3.1 now supports FLAC, the lossless audio codec (hat tip to Android Police)! I’m not sure whether or not the soundcards in most Android devices are really up to this task yet, but it’s good that the option is now available.
On the Xoom particularly, I hear a whole lot of popping and hissing coming from the device, even when no sound is playing. Even with lossless audio playback, the audio-bottleneck may well end up being the sound hardware. Perhaps we’ll see tablets pushing higher quality audio equipment to make use of FLAC and differentiate themselves from other devices down the road.
If you’re interested, here’s the technical bit that I am in no position to comment on:
Mono/Stereo (no multichannel). Sample rates up to 48 kHz (but up to 44.1 kHz is recommended on devices with 44.1 kHz output, as the 48 to 44.1 kHz downsampler does not include a low-pass filter). 16-bit recommended; no dither applied for 24-bit.
This would be a â€œtake that!â€ moment from Google to Apple, but Apple has had lossless audio support in their iOS devices for quite some time. The format is a proprietary ALAC, which only serves to lock users further into the Apple ecosystem; still, Android isn’t the only lossless game in town.
In an effort to un-fork the Android OS, which currently operates three builds (phone/tablet/TV), Google is bringing Honeycomb 3.1 to Google TV through an OTA update to existing devices this summer. This will open up the world of apps from the Android Market onto Google TV-powered devices which is exciting news for developers and users alike. New Google TV units are also in the works from Sony, Vizio, Samsung, and Logitech.
As mentioned, the Motorola Xoom on Verizon is the first device to get the 3.1 update. Google hasn’t made it clear when the rest of the world will see 3.1, and even the WiFi-only Xoom is left out in the rain at the time of writing. According to Engadget, Google has said that 3.1 would be hitting the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10 (which was given to attendees of Google I/O) in the â€œnext couple of weeks.â€ There’s some hope that all Honeycomb devices will have access to the update at that time, depending on the whims of individual carriers and OEMS.
Update: See notes about wifi below. I’m still having problems.
I haven’t been keeping a close eye on Galaxy Tab firmware updates as I’ve been very happy with the stability but, in preparation for V2.3 which appears to be confirmed, I took the chance to set up Kies, the Samsung phone/tablet management software this evening. I downloaded and installed the latest firmware for my region and ended up with an update to the ‘JMG’ version which dates from late March.
Interestingly, it did more than I thought it would.
The AllShare DNLA app seems to be updated (although it still doesn’t work with my Vista-based media center,) the Gmail app is updated to the latest version (supporting some great new features) and there’s a new Social Hub application. At least I think it’s new on my Tab!
More importantly though. The device is working more smoothly. it could be that a firmware re-build has deleted all the cache and temp files but there’s one other test that proves it’s more than just a clean-up. DrumKit is an application I use to test the touch latency of the Tab and other Android devices. It has steadily been getting better over time through developer optimisations but I have never seen it this responsive. It’s far from perfect (actually far from usable in any serious manner) due to the delay that still exists but it’s noticeably better. Version 2.3 has specific enhancements for touch responsiveness so it will be very interesting to see how it improves with the big 2.3 upgrade.
Other things I’ve noticed (that may or may not be new!) Take a look at the new Sunspider result.
The application library seems to be sorted by alphabet. (Or was it originally, with new apps just being added to the end of the list?) Update: No changes there.
My Wifi connectivity didn’t come up as default. Despite settings being saved it switched to 3G data. Update: It dropped my Wifi connection a few times while I wrote this article. That’s not good. Update 2 – After 2 hrs my wifi seems stable. Could be because 2 members of the family with 3 wifi devices have left the room. Will continue to monitor this. Update 3 – it dropped again and locked into 3g mode.
All screen layouts, widget setups were lost
Am I seeing a few new widgets? Date,Time,Weather â€“ Dual Clock? Not too interesting though.
Fonts â€“ Look smoother. Maybe the font even changed slightly. I noticed it when I went into WordPress. I’m also seeing some changes in color to improve contrast in some pre-installed apps. Calendar for example.
Sunspider 0.91 â€“ Using Dolphin Browser â€“ 5948ms.
Quadrant -Â 1007 (Original result 1050)Â The I/O part of the Quadrant result is still very poor.
Benchmark Pi â€“ 1423ms â€“Â (Original result 1387) Slight slow-down.
Linpack â€“ 6.07Â (Original result 5.94) Slight slow-down.
Readers Hub new design. (Clearly I need to update the apps within it though and that wood effect still looks very plastic to me!)
I’m sure there are more changes under the skin too and many more aesthetic changes I haven’t seen yet. Maybe, however, you’ve already got these features. My Tab was an original from the first batch and has only seen one firmware update since launch and of course, while these updates are welcome, it’s Gingerbread we’re really waiting for right?