I guess most of the Symbian Belle users out has received Belle Refresh update and rest of them are about to receive it. As @ctrohin said in previous post, indeed, Belle Refresh is not a great update. We got few more widgets (and most of them were already available separately), an updated browser and a new UI in music player. Not much, huh? Especially when you are expecting a better VKB, slightly overclocking and some other nice fp1 features. I was, too, disappointed with update.
Well, here I’m not going to talk about how good or bad update is actually. Belle Refresh brought an updated browser. I’m not really impressed with how they removed that menu screen having icons, with just text option menu. After the update, this browser is really causing trouble to me. I don’t browser much on my phone. I use clients of most of the services, but yes, we are on Symbian, dying (or dead already? ) platform, we don’t have clients for many services. So, sometime I have to use Browser and access their Mobile Web service.
While surfing using this new browser, phone suddenly freezes, nothing works! Only way to get my phone working is hard reboot, by pressing and holding power button for 8 sec. This is very annoying. I wouldn;t consider this an issue if it had happened once, twice or thrice. But I face is almost every time I am browsing. It has happened 6 or 7 times so far ( and I haven’t used browser more than 8-9 times ). This bug is crazily annoying. I am not sure if other are facing this bug. I updated my Nokia N8 to Belle Refresh with OTA update.
Please feel free to comment any of you have faced this issue or just let me know your feedback on this issue. You can also discuss with us @NokiaTips.
My journey with Windows Phone began a little over a month ago. Used to be a big Symbian user and fan at the time but was very curious to see what would change in the way I use my smartphone everyday after the big switch. So here are the questions I was asking myself at the time:
1. Would I find all the apps I needed and used daily in the WP Marketplace?
2. Would I be able to live without multitasking?
3. Could Lumia’s 8MP snapper take the place of the 12MP monster of the N8?
All these questions got answered and then some. So let’s take it step by step.
Question 1: Would I find all the apps I needed and used daily in the WP Marketplace?
The Windows Phone Marketplace is full of surprises and hosts a lot more apps than Nokia Store does. You can find official apps for most services and social networks. Unlike Symbian, Windows Phone has an official app for Facebook, Twitter, Evernote, IMDb and so much more. I’m not saying the official apps are the best, but they’re there and that means the platform is endorsed and will be supported for a long while. For an average user Windows Phone social networking integration is very well done, and basically removes the need for third party apps as far as social needs are concerned, but if you are a power user and want multiple accounts on Twitter and Facebook, then you need to find yourself a different app. What Windows Phone Marketplace misses compared to Nokia Store is the ton of HD games that made Symbian a gaming “phon-sole”. Oh an the pay by SMS option too.
Question 2: Would I be able to live without multitasking?
Symbian is well known for it’s brilliant multi-tasking and many think that the in transition to Windows Phone one may me missing that aspect. To be honest, at first you do miss the multi-tasking, but over time you get used to it and the resume app functionality along with the ability to have background agents working even when an app is dormant does make up for the lack of true multi-tasking. The resume-app approach was used my Microsoft to allow a smooth user experience even when multiple apps are started. The background agents work really well. Initially I thought that having no real multi-tasking would get in the way, but if the apps you use are well written, you have nothing to worry about. For example, I had an app that uploaded a large photo to Dropbox. The app had the ability to upload in the background so while I was playing Angry Birds the app took care of the upload neatly. If that’s not multi-tasking I don’t know what is. Windows Phone 7 is labeled as no-multi-tasking OS, but the matter of fact is that it does have multi-tasking, but not your traditional multi-tasking. Instead of keeping your entire app in memory doing whatever you need it to do, Microsoft used the background agent approach. The background agent is actually a piece of the app that uses no user interface and can do stuff in the background. For example, you may use an app that could eat 400MB of RAM when running in full UI mode, but only 20-30MB when running the user agent. That is called resource friendly app development.
Question 3:Could Lumia’s 8MP snapper take the place of the 12MP monster of the N8?
Here is where I really missed my N8. The camera. I snap a lot of photos of my kid and lots of them are in low light conditions. The N8 clearly beats the Lumia 800 in this department, but when it comes to daylight I noticed that the Lumia 800 actually takes better photos, catches more detail. It’s fast lens captures more light in broad daylight and it shows. You get less motion blur in your photos. So basically it’s a trade-off. You get better photos in daylight and worse in low light. It’s up to each and every user to choose. But I have to say that even in low light, the Lumia takes far better photos than other phones with LED flash. And that’s, as I said above, because of the fast lens. The Lumia 800 does not claim to be a cameraphone, that’s left for the 808, but it does hold it’s ground against most smartphones out there.
Bottom line is this: it takes a while for you to get used to it, but once you do, you won’t be able to move back to Symbian. The speed of the Lumia cannot be matched by any Symbian device. Windows Phone is missing some features, but it has others(lots of them) that more than make up for what you were missing in the first place.
Refresh is the best name Nokia could have named this update. It tells you all about it. Just like when you go on your web browser, hit refresh and nothing happens, just a page reload, the same happens with Belle Refresh: not much. I was a bit sarcastic there but that’s only because I think Nokia could have put a bit more effort into this update and bring us some exciting and much awaited features. I think that after almost 8 months of development they simply could have done more.
Let’s see what’s new. Nokia added a bunch of new widgets with a gazillion clock widgets(important right?), the much awaited Mail,new arrival, toggles for 3G, Mobile Data, Offline mode and Silent mode, contact groups and a weather widget with the associated app.
The new bookmark widget makes a very welcomed addition, along with the data counter widget which most of use were eagerly waiting for.
We also got a new and welcomed Notes widget, a new calendar agenda widget, two music player widgets and the photo wall widget.
The web browser got updated to version 8.3. Not much of a speed improvement, but on paper it’s HTML5 compatibility has been improved. The browser also got a small UI overhaul, with a new Favorites button making it’s way to the toolbar replacing the old Add bookmark button. The favorites view is now split into three tabs: Most visited, Bookmarks and History.
What Belle Refresh DIDN’T get? Well, here is the list of commons sense expectations that were not met:
1) New keyboard a-la FP2
2) Notifications split from activities and new email in notification area
3) Minimal overclock
4) New camera UI (for N8 at least)
Maybe expecting some of these features to make it to Belle Refresh was wishful thinking, but let’s hope that maybe they will still arrive along the way.
Today I will show you a fresh new weather app. It’s called nWeather and it’s been on the Nokia Store for short while. It’s not your usual weather app with lots of screens and lots of features, it doesn’t have a widget(yet) but it gets the job done. The application is written in Qt by Badcoke.
The application has two main screens. The first one that you are presented with is the screen where you need to enter the name of your city. Once you press the “Let’s go button” you are taken to the second screen that shows you the current weather conditions and a three day forecast. You can swipe across this screen to get either the forecast or the current weather conditions.
The app is not some award winning weather app, but it looks gorgeous, and that’s the main reason I decided to present it to you guys. For me it’s the perfect weather app that shows you all you need to know in the most pleasant and simple way possible.
The app weights 3.4MB and you can download it from here: nWeather on Nokia Store
SymPaper is Symbian’s only Read it later client, or at least the only that I know of. It is a paid app and this review is meant to help you make this decision: is it worth it?
It all depends on how often you use Read it later/Pocket on your Symbian device. But first of all, let’s see what Read it later is all about. Well, let’s say you encounter a nice little article that you want to read but don’t have the time to do it. Usually you just bookmark it and come back later to read it. But what it you can’t find that article anymore? What if it was removed, or something else happened and you just can’t read it anymore? Here is where Read it later/Pocket comes in handy. When you add a page to Read it later it’s not like you’re just bookmarking it. Read it later will download that page and will keep it’s content in your account until you decide to delete it. So even if that article that you were interested in is no longer online, you can always read it with Read it later.
Next question I hear is “what apps use Read it later?”. Tough question. Unfortunately not too many. It would be great if the Belle browser used it, but Nokia did not integrate such functionality in it. The main social applications, however, do support Read it later. Gravity is my choice when it comes to Twitter and fMobi when it comes to Facebook, and both support Read it later. I have to note here that Gravity too has a Facebook client and Foursquare client with Read it later support.
But the advantages do not stop here. You can have these pages across all your devices, be them Windows Phone, Symbian, iOS, Android or desktop computers, and that my friends is the power of Read it later. You see an article on your phone, you send it to Read it later and later when you’re at home, you get your tablet and you read.
The application main view consists in the list of articles that you have added to your account. From the context menu you can choose to see All articles, Read articles or Unread articles like a filter.
Using the “plus” button you can add an article by specifying it’s URL and optionally it’s title.
The article view is very simple and offers you a simple toolbar with the ability to mark the article as read or share it. You can share the article by SMS, Email, Twitter or Facebook. From the context menu you can delete the article, re-sync it which means the app will try to re-fetch the original URL of that article or open it in browser.
In the settings there are lots of tweaks that can be used to customize your SymPaper experience and data usage. First you have the Fetch mode where you can decide if the articles you already read should be fetched from the Read it later server or not. Second you have the number of articles to be fetched. By default this number is set to 500. You wouldn’t want to download a whole bunch of ancient articles, right? Next you have the search mode that decides how you want to search for your articles. Here you have two options: search in title or in article content. I suggest you use the title search and only if you can’t find what you need switch to content search as this may be an exhaustive search. Next option is Auto Sync At Startup which synchronizes with your Read it later account each time you run SymPaper.
The article settings section is all about the reading experience, so here you can tweak that. First of all we have the font size and here you can choose from four predefined sizes, which should be enough for anyone regardless of their screen size. Next we have the theming or skin options. The Light list theme and Light reader theme will instruct SymPaper to use white background an black text color within the items list and article reader. While that may be OK for non AMOLED screens, I strongly recommend you keep using the dark theme on AMOLED displays. The Images option decides if your article reader displays images or not and the maximized reader option removes the system status bar from the same article reader. The Automatically Mark As Read option will mark an article as read once you’ve opened it.
I have to say that SymPaper may be Symbian’s single Read it later client, but it’s basically all you need. It’s written by the same Talv Bansal that wrote SymNote I reviewed last week.
The app is paid and you can get it from here: Download
I had a lot of fun playing Dalton The Awesome on Nokia N9, spends lots of hours playing it. So stumbling on Dalton The Awesome Realoaded and buying it at the moment on my Nokia N8 was obvious. I bought it right away. But how was the experience? Let’s find out.