Category Archives: maemo.org

The Empire strikes Back:
NOKIA’s Return To Your Pocket And The Magic Of Context

Sometimes you just don’t see it coming…. We all remember the times, not too long ago, when Nokia were selling basically the same Series 60 models of their phones for years by essentially just changing their outer design – along with the pricetag.
 
And despite a couple of surprising successes like with their N770 PDA tablet (which, at the time, we also used to showcase the early SemaWorx prototypes) there obviously has not been a lot of initiative inside the company to more dedicatedly pushing the technological borders in direction of widening the market for cellphone usage.
 
After all, one could still make a good living from the existing models’ diversification and even afford to send away Apple back in the days when the late Steve Jobs approached them in order to speed up the initial iPhone product development.
 

Though the times, they’re changin’: With Apple’s stock price ranging as high as it may ever get, but their once-superior phone engineering at the same time showing inceasingly more weeknesses in both concept and execution, this is the dawn for their competitors again. And since it can be quite hard to impossible sometimes, to beat huge corporations such as Apple in the business they themselves created, the guys at Nokia did wisely, to leave to others what others can do better.
 
In the past, Nokia’s own developments haven’t ever really been up equally with their counterpart’s products in terms of UI and OS engineering, which in recent years more often than not resulted in quite limited software capabilities even on the newer Nokia handsets. In following this inevitably lead to a shrinking community of application developers willing to take the hassle to write software for e.g. the Symbian or maemo.org platforms.
 

With the introduction of their new LUMIA smartphone series however, the NOKIA management left building the smartphone OS to Microsoft and their Windows 8 product. This did not only bring a new, sophisticated though proven, system base to their latest generation of completely re-engineered phones without causing too much hassle on the run, but brought in a huge crowd of new application developers as well, who already had long-yeared experience in programming for the Microsoft platform.
 

The other strength which NOKIA has just turned into a USP again, is their experience in engineering high-standard cellphones. And even though the current models’ hardware may not always be able to keep up with the installed Windows operating system’s hunger for computational power yet, they focus on the customers’ outcomes by providing them a high level of tools to ease a phone user’s life. And no, I don’t think so much of the literal ˮbells & whistles“ here, but more of features like
 

  • Mutiband Phone Networks (including LTE broadband) Where competitors stick to supporting only certain partner-vendors’ networks, Nokia Lumia customers always get the full spectrum.
     
  • High Quality Multi-Brand Location Services With the strategic purchases of NAVTEQ and earthmine, Nokia product designers get their hands on powerful features like sight-based navigation, making up for a nicely designed AR display of your environment, accompanied by corresponing quality guides: Besides the omnipresent crowd-sourced content, Nokia services provide a wide range of professionally authored information from providers like Michelin, HRS or Expedia.
     
  • Realtime Public Transport Information The one-of-a-kind just-on-time routing for those of us travelling by foot and public transport.
     
  • Phone Calls Almost forgot about it: No, they haven’t forgotten about building reliable voice calling into the latest generation phones. No antenna-issues involved here…
     
  • Above Standards Camera With photo shooting among the most popular phone features in recent years, Lumia devices come with ZEISS lenses, optical image stabilization, sequence-shots and HDR-like processing tools.
     

In my oppinion, these new approaches will, in the longer run, put NOKIA at the heart of an eco-system fucussing much less on what is possible, than on services users actually need to navigate through life on a daily basis.
 

SemaWorx Prototype Ready – Official Press Release (in German)

 
We made it !
 
N770 & SemaBeacon — showing the prototypeYes, I know it’s sheerly unbelievable, but we finally got a working prototype of SemaWorx Soft- & Hardware. I’m really amazed by this, since it has been a *very* long going process since the first concepts almost two years ago.
   On the photograph you can see me holding our Bluetooth Beacon in the left hand (we built it into a paving stone, milled from a piece of Styrodur, to demonstrate the versatility ;-) ) and showing the “beamed” user-interface on my N770 above.
   This also showcases the realtime handling of various semantic XML data sources.
 
Please see the details for press releases and photographs.
 

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Trying out my Nokia 770 Internet-Tablet (Developer Device)

When I finally received my Nokia 770 Internet Tablet some weeks ago I was very excited about it, since it will be the first mobile client device for our SemaWorx Project.
   Our context-sensitive backend-interaction already works pretty well with PCs, so now it’s time to try out some smaller clients. If the N 770 works well, hopefully a couple of cellphones will be next.
 
About the 770 itself: No, its certaily not slow as the first press feedback assumed, but it’s just as fast as most other PDAs. The preinstalled Webbrowser (the OS is linux-based, so you will be able to install a broad range of apps yourself soon) seems to be an Opera for Linux, the e-mail software comes with support for encryption and signature certificates and IMAP4 for comfortable, server-based e-mail handling.
 
There have been theoretically two ways to go online with the Nokia 770: Wi-Fi (b/g) or via Bluetooth Dial-Up. Unfortunately the current Bluetooth software only dials up via mobile phones but not via common household access points. So Wi-Fi access is much more convenient, though activating encryption is somewhat ponderous.
 
This is what leaves you hoping for the promised firmware upgrade early next year which will hopefully not only include some fixes for its mediaplayer but also some sort of scheduling software which is missing by now.
 
Something to praise: Although Nokia published a battery life of only three hours, I have to admit I had almost no chance to get it empty within less than three DAYS. Clearly enough time to find a place for recharge.
    I’m also a fan of the handwriting recognition software: Right after teaching it the often strange looking of the characters I produce ;-) i t did an amazing job on their transfer to plain text.
 
I’m really looking forward to what the maemo.org community has saved us for the next upgrade…
 

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