Category Archives: Nokia

Mobile Design UK Meeting

Mobile Revolution Last night I attended the Mobile Design UK event held at the RSA Tavern room, near London’s Charring Cross. It was a great evening and the venue was fantastic, a really well equipped space that made the evening feel wonderfully personal. The smaller location really fostered some great discussions following each of the speakers presentations. The mix of content, concepts and ideas presented was really good.

The evening was introduced by Arabella David from Nokia. She outlined the growing importance of user experience in the mobile space and how Forum Nokia is pushing to support Designers and User Experience experts through the Forum Nokia Channel. More information can be found at the Design and Media section of the Forum Nokia Site.

Scott Weiss (@sdweiss) of Human Factors International kicked of the presentations with a dissection and walkthrough of the usability and information architecture considerations when developing mobile applications that use XHTML to reach a broad user audience. It was good to find out that with XHTML as well as many mobile technologies there is often a trade off between features, richness and audience reach.

Antony Ribot (@ribot) from Ribot provided a fantastic presentation on the speed and growth of the mobile information age, and it’s subsequent effects on physical trends, culture and behaviors. Also provided some great ideas on how we as producers might need to change the way we approach concepting, brain storming and designing to target these new user expectations.

Gil Kahana of Seren Partners presentation provided an enthusiastic insight into the challenges faced when dealing with the barriers that mobile applications present to users and the ways developers should research, test and experiment to break down those barriers. There was some great discussions that followed Gil’s presentation around the fragmentation of some of the technology in the mobile space.

The final presentation by Marek Pawlowski (@marekpawlowski) from PMN – Mobile Industry Intelligence showed some brilliant dissection of the minutia of user value that can be extracted by mobile users and audiences from some of the most innocuous of details, the value of battery life conservation, the range of colours a phone or application is available in or how an application provides user feed back when scrolling.

The Mobile Design UK group offers a refreshing and much needed alternative view of mobile development. At the end if the evening I caught up with Bryan Rieger, one of the event organisers, to find out what types of content they were hoping to present at future meetings,

we don’t want to show code

was his first reply. I for one think that’s a brilliant mantra to hold true to. In a space dominated by massively varied technologies, huge numbers of acronyms and a huge range of user audiences and platforms I found it a very comfortable evening of knowledge sharing in a format that felt like a well organized brainstorm.

If you are interested in designing & producing content targeting any mobile platform I would look out for up coming Mobile Design UK events. Thanks to organisers for putting together a great line up os speakers and also a big thank you to Forum Nokia for the sponsorship of the evening.

Free Flash Lite Components Bonanza!

I you are a Flash developer producing mobile content for Flash Lite then this week end you really hit pay dirt. First Nokia announced a set of Components for Flash Lite 2. Next Adobe also release a set of Components, for use with Flash Lite 1 and also Flash Lite 2, courtesy of Mark Doherty. Finally Scott Janousek resurrected the google code links for Shuriken, a set of open source Flash Lite2 components from last year.

So with all these ‘new’ flash lite components available what can you expect from each component set?

Nokia Flash Lite 2 Components
Nokia have provided their Flash Lite 2 Component set as an MXP file for simple installation into Flash CS3, the components are easily accessible from the components panel once the MXP has been installed. Included in the zip file you download is a full readme.txt explaining how to install the MXP file through Adobe Extension Manager. The components also include full usage instructions in the form of flash help files and usage examples. Flash Lite Components that are included in the distribution are:

  • Signal Level display, including network generation.
  • Battery level display.
  • Dynamic List Component.

The Signal and Battery indicator components react to softkey placement/screen orientation. All three of the components have easily accessible skin components in the library, and also allow limited visual control from the properties panel. Mark Doherty noted that the components appear to be quite memory hungry. The Signal and Battery Indicators seem to use in the region of 600k according to Adobe Device Central, the Dynamic List Example reports around 800k although the actual memory usage of the list without a demo data set is closer to 700k.

Download the Nokia Flash Lite 2 Components

Adobe Flash Lite 1 & 2 Components and UI Examples
Over at flashmobileblog Mark Doherty has released some UI components as well. These are provided for both Flash Lite 1 and Flash Lite 2 projects. There is limited documentations for the examples, the Flash Lite 2 examples look like they should be easy to integrate as long as you intend to use them ‘as is’ in this case they would simply require the addition of key listeners to control them. If you needed the components to be used in a more dynamic fashion, there would probably be some work to do. Included in the Flash Lite 2 component examples are:

  • List, this offers similar functionality to the Dynamic list in the Nokia Component set.
  • Slider, This offers a horizontally scrolling icon menu.
  • Gapper, This is a vertical variation of the slider.
  • TileGrid, Shows a gridded icon menu with scrolling screen control.
  • NavModel, this demonstrates a full application screen control system, also included are working Signal and Battery indicators and a list components.

The examples in this file are certainly easy on the memory, all of them use less than 500k, this is particularly impressive of the Nav Model example given the amount of interactivity and feedback that is demonstrated.

As with any Flash Lite 1 work, making use of the earlier versions will be a little more fiddly than the Flash Lite 2 counter parts. But the code in each of the examples is clearly identified and if you know your way around ActionScript 1 you should find incorporating the ‘components’ easy enough. Included in the examples are the following Flash Lite 1.1 components.

  • Carousel, A full screen horizontal slider.
  • Displays, demonstrates the various device stats you can access from Flash Lite 1, also included are battery and signal indicators.
  • IconMenu, offers a FlashLite 1 version of the Slider component in the Flash Lite 2 set, this is similar to the functionality produced in the tutorial here.
  • Menu, actually seems to be a Flash Lite 2 example, an alternative dynamic list example.
  • Story, This is an example of scrolling text in flash Lite 1, similar to the scrolling text component I have released.

Agin the Flash Lite 11 components are very efficient when it comes to memory usage. None used more than 400k when published, and most were below 300k. The trade of with both these example sets from Adobe seem to be the slight increase in the amount of work you would need to do to integrate them. The other thing to note, is that these examples do offer examples of far more compelling UI methods than simple lists.

Download the Adobe Flash Lite 1 & 2 Components and UI Examples

Shuriken Open Source Flash Lite 2 Components
The last set of Flash Lite components are those that

  • Scott mentioned, the Shuriken Components. I stumbled upon these components some time ago, I am not sure if the project is still live or has fallen dormant. The project offers a fairly comprehensive attempt at providing a full component framework to Flash Lite 2 developers. Included in the distribution zip are source class files, and example .fla’s for each component in the library.
    • Button
    • Calendar
    • CheckBox
    • ComboBox
    • DateEditor
    • LinkButton
    • List
    • Loader
    • NumericStepper
    • RadioButton
    • RadioButtonGroup
    • ScrollableList
    • SimpleButton
    • TextArea

    While the examples are good they do seem to be quite heavy in terms of memory usage, and they are not without issues. The scrolling list example for instance takes around 700k to display, but more concerning is that this memory usage raises during operation, implying the component has a memory leak somewhere. The complexity of this initiative while making development easier, may be its problem. Complex class structures in Flash Lite tend to give rise to cross references and memory leaks quite quickly.

    Download the Shuriken Open Source Flash Lite 2 Components

    So there we have it 3 sets of components, all certainly have there advantages and disadvantages. The Nokia Flash Lite components are great for Plug and Play development, I would say the Adobe UI examples are great for producing engaging canned demos as they stand, but with a bit of work could be converted for very memory efficient project use, and the shuriken component frame work may be a little heavy at the moment, but keep a watch on them, they could certainly offer a great, familiar framework for Flash Lite development, when they can solve the memory issues.

    Also worth a note is that Mark Doherty has put a shout out at the end of his post regarding a shelved component framework that he could release from Adobe if interest is great enough. Mark has asked the FlashLite comunity to provide some support if it were released, to document and update the project, but this could offer a great opertunity to unify the current state of disperate component solutions emerging.

    Credit where its due:

  • Does Apple’s new 3g iPhone Still Suck?

    Back in November I posted a post titled “9 reasons the iPhone Sucks!“. It was a quick link to some comments a friend made regarding the iPhone being ‘a little disapointing’ when he first took delivery of Apple’s shiney new device. At the time I only had 3 gripes with Apple’s original mobile device.

    Since Apple has released the 3g iPhone I have read a number of online posts & articles as well as hard copy newspapers & magazines all detailing the new device. To be fair you couldn’t read much else than stories about the iPhone for a while.

    Also, since November I have ben using my trusty Nokia N95 more and more, despite its age. As a result I feel I know more about my personal mobile usage requirements and am more knowledgeable about my expectations of a mobile device now as well.

    Following a new comment posted on my original “9 reasons the iPhone Sucks!” post I thought I would revisit the subject, referencing the 3g iPhone this time.

    In my original post the three issues I had with the iPhone were as follows.

    1. 2 mega pixel camera with no video. Nokia N95 has a 5 mega pixel camera and full screen video recording and tv out playback. Result.
    2. No 3g internet connection. Nokia N95 once again comes up trumps in this department with 3G and HSDP access. Result.
    3. No decent Data package, 18 month contract. N95 on T-mobile with web & walk max. 10 gb data voip and 3g. Result

    Ok so the lack of 3g connection is now null and void, well done Apple. Or is it. Over the last 9 months only a small percentage of my 3g connection usage has been ‘On Device’, most of my mobile 3g usage has been by hooking the N95 up to my Mac Book Pro as a 3g Modem, either over BlueTooth or USB. Despite the iPhone being from the same company as my laptop, apparently there is no easy way to make it work as a 3g modem? DOH!

    You could argue I may be able to complete some of the tasks I use my laptop for on the iPhone, for example email and web browsing. I remain unconvinced they will be as easy to complete though, I fudge the on screen keyboard alot for one thing, I know I have tried many times in store.

    There are however tasks I know full well I will not be able to accomplish, Flex development linked to a live data source while traveling on the train down to Devon for example. For those tasks I will still need a 3g modem connected to my Mac Book Pro.

    The next thing is the 2 mega pixel camera on the Apple iPhone versus the 5 Mega pixel camera on the Nokia N95. Well Apple havent done much there the camera is still 2 mega pixels, despite reports that say the chipset should support 5 mega pixels. Over the last 8 months I have been using the camera on my Nokia N95 more and more. As with anything, you can never go backwards to an inferior product. In addition I quite like sending photos of the surf down in Devon to people I know are still in London 😀 . Sorry Sean. I understand this isnt so easy on the new 3g iPhone either?

    Finnaly the data package. I will be honest, I am not sure if I even need the 10gig of data transfer I currently have availible on my current mobile tariff, I havent looked too much at the new mobile data tariffs from O2 to compare them to t-mobile either.

    So there is no way I will be getting the new phone either, right? Weeeeeell there is one issue. As Tink mentioned in the comments on the original post. The coverage of t-mobile is sketchy, particularly in Devon. It might be that the fact I need to be able to do a simple thing like call people on my mobile phone, regardless of which device it is, means I swap to O2, wich has great coverage ‘down south’. If I was doing that anyway, it would be rude not to upgrade 😀

    Nokia N95 Firmware Update to 21.0.016 and adds FlashLite 3 Support

    As many people will have seen yesterday Nokia release a fairly major update to the N95 firmware. One of the major bonuses for flash developers is the inclusion of FlashLite 3 as standard onto the device, both as a standalone player and within the browser. For those using detection scripts the player version reported in the browser is:

    PlayerVersion: FL 8,1,55,0

    You can see a FlashLite version test movie here..

    Related to this I found myself in the situation where the Nokia Software Updater would not allow me to install the new firm ware, my t-mobile branded phone was just such a device. A quick search and it seems that devices on certain service providers are locked from the update. However there are always round such restrictions. Below is how to modify your Nokia N95 product code so that it is unlocked for applying new firmware updates.

    WARNING THIS PROCESS MAY BRICK YOUR PHONE, VOID YOUR WARRANTY AND ANY NUMBER OF OTHER TERRIBLE THINGS. DO NOT DO THIS IF YOU ARE IN ANYWAY UNSURE OF THE CONSEQUENCES. I ACCEPT NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY NASTY THINGS THAT HAPPEN TO YOU, YOUR DEVICE OR ANY ACTION YOUR SERVICE PROVIDER TAKES AFTER FOLLOWING THESE LINKS AND INSTRUCTIONS

    That said, I only had one minor hiccup in the whole process, and it seems I am not the only one to have experienced it. I for got to mention that to Mike on MSN 😀

    Right with that out the way, on to the fun.

    1. First off BACK UP YOUR DEVICE! make sure you have a back up of the memory card and also the device memory.
    2. In order to install the new 21.0.016 firmware you will also want to make sure you have the following software.

    * Download the latest version of Nokia PC Suite.
    * Download the Nemesis Service Suite.

    3. Next read this post, it provides a list of the available product codes for the N95.
    4. Finally you should make sure you read this post, it covers how to update the product code on the N95.

    As I began to progress through the steps outlined on changing the product code of my Nokia N95 mobile phone there were a couple of items where I was left to ‘take a leap of faith’.

    1. When installing Nemesis Service Suite I left the device connection as the default virtual USB device. And that seemed to be the right thing to do.
    2. When deciding on a new product code for the device I chose the one for EURO1 Plum, this appears to have worked fine for my location and device. I have a silver/grey Nokia N95 and am based in the UK.

    Once the product code was updated on the mobile phone the Nokia Software Updater worked fine to allow me to upgrade to the latest 21.0.016 firmware.

    Curse my slow blogging skills, beat to the post. 😀

    Nokia N830 WiMAX Tablet Leaked

    Another week and another Nokia device makes its way onto the information super highway, this time courtesy of a BestBuy sales flyer. The rumor mill has begun speculating whether the black internet tablet pictured is the new Nokia N830 the WiMax equipped version of the N810 internet tablet. The N810 you will recall is the Linux based internet tablet that comes pre-installed with the Adobe® Flash® 9 player to support video and audio streaming, among other things :D, you can see the specs of the N810 here.

    Credit where its due:
    Into Mobile
    Internet Tablet Talk
    Tablet Blog