The new Nokia N9 UI

Nokia Marketing Manager Jussi Mäkinen explains the new Nokia N9 UI in this video. I found myself going “huh?” a number of times watching this – maybe you have an explanation.

Watch this video on YouTube or on Easy Youtube.

0:06 He taps the screen of the blue N9, but it doesn’t wake up (it requires a double tap, right?)

0:23 After waking it up it needs another swipe to do something productive other than displaying the clock. Isn’t that on the application screen, too? What’s on that screen that can not be had on the other screen? He never comes back again to this screen during the presentation; at the end he specifically only goes through the three other screens.

0:46 Event view has all the social feeds, nice. Can you filter them by origin? Jussi says this would also have missed calls and messages – is there another information other than event view? I fear they will simply disappear between tweets and RSS feeds…

1:20 The multitasking view is nice – but I wonder how useful it becomes when you have lots of open apps. Is there a way to close apps from this view? If you select an app it slides in from the left edge, which nicely fits sliding to the left to get back at the multitasking view.

2:23 Video starts in horizontal even though you need to turn the phone to watch. The iPhone does the same thing sometimes, but I would really prefer to start the video in the correct orientation, in this case zoomed to the vertical orientation (i.e. smaller).

2:37 Why do I now swipe from the left to go back to the multitasking screen??? That feels wrong.

2:52 Most recently used app goes to the top left corner. Nice.

3:11 When he opens Facebook from the multitasking screen it slides in from the bottom. Huh?

I also noticed that quite often the screen wouldn’t react to what he tried to do (I had to watch the video three times because he also talks a lot with his hand, which I first mistook as trying to do something on the phone).

I quite like the UI (apart from the things mentioned above), it’s certainly an improvement over previous UIs, and a good step towards catching up with other touch screen UIs.

The Nokia strategy still puzzles me – as a consumer I’m confused about what the future platform will be, and I’d be hesitant to invest in apps for a platform that they may decide to leave in favor of the next one. At this time I would have expected them to show a Windows Mobile 7 device.

It’s 2009, and Nokia *still* does not get USB

Over the last few weeks, I played with two new Nokia Series 40 phones, the Nokia 6600i, a beautiful Slider with 5 MP camera and metal case, and the Nokia 3720c, a great candy bar phone with excellent battery life and great reception (the only phone so far that will work flawlessly in my basement office).

The 6600i came with a 15cm short MicroUSB cable, and much to my surprise, this was the first Nokia phone that actually charged the battery through that cable.
But here’s the kicker: instead of supplying a small USB adapter for wall outlets, Nokia puts another one of the stupid ‘ant dick’ chargers in the package. This, of course, means that they also build a second completely useless jack as a counterpart. Waste of electronics and space.

Of course, when I plugged in the 6600i‘s MicroUSB cable into a standard USB plug that I use to charge my iPhone and other US devices, it refused to charge the phone.

The Nokia 3720c came without a USB cable, and will of course also NOT charge through the CA-101 USB data cable.

Way to go, Nokia, way to go…

By the way, it’s nearly the 5th anniversary of me complaining about that ;)

Nokia N79 Eco – epic green FAIL

When I first read the article, I made sure it wasn’t April 1st already.

“We understand you don’t always need another charger. So, when you buy this Nokia N79 online, it comes without one. All we’re asking is that you keep hold of your old Nokia charger, and use it again. It’s part of a trial to save energy and reduce waste, so it comes in a smaller box too, and for each one we sell we’ll donate £4 to WWF, the global conservation organization”

WTF? Who are they trying to fool here? I’ve been complaining about Nokia avoiding USB like the plague for 4 years now.

Granted, nearly all Nokia phones have USB connectors now, but they’re also the only phones with USB connectors that don’t charge via USB. Nokia even has the guts to sell a ridiculously overpriced USB charger!

A joke. And a bad one.

Nokia N97 – Another (long) shot at getting back at Apple

So, here it is, Nokia’s new flagship smartphone – The Nokia N97:

My first thought: haven’t we seen that before…?

Oh, yes:

If I were HTC,I’d take a shot at suing them. Looks eerily similar, doesn’t it?

But that aside, do I think it’s the iPhone killer? First of all, what is it with all the manufacturers trying to come out with an iPhone killer in the first place?
I think they should be happy that Apple showed them what they seem to have forgotten, but what matters most to consumers.

Scoble puts it best:

“Now, can you count Nokia out yet? No way. It has the biggest slice of the cell phone marketshare pie. Its devices are much better engineered than Apple’s are (GPS on Nokia is better, so are the antennas, the cameras, and bluetooth radios that Nokia uses). But engineering does NOT equal a great experience. Yeah, my Nokia does not drop phone calls in places in Silicon Valley that my iPhone does, but generally I reach for the iPhone when I want to make a call or surf the web. Why?

Nokia is behind in experience. The executives here from Nokia that I’ve talked to know that. They know this is Nokia’s touchiest week and one where they either deliver a much better device or they are going to face a very tough 2009 globally.”

And this is something that they will not be able to match that quickly, as this is what Apple worked on building for the last 7 years. Not only did they come out with the technology, they also broke barriers like noone else, making MP3 files available as a download, offering movies and TV series, integrating podcasts and generally caring for users’ needs like only they can.

Compare the experience of buying a great piece of Symbian Series 60 software through Handango with getting something on the iPhone in the AppStore. Go on, try it – you’ll know what I mean.

So is the N97 a great smartphone? It sure is. But not for people who like the iPhone for whatever reason.

iPhone vs. Symbian vs. Android

Tarek has written a well detailed post on why he prefers a Symbian S60 phone over the iPhone. Mainly he mentions technical reasons, such as lack of multitasking or the iPhone’s mediocre video and bluetooth features.

Google’s new Android phone, the G1, has gotten most of this weeks media attention. The funny thing is, it seems it’s even weaker on features than the iPhone, something like the mobile equivalent of Google’s Chrome browser. No Exchange support, no street view in Google Maps (remember – it’s a Google phone!), less memory.

I have to say, from an end user perspective, the iPhone is simply the best thing you can get. While some things may still be missing, you have to remember that Apple has not even been in this game for one year. Compare the usability of the iPhone with what Nokia came up with after 10 years of Symbian S60. I find it hard to believe that they will suddenly start seeing the light and making their phones user friendly.

User Experience has always been Apple’s specialty. The integration with an iPhone gives you music and entertainment capabilities that the competition will have a hard time catching up with. You may lament the forced link to iTunes, but frankly, I don’t get that – do people really prefer to manage their 16 GB music library by pushing mp3 files into folders manually? The there’s the music store, which lacks any comparable representation from competing vendors. Nokia is starting their music game with the Nokia Music Store, but even though they’ve had a 9 xear head start, they’re at least 5 years behind with that.

The App Store is another iPhone instant hit. True, banning the podcasting app is not good, and yes, it’s a kind of lock-in, but still: if you’re a developer, what do you prefer – put your stuff in Nokia’s Download Store with a horrible shopping experience (don’t get me started on Nokia’s strange certificate methodology, which will force you to reset your brand new phone’s clock to last year to make the phone accept your application), or Apple’s one-click App Store that might just make you rich pretty fast?

I really do understand all the anti-lock-in and Symbian-is-such-an-open-platform complaints, but think about it: what’s the system that makes life easier for you? Apple’s control over the iPhone user experience is exactly what makes it such a compelling offer for users. For me, that’s all what counts.

If I want to fiddle with stuff, I’ll buy a train set.