Category Archives: Nokia N8

Nokia N8 Repair Saga – Part 1

I sent my Nokia N8 (sometime around the last week of February) to a Nokia Care Center for repairs. Ostensibly, the problems were: bad screen flicker and trouble installing Ovi Store after an apparently botched PR 1.1 update Over-The-Air. On 03/16/2011, I received my Nokia N8 and spent much of my lunch break working on setting the phone backup up when I noticed several things going wrong at once. First, let me give you some background on what the repair process before I whine about the new problems my Nokia N8 returned with and Ovi Store drama

Verify Nokia Device Warranty StatusOnce I realized my N8 had reached the point where all the “Googling” didn’t yield any new insights, I decided to call the Nokia Customer Care line. This number is pre-programmed into the Nokia N8 when you first boot it up. After the techs at the Customer Support line had me do the customary troubleshooting techniques, it was determined my N8 was truly borked and would need a trip to a Nokia Care Center for repairs. Once you have reached this conclusion with the techs, the technician should send you a shipping label which will let you drop your phone off at a UPS Store without being charged. #ProTip: Spell out your email address so you won’t wait in vain for a shipping label that will never arrive. Make sure you also spell out your address which will be printed on the shipping label in case the package needs to be returned as undeliverable.You will also be required to fill out a “Repair request” form. But before you can fill out the form, you’ll need to verify your warranty status at an interstitial page by entering in your device’s IMEI number and your zipcode. Once you’ve been verified as being “in warranty” and you’ve filled out the repair request form, you should take note of the requirement that if you should ship out your phone within 10 days of verifying your warranty status, you won’t need to attach your proof of purchase.

However, if you ship the phone after 10 days have passed since you verified your warranty status, you would need to attach your proof of purchase. Once you dropped off your UPS package, all you can do is wait. Make sure you package the phone properly (formatted, with bubble wrap and sans your microSD/SIM cards) and I would recommend taking photographs of your phone’s physical condition if you can. You’ll never know if you need to provide proof of your phone’s condition if it comes back tarnished. When filling out the repair request form, you can request email updates of the phone’s repair status. I selected this option, but I found myself checking the site daily anyway. I had wrongly assumed I would be getting a new phone when I saw this update:

Well, color me surprised when I received my N8 only to find out that it was still the same phone I shipped to them. It turns out they must have replaced a defective component for my phone. Moral lesson: don’t read too much into the status updates. 🙂 But hey, I wasn’t complaining. After being without my N8 for ~ 3 weeks, I wasn’t complaining.

I began the task of copying my files to my microSD, setting up my Google contacts & calendar with the Nokia N8 and reinstalling my Ovi Store-bought apps. The first two tasks were completed in no time. However, I ran into one major problem with installing my Ovi Store paid apps:

You need to update this application to a newer version that is compatible with your current phone model.

Virtually, *ALL* of my paid apps were showing this message whenever I navigated to their Ovi Store app page. I’ve invested over $60 in Ovi Store apps so I was quite peeved as this new turn of events especially as I’ve had the same phone brand since December! I did my usual dance of pinging @NokiaUS on Twitter who then contacted @NokiaCareUS who, in turn, contacted me with instructions to send information to an email address. This matter is still ongoing and it was beginning to sound like it would need some research so I moved on to the important task of setting my music playlists, etc. That’s when I lost my mind: I discovered that the sound system on my poor Nokia N8 mysteriously developed a highly irritating stuttering effect while playing my music files and had a near-constant ‘hiss’ to it while playing.

At this point, I was choking on my disappointment and pissed that I was going to have to send my Nokia N8 for a second time to the Nokia Care Center. Right now, I’m torn between my feeling of extreme annoyance “I fucking hate Nokia’s QA” to being understanding about the matter (“Shit happens. Like receiving a bad unit. Or Sending your unit for repairs and coming back with bigger problems.”) At least I can be thankful that the support technician spared me the rote “troubleshooting” steps of reformatting my device or doing the “go to Ovi Suite and check for updates” routine as I told him I had just reformatted the damned thing and checked for updates (there were none; remember, the Nokia Care Center was supposed to have flashed the PR 1.1 firmware and fix lingering issues).

In any case, there’s an Android device in ATT’s online store with my name on it. At this rate, it’s beginning to look like I won’t have my Nokia N8 for another month. I’ve read horror stories of people having to send their phones to the Care Center more than four (4) times before finally getting a replacement device. Un-believable.
ATT Android phone

Experimenting with Ovi Maps Beta

I visited the Beta Labs at Nokia.com and decided to give their latest beta version of Ovi Maps for Symbian ^3 a try. The beta version of Ovi Maps is called version 3.06 10wk48 b01. Confusingly, the latest version (v.3.06 10wk46b01) of Ovi Maps for Symbian ^3 is also version 3.06. There are several differences between the beta version of Ovi Maps and the released version of Ovi Maps is, but the main reasons I decided to give the beta version a shot are these 2 new features which I didn’t receive in the ‘official’ version of Ovi Maps:

  1. Ability to download Maps in-device via WiFi: I can confirm that this feature works as advertised i.e. I downloaded a map of Corsica (don’t ask) to my phone. However, I tried to delete the map and turns out you can’t delete maps yet from the device. Turns out I can’t even delete maps once I’ve downloaded/installed them to my Nokia N8 period because I launched Ovi Suite 2 and my only choice was to delete ALL maps. Anyway, I’ve got 20gbs of space on my phone so I’m not in dire need of extra space yet. The ability to delete maps from the phone would be greatly appreciated. 🙂

    Ovi Maps Release vs Ovi Maps Beta

  2. Compass Calibration: When this is turned on, the map rotates as you turn the phone, but still points North to retain your bearings. ovi-maps-beta-compass.jpg

For more details on some beta features that made it into the official Ovi Maps application, check this post I wrote on Updates to Ovi Maps.

Improvements to Ovi Maps on the Nokia N8 and Some Recommended Symbian ^3 Apps

Since my last post about Gaming/Apps on the Nokia N8, several cool apps have been released and software updates pushed out to existing apps. This post will talk about the new & improved Ovi Maps available now, some apps I recommend (and like) for the N8, and a bone to pick with topApps on the Nokia N8.

  1. Ovi Maps
  2. Skype for Symbian
  3. WordPress for Symbian
  4. SoundHound for Symbian
  5. Loop App
  6. Fixing topApps and the Ovi Store

Ovi Maps – Improved

In my earlier posts, I recognized that the N8 isn’t perfect, but thankfully, Nokia is starting to take the first steps towards making the Nokia N8 a solid phone that I will be able to recommend without hesitation. I’ve touted the fact that Ovi Maps comes with free turn-by-turn navigation. However, for people totally new to the Symbian environment, using Ovi Maps can be quite frustrating especially if you need to “set it and forget it”. Well, with the latest update to the Ovi Maps (Nok Nok TV has a list of major changes) application (current version is v.3.06 10wk46b01), Nokia has improved the usability of Ovi Maps and here are some changes I’ve noticed:

  1. Ovi Maps Dashboard: The icons appears to have been given a fresh coat of paint Here’s what the current dashboard looks like:
    Ovi Maps v. 3.06 10wk46b01
  2. Driving/Walking to Places: From the Ovi Maps dashboard, you have 2 ways to start navigating:
    • Hit the “Search” button: From the “Search” screen, the portrait keyboard is brought up immediately and saves you another keystroke. For me, one of the better changes is that the font size on the Search/Categories screen has been increased. This was huge for me because most times I use Ovi Maps are when I are *already* in the car. My patience level for painstakingly entering my destination into Ovi Maps application is drastically lower so anything (in this case, it’s the larger font size) that reduces the user error is great in my book. Here’s what that screen looks like:
      Ovi Maps Search AddressesOvi Maps Search Categories
    • Hit the “Drive” button: This has been changed to make navigation much easier. To reiterate, I just want to get up and go. Ovi Maps *finally* makes that easier than it has ever been on Ovi Maps. Here’s what the screen looks like now:
      Drive To on Ovi Maps

  3. Map Interaction: Zooming in on maps with Ovi Maps is also easier and much improved. The previous version was choppy and I was also slightly leery of interacting with the maps. However, I’ve been very impressed with this latest iteration of “Pinch to zoom” on Ovi Maps. Here’s a short video showing how seamless zooming is on Ovi Maps:

Skype – Available for Symbian ^3

Short and sweet:Great app to have available for Symbian ^3 along with the other slew of VOIP apps like Fring, Nimbuzz available on the Ovi Store.
With regards to new & notable apps available for the Nokia N8, here’s one that should excite any heavy VOIP users: Skype is now available for Symbian^3! If you visit http://skype.com/m, your device will be detected and if supported, offer you a download link to the .sisx file. See the image below:
Skype on Nokia N8

WordPress for Nokia – Changed

Short and sweet: I am not really into mobile blogging as I’m almost always with my notebook everywhere I am. However, in a pinch, this is an excellent utility and deserves an install anyway. It works for the WordPress.com site as well as self-hosted WordPress installations. I hope to see a generic blogging client in the Ovi Store soon as (if you haven’t noticed) Habari powers this blog.

When I heard of this, I attempted to download and install approximately 6 times … and failed. I gave up for awhile and decided to install the app once more. This time, it worked but I encountered some easily surmountable issues. Not letting those stop me, I simply restarted the app and I was back in business! To create a post in the WordPress for Symbian app is pretty easy and I’m glad Nokia’s taking the initiative to assist developers in creating useful apps like these.

Main WordPress for Symbian
Create Post in WordPress for Symbian

SoundHound

Short and sweet: I wouldn’t call this a “must-have” app, but interestingly enough, I purchased it for my previous Android phone and now, purchased again for my Nokia N8. 🙂

Thankfully, the User Interface isn’t different from how it was on Android. The premise is simple: you’re somewhere and hear a tune you can’t place. Fire up SoundHound and it should spit out the song’s name and details on who sang it, etc. It’s pretty cool and you need an internet connection for it to work.
SoundHound on the Nokia N8

Loop – Music making app

Short and sweet: The Loop app is a free and *Really* fun application for making music. Absolutely get this if you want to spend hours creating serious or silly music hooks and amuse yourself by how ‘gangsta’ you sound. Someone made this little sample. Please be gentle. 😛

I was initially skeptical about how usable this app would be, but I was really blown away by how much detail the Nokia team put into this app. It comes with 9 pre-installed tracks (that are actually quite good): Detroit, DnB, Dubstep, French Electro, Fun, HipHop, Old School Hip Hop, Poodlism and Reggaeton. You can visit LoopApp.net to get user-contributed tracks too. You’ll have to download the Loop app to sample these tracks. 🙂 With the Loop app, you can add a ‘base’ (colored yellow) which would be any of the 9 tracks or one you create yourself!. Then, you have about 3 more layers of music/sounds/beats to add before you get greeted with the “tracks are filled up” message. From there, it’s easy to “merge” and add more music layers! Just go give it a shot, will ya? It’s free. While you’re at it, check out this pretty creative video/ad shot on the Nokia N8 and music provided by the Loop App! 🙂
Nokia N8 Loop AppNokia N8 Loop Track Editing

Fixing the Ovi Store/topApps

  1. One of the things I have to commend Nokia for doing is starting topApps which is another application that came preinstalled on the N8. It’s sort of like the Ovi Store, but for recommendations by Ovi Store staff. From the official description,

    topApps is a free application for use on Nokia touch-enabled devices (running S60 5th Edition), that features a homescreen widget for devices like the Nokia N97, and loads of details about content in Ovi Store that is referenced in ways that encourage exploration and discovery.

    This is great, but I sorta wish I didn’t have yet another obstacle between finding great apps to use. If the Featured, Reviewed or Staff Picks apps features are incorporated into the Ovi Store app, I would be one happy camper because that removes another hurdle towards easy app acquisition. Right now, items showcased on topApps are limited to a certain number and aren’t directly downloadable. The featured/reviewed apps are simply linked to their Ovi Store pages and then (if you’re like me), you still have to read reviews before OK-ing a download or purchase! However, I suspect that this merger would probably require a complete redesign of the current Ovi Store layout as you’ll see in the images below:
    TopApps on Ovi Store
    Nokia Ovi Store

  2. Another annoyance with the topApps application is the fact that everytime the application is started, it dutifully always requests access to user data and network connectivity, but only for that session. I’ve uninstalled and reinstalled the app so I don’t think I’m doing it wrong. This means everytime, I have to press “yes” twice (once to allow access to user data and the second time to allow the app to connect to the internet). Here’s the video proof that I’m not crazy :):
  3. Also, it appears that topApps is not a native N8 app because it constantly asks me for permissions to access the internet. Again, this is one of those areas where Nokia could have removed 2 more obstacles to viewing and eventually buying/downloading apps!
  4. I vented about not being able to buy apps with my credit card while my ATT SIM card’s in the phone. In an online conversation with someone knowledgeable, I learned that ATT mandated that user accounts should be billed for app purchases on the Ovi store. I am skeptical that there isn’t any hidden fee to this, but I guess I’ll find out when my cellphone bill arrives. I would have some good grounds to argue on especially as (a) I don’t have a data plan (b) ATT effectively makes apps purchases a needlessly arduous/painful experience.