PR 1.1 may have ruined my Nokia N8

So, you heard about the PR 1.1 update hitting various Symbian^3 devices over-the-air (OTA) or via Ovi Suite or the Software Updater tool. Well, here’s my cautionary tale of how PR 1.1 brought nothing but trouble to my Nokia N8. I ran the Software Update application on my Nokia N8 and got the message that the “N8 Device software” update was available.
PR 1.1 available for the Nokia N8 About PR 1.1 for the Nokia N8
I dutifully backed up my phone and started the process of updating my phone. After my phone rebooted and the update worked its magic, I was *very* surprised to see that all my installed apps and settings were still present. I didn’t think anything of this, but in my experience with firmware updates like this, *everything* gets formatted and I essentially expected to be starting from a fresh plate. After the update, I noticed the little changes like portrait orientation for the dialer tool, etc. What I also noticed was a slew of issues like windows were displayed weirdly i.e. only half of the window was visible on my screen, and problems maintaining a WiFi connection. I was bummed out and decided a reformat (*#7370# in the dialer) was in order. After the reformat, I expected that the Ovi Store application would be pre-installed on the phone as reported on Nokia’s websites. Alas, that was not to be. I couldn’t launch the Ovi Store application despite the words, “Ovi Store”, showing up in the Application Manager. In fact, tapping the Store icon only redirected me to a webpage when I was instructed to download the .sis file for the Ovi Store. Attempting to install this .sis file resulted in an “Unable to install” message. The story and my facts thus far:

  1. I updated Nokia N8 to PR 1.1 via an OTA update through the Software update application
  2. After the PR 1.1 update, all my applications and settings were still present on my phone. These applications included several Nokia Beta Labs apps like Battery Monitor, Mobile Documents, Nokia Bots, etc. The PR 1.1 update didn’t come with any special instructions for handling.
  3. After reformatting my PR 1.1 device, the Nokia N8 was essentially DOA because without the Ovi Store, I have no apps.
  4. Update: 3:32pm: For whatever reason, Ovi Suite did not have this option to reinstall the firmware on my Nokia N8 when the borked N8 was connected via USB. Will put up a screenshot later.

Right now, pissed is an understatement. I called the Nokia Support line and after doing 2 rounds with Customer Service level 1 folk, I was bumped to a Level 2 technician who finally figured out that something super screwy was going on. To make this long story short: I was issued a shipping slip, filled out a repair request and was told to ship my Nokia N8 to a Nokia Care center. I’m stuck without a primary phone for at least 2 weeks while the Nokia Care Center attempts to reflash the phone. I have never had to send any of my devices for reflashing and I’m very apprehensive. Thankfully, my phone is still under warranty, but I would feel incredibly shafted if this had happened when I was out of warranty. You can check on your phone’s warranty status with Nokia by visiting this site and entering your serial/IMEI number. Now, I’m scared because if the future updates destined for the N8 feel as untested and as coarse as PR 1.1, then N8 users are in for a world of hurting. In any case, there’s a silver lining to this story though: A) My contract with AT&T expires soon and this means it’s upgrade time. Android (HTC Inspire 4G) is looking mighty fine and I’ve entered ChipChick’s contest for the HTC Inspire 4G, but the following things about the N8 keeps me from throwing my hands up:

  1. I absolutely love the camera on the Nokia N8.
  2. free Navigation, USB on-the-go, etc. Go read my original post about why I chose the Nokia N8

B) I should be receiving a two week trial of a Nokia C7 and the Nokia BH-905i headset so I’ll be using & reviewing these items and should have a write-up of my thoughts on them. Wish me luck and let me know if you’ve had nothing but trouble from PR 1.1 on your Symbian ^ 3 devices. 🙂

Update: My thoughts on the Nokia BH-905i headset have been published!

Ovi Store Blues

I love the Ovi Store for simplifying what used to be an exhausting method of purchasing Symbian apps. Before the Ovi Store, purchasing a Symbian application was an exhausting cycle of:

  1. Searching for your app online and with luck, landing directly on the developers website or the many online marketplaces which include Handango, PenReader, or Handmark, etc.
  2. Purchasing that app using their payment processor of choice. Remembering to keep that email invoice safe by printing out the receipt or permanently storing in your e-mail inbox in case when you replaced your phone and needed to reinstall the app. With Handango, you would get charged a download fee if 30 days have passed since your first purchase so you not only have to keep your invoices, you have to save a copy of the installation file (.sis or .sisx).
  3. If you’ve replaced your phone, installing your purchased app involves the following:
    • Email the developers with your purchase details and IMEI number.
    • Wait anywhere from 24hr – 4 days for a response with a link to the new installation file
    • Unfortunately for Nokia users & developers, there are 3 “versions” of Symbian that they may have to support if they wanted to cater to all markets.If you’re lucky, you might not get charged extra if you moved from a non-touchscreen phone like the Nokia E71x to a touchscreen phone like the Nokia N8.

Needless to say, I’ve become a digital packrat with copies of (almost) every Windows (Mobile), Android, Symbian application I’ve ever purchased. So, I was very relieved when the Ovi Store came out because I finally had a source that would *always* be available for me to download from. When you purchase an app on the Ovi Store with either a credit card (you’ll have to pop out your SIM for this option if you are in the USA) or operator billing (i.e. you get billed when you get your monthly phone bill), you get an email receipt of your purchase and the Ovi Store stores this information so that reinstalling your app is as easy as clicking the “Download” button that will appears on apps you’ve purchased or downloaded before.

Unfortunately, there is a fly in this ointment. Did you know that if you click the “Download” button 5 times, you will be prevented from further downloads of the app that you paid for? I experiment with my phone a lot by using a lot of Nokia Beta Labs applications and other .sis/.sisx files that I find online. Rather often, I run into issues that I have no idea of troubleshooting and for me, reformatting is the easiest option. With my latest reformat, I was greeted with this message when I attempted to download Angry Birds, the $1.99 application I purchased and blogged about here:

Exhibit #1: Angry Birds
Blocked from Downloading Angry Birds on Ovi Store

Exhibit #2: SoundHound
You need to update this application to a newer version that is compatible with your current phone mode

The notification reads: “You need to update this application to a newer version that is compatible with your current phone model“. For crying out loud, SoundHound was one of the first applications I bought for my Nokia N8 and I freaking blogged about that in this article about Ovi Maps Improvements and Some Recommended Apps on the Nokia N8!

Before I did the kneejerk “tweet about how horrible the Ovi Store is and threaten to blog about it” thing, I did the following:

  1. I opened up a support request here:
  2. Then, I sent a tweet to @NokiaCareUS and asked for their intervention.
    .bbpBox32208253072965630 {background:url( #9AE4E8;padding:20px;} p.bbpTweet{background:#fff;padding:10px 12px 10px 12px;margin:0;min-height:48px;color:#000;font-size:18px !important;line-height:22px;-moz-border-radius:5px;-webkit-border-radius:5px} p.bbpTweet span.metadata{display:block;width:100%;clear:both;margin-top:8px;padding-top:12px;height:40px;border-top:1px solid #fff;border-top:1px solid #e6e6e6} p.bbpTweet span.metadata{line-height:19px} p.bbpTweet span.metadata img{float:left;margin:0 7px 0 0px;width:38px;height:38px} p.bbpTweet a:hover{text-decoration:underline}p.bbpTweet span.timestamp{font-size:12px;display:block}

    @NokiaCareUS I reformatted my #N8 2x in the 24hrs and I’m getting a “max # of download attempts reached” msg for Angry Birds!less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

To Nokia’s credit, @NokiaCareUS got back to me and shortly afterwards, sent me a direct link to download my Angry Birds installation file! As for my SoundHound app, I couldn’t find my email invoice. Expecting the trust bar to be raised higher for a $4.99 app, I went ahead & re-purchased it. This time, I printed my email invoice. 🙂

.bbpBox33283858484961280 {background:url( #C0DEED;padding:20px;} p.bbpTweet{background:#fff;padding:10px 12px 10px 12px;margin:0;min-height:48px;color:#000;font-size:18px !important;line-height:22px;-moz-border-radius:5px;-webkit-border-radius:5px} p.bbpTweet span.metadata{display:block;width:100%;clear:both;margin-top:8px;padding-top:12px;height:40px;border-top:1px solid #fff;border-top:1px solid #e6e6e6} p.bbpTweet span.metadata{line-height:19px} p.bbpTweet span.metadata img{float:left;margin:0 7px 0 0px;width:38px;height:38px} p.bbpTweet a:hover{text-decoration:underline}p.bbpTweet span.timestamp{font-size:12px;display:block}

@janetalkstech Just resent your content to you. Sorry for the inconvenience. U might get the link again if u already sent a care request.less than a minute ago via Spredfast

Moral lesson of this very late blog post: Hitting the “5 installs” limit on the Ovi Store is not a death sentence. Open a support ticket or send a tweet @NokiaCaresUS (make sure you follow them so you can provide personal information privately).

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, 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 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


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 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.