N900, new firmware PR1.2 - failure or success?

    Good day, habrachelovek. Continuing my series of articles about the Nokia N900. I understand that the title renders “yellowness,” but I really wanted to reflect the essence of the article.
    What will be discussed in this article and for whom is it? I address the article:
    • Existing N900 users
    • those who choose the phone;
    • eyeing the N900 with the prospect of acquiring it;
    • those who are not going to change their current "not N900" to the N900;
    • those who will never become the owners of the Nokia N900 on their own convictions or by chance;
    • awaiting the release of the N9 with MeeGo on board;
    • those who are tired of reading about the iPhone 4G :-).

    That is, for everyone who is interested in the world of mobile technology. Why should everyone be interested? Yes, because in this article I will try to talk about how the policy of promoting Nokia’s new development direction (Maemo / MeeGo) is conducted today and in the future, and not only in terms of marketing but also in terms of software support. I will do this exponential analysis on the example of Nokia PR 1.2, which was released recently.
    Everything stated here is a subjective point of view and is not an expert assessment. The topic is very interesting and difficult, but it can be useful for long-term planning (at least as “one more point of view”) or simply to satisfy curiosity.
    And I will answer the question whether there will be MeeGo on the N900 !!!

    1. The bottom line

    So, on May 24/25, 2010, the long-awaited (naturally by N900 users) firmware for the N900 was released. What does it mean? Undoubtedly, this is the correction of errors and the addition of new functionality, but this is not the main thing. The main essence of this event is a serious step in the reorganization of the marketing and software business model of the largest mobile concern - Nokia.
    However, some users are not happy and criticize Nokia's behavior. So let's try to figure out whether this "anger" is justified.
    First, let's discuss what has changed in the N900 and why I personally think this update is revolutionary in terms of new software functionality.
    Then I will tell you why this firmware is a huge step in promoting the mobile market in general and plays such an important role in maintaining Nokia’s market position.
    In the end I will make a small note for developers.

    2. Software changes.

    I will not copy the entire list of changes here, those who are interested can find it here . I will go a little different way.
    What did the users expect, what did they miss? I read a lot of forums, looked at reviews and analyzed the output of applications. Based on this, I can offer my list of the most missing functions (before the release of PR1.2).
    • 3G video calls.
    • Skype video calls.
    • Jingle video calls (almost all XMPP clients are Jabber, GTalk).
    • SIP video calls.
    • USSD (this is when you enter something like * 1234 #)
    • MMS (it’s not clear at all why initially there is no such nonsense)
    • Equalizer.
    • Portrait mode.

    Still, very many would like to get the opportunity to transfer the USB port to "host" mode, for connecting external devices (keyboard, flash drives, hard drives ...), but this is unlikely to ever happen. But nothing is impossible. To whom this topic is interesting, then you are here . More recently, I came across a post in which they seemed to demonstrate the ability to connect devices with power consumption <200mA and promised soon details.
    These points prevented people from breathing. Some of them could be understood, but some (USSD and MMS for example) practically did not fit in the head. How can a high-tech revolutionary device be released without the support of such basic functionality!?
    In general, the release of PR1.2 was late but took place. What users of N900 did not wait?
    • MMS
    • Equalizer
    • Portrait mode (almost)
    • 3G video calls

    The first two points just shocked me. That is why the public is indignant! What is it? Again crutches instead of MMS in the form of fMMS? The equalizer in GStreamer'e is apparently also very hard work! Although it is possible to install the plug-in - equalizer for GStreamer - mafw-gst-renderer, but it is not very optimized and consumes a lot of resources (not quite what you need to listen to music, right?).
    Regarding 3G calls, it is also unclear. In general, the telephone functions are “lame” initially. But since many phones (even non-smartphones) have a front camera and the ability to video via 3G networks, it would be logical to assume that this type of video communication will be the most popular.
    Portrait mode is present in the browser, and some other programs (mail, favorites, SMS ...), but people were waiting for a portrait phone, like Symbian. Of course this is a keyboard slider, but this is a phone !!! Work in this direction is underway, and gradually the phone still acquires a "portrait".
    Here , for example, there is a discussion about a portrait on-screen keyboard.
    I’ll say that browsing in portrait mode is very convenient, but it wasn’t possible to take a screenshot (for this you need to press a combination of keys on the device, and when you open the keyboard, the device goes into horizontal mode, which is logical). It should be noted that portrait mode in my browser was turned off by default. In order to enable it, you need to set the appropriate "bird" in the properties.
    We can say that the problem was half solved.
    Amount: three and a half mins.
    Now about what came from the list.
    • Skype video calls are really great, thanks guys. I'll talk about this later, but I am delighted with this opportunity!
    • Jingle (video extension for XMPP) - earlier it was possible to make calls from video to GTalk, but video only worked if they called you. Now you can initiate a video chat using Jingle. In fact, this is a bugfix, not an innovation.
    • SIP video - I can’t say anything, I can’t even check, but it’s good to have it.
    • USSD - well, everything just works here, thanks.

    Here you can also put 3 and a half plus.
    And so is equilibrium.
    I would not say that everything is very cool, but I will not say that everything is bad. Compared to competitors, there is a huge number of unique features that are only on this platform. And it attracts many. And this update has increased this list.
    Less significant “features” that did not come with firmware:
    • Ovi Suite support
    • contact groups.

    What can be distinguished from the innovations:
    • integrated FaceBook chat;
    • file manager can send files (sharing plugin, broomstick, mail) (death to “Petrovich”);
    • OVI Maps interface has become much more convenient, simpler and faster;
    • contextual search for applications in the list in the application manager;
    • increased battery life (optimization affected apparently);
    • the volume control works when the phone is locked;
    • missed calls and messages are displayed in the blocking window (convenient);
    • EAP-TTLS + PAP authorization type for Wi-Fi connections is available.

    3. Well, what does all this mean?

    Now I’ll try to tell why all this is so important. Here is a list of key points, below we will understand why they are so important:
    1. Qt 4.6 built-in
    2. Qt Mobility 1.0.0
    3. Nokia Qt SDK
    4. Video Skype / Jingle / SIP
    5. adding social services

    The first three points can be combined together. Firmware PR 1.2 is Qt “out of the box” on the device. Which automatically makes Qt applications native to the Maemo platform. Qt Mobility 1.0.0 is an add-on for Qt that adds a cross-platform API for accessing phone features. Thus, Qt is now the official development framework for the N900. And all applications written using Qt + Qt Mobility will automatically work on three platforms - Symbian, Maemo and MeeGo. And you can develop these applications cross-platform using the Nokia Qt SDK (more in this in my article ).
    The second very important point is the addition of video calls over the network. Now the “Video Call” item is available in the user's contacts, if his client supports (it was said for Skype that the latest version was needed (the number was not specified), I checked and works with Skype on Windows and Mac OS, there is no way to check on Linux).
    Who used it knows that Skype / Gtalk / SIP video on the N900 is not much different from a simple 3G video - small pictures of rather poor quality of the interlocutors. Not quite what most expect :-)
    Here is a screenshot of the communication session:
    Since the video display is implemented on the “overlays” (it is displayed on the screen using the video adapter, bypassing the window system), it was not possible to get the pictures in the screenshot, so I marked in red areas where the images of the interlocutors are displayed during communication.
    But there is one big “BUT”, gradually the video comes to mobile devices, and the braking was associated with a lot of factors - not the readiness of the software / hardware platforms to encode / decode the video, not the readiness of the mobile networks to transmit such traffic (who will tell me that in Moscow has no problems with this - I’ll throw a stone at that :-), I’ve never been able to talk on Skype via Skype on GPRS normally, I’m silent about the video), the video services themselves did not consist. Of course, in different countries and in different regions of one country, the situation with mobile data transmission is different, but it is a common global service and it is important that it is available everywhere.
    So, they have been shouting for a long time: "The video is coming." There were announcements of technologies, implementations ...., but the main video chat providers today are Skype, Gtalk, MSN, Yahoo. And it’s already clear what exactly they will bring the video to the mobile world.
    And here is the first timid step - Skype video on the N900. Given that there was already Gtalk video, we get a very powerful bunch of Skype / Gtalk / SIP video. For many, this will be news, but before that, no mobile device has supported Skype video. N900 became the first !!! This is a very significant event. The funny thing is that the N900 does not support 3G video calls, as if hinting at the failure of 3G video communications :-).
    Here is the beginning of the revolution and the vanguard of this revolution is the N900 !!!
    Thus, we have two revolutionary incidents: the arrival of cross-platform Qt on mobile platforms and the arrival of popular IP-video chats on the mobile market.
    UPD: when I finished this article, there was a presentation of the iPhone 4G, and at this presentation, Steve Jobs confirmed my thoughts on the topic of video communication. FaceTime is Apple’s solution and the interesting thing is that there are no 3G video calls in the iPhone 4G either. Although the presentation video on the iPhone 4G looks an order of magnitude better than on my N900, I believe that the N900 is ahead of its competitor in this regard for several reasons:
    • although FaceTime uses open standards, it takes time to popularize it as a communication standard, and Skype / GTalk / SIP is already popular and I can already use it;
    • FaceTime works only between iPhone 4G devices, and on the N900 you can make video calls to all Skype / GTalk / Jabber / SIP subscribers;
    • Video on the N900 works on any Internet connection (of course, quality depends on the speed, but video works on Turkish GPRS, please write down your results in the comments), and on the iPhone only via WiFi (which is generally not great if you have a working 3G network) ;
    • On the N900, most likely there will be support for calls to FaceTime (I don’t see any obstacles), then the appearance of Skype video on the iPhone is in question.

    I don’t want to make a comparative analysis of the iPhone 4G and N900 here, I just wanted to express my opinion about the onset of video communication. I wanted to notice that she already is! And my main thought is that the N900 is the flagship in this direction.
    Well, I’m glad that I did not find anything that “broke” with the release of the new firmware, and it pleases. Here's an example of what a hub looks like with a flash on a page:

    4. The view from the developer.

    Now a brief look from the side of the developer. I already wrote in detail about the Noka Qt SDK . There are detailed instructions on how to work with it and what restrictions exist, as well as how to get around them.
    • Nokia Qt SDK is an official development tool, while it is in the process of testing, but you can already use it. Support for firmware from version 1.2. (Do not confuse with the Qt SDK. The Qt SDK is a development kit on a desktop computer that includes the built-in Qt libraries, their sources and Qt Creator. In fact, this is a kit for downloading and you could write programs right away. But Nokia Qt SDK is a toolkit for writing applications for Nokia mobile platforms (today it is Symbian and Maemo)).
    • You need to start getting acquainted with Qt on Maemo with official documentation .
    • Qt examples for Maemo5 can be found in the extras-devel repository . The package is called libqt4-examples-maemo5. Read more here .

    A global change for developers is the Qt Mobility SDK 1.0.0. If you do not really understand why I so admire the appearance of this SDK, or want to know more, then read the documentation for examples with pictures .

    5. Conclusions.

    Despite the fact that some users are not happy with what PR 1.2 brought them, this is really a turning point in the development of a platform for Nokia and a huge event in the mobile market. The dynamics of the market development are very pleased, something wonderful happens every month. And only joyful events await us all. I look forward to the appearance of MeeGo for mobile platforms. But now you can start developing applications for Maemo, and if you do not use anything other than the Qt and Qt Mobility API, then the application will automatically work on the Symbian and MeeGo platform.
    I’m very pleased that Nokia’s direction to users and developers. New, fresh, good. Thanks guys.
    Now about whether there will be MeeGo on the N900. There will be no official support, according to an official statement, but with almost 100% probability it can be said that it will be possible to install MeeGo, but without official support. This is due to the fact that Nokia does not want to change the whole platform on debugged devices and assure that Nokia will continue to support Maemo even after the release of MeeGo. One can understand that after so many years of work on the project it is not easy to bury it so quickly. It's one thing if the project is already outdated morally - another thing is a modern competitive product. And I can immediately reassure those who are disappointed. Since Qt will be the main development tool for MeeGo, all applications will run on both MeeGo and Maemo. And what will happen next - we will find out in the future. It is safe to say that the coming year, the N900 will remain a relevant platform.

    Thus, I authoritatively declare: “PR 1.2 is not only a success, but also a significant event in the mobile world!” I invite those who do not agree to a duel in the commentary.

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