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Firmware Suggestions: Software improvements I'd like to see in the Nokia N97

| July 27, 2009 | 16 Replies

I just read an email from the WOM crew [the Don ;)]inviting me to a “virtual Q&A session” to discuss the latest firmware release (V11.0.021), where we see the N97 going in the future and what we’d like to see in future updates. This will take place on Thursday.

I’m absolutely shattered right now and just want to go to bed, but here are some of my suggestions I’m quickly gonna jot down . They’re just how I feel would improve my experience with the N97, the ideas which you may likely disagree with as you might have different needs, if so please feel free to shoot them down , maybe add your own suggestions too.

Now – the handset I’m using has a couple of faults (Voice dialling [though this works after hard reset, but fails again after memory card restore] and GPS [cannot get a GPS fix]) which I’m not too entirely sure how it affects other software aspects, so I’m not at all certain that bugs I encounter will be bugs you’ll encounter too (e.g. icon fonts spontaneously changing size when set to small). So I’ll either update with the bugs tomorrow and/or update with your suggestions of bug fixes.

Suggestions:

1. Keyboard

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  • When pressing shift, leave shift on. This is for both caps lock and inputting numbers/symbols.
  • Long pressing over a number gets you that number. e.g. instead of “RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR” you get “4”
  • Since the fullstop/comma/apostrophe are all annoyingly on the same button, the first keypress should be fullstop, two in a row gets comma and three get’s apostrophe. If you want to quickly have several fullstops then press “back” on the Dpad and the fullstop quickly. This is how I did it on traditional Nokia keypads and it’s still the best option for the N97 (for me, anyways) unless it miraculously receives a dedicated button for it.

2. Browser

  • Let the user have the option when they want to see the toolbar and when they want to hide it. Don’t leave it there to randomly decide upon its own choosing when to disappear and let me have the fullscreen view again. i.e. If I tap it, I see the toolbar, if I tap it again, it disappears.
  • Keep the progress bar there until it’s actually finished with the page! Sometimes it disappears, and you think the page has finished/frozen but no, it’s loading, it’s just that the bar is gone. (Then I press the toolbar to check, and oh, it’s stuck there for some predetermined time)
  • From Opera Mini: Pressing back immediately goes back to the previous page, without having to reload it. Yeah, that multi-window thing is nice, but it’s much quicker to press back a few times than to let the page reload (If it also allowed to quickly go forward again too, that would be a bonus)
  • Perhaps there could be an additional toolbar  (perhaps at the top) that when pressed shows you icons of your favourite sites (set via bookmark). A lot of the pages I browse are from a few main sites stuck in my bookmark toolbar, with just their icons. When in landscape, perhaps have a list of top 8? When in portrait, perhaps cut it down to first 5? Maybe if they’re feeling adventurous, for novice users have the icons set to the most visited on the N97 – though this may be a resource hog.
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some icons in by FireFox bookmark toolbar. The N97 would render a lot of these applications redundant, having a better dedicated application instead. e.g. Facebook/Nokia Messaging/BBC iPlayer/Amazon/Gravity (for twitter) leaving me space to fill it up with other top book marks instead.

  • Have keyboard short cuts!!!!!!!!!! There’s a whopping 33 buttons (not including the D-Pad) which do absolutely NOTHING except help in text input. Going back to the opera mini point, I love how simply pressing delete lets me go back a page. One click. Done. Pressing “1” gives me a toolbar/menu which I can easily escape from. I understand that takes away from optimizing a touch interface, but what’s the point of having that keyboard there if you’re not going to take advantage of it?
  • When zooming in web pages, please stay zoomed in at that level until I manually zoom out myself. I don’t like having to constantly tap or set the zoom-slider again and again after each new web page.

Camera

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  • Unless we go do the double icon columns as seen in the Samsung i8910 and Sony Ericsson Satio, the four big icons on the side must be extremely useful/important. The camera icon to take a picture is insanely redundant! We have a freakin shutter button for goodness sake. Perhaps change that with something more useful, i.e. switch to video (and vice versa in video mode)
  • When I change a setting, sometimes, I maybe done and just want to take the photo. But you can’t because you have to exit out of that menu first. Either let me take the photo with the settings window still overlapping, or, bring up the settings when you cover up the light sensor, and then hide them when you take your thumb off (the latter for optimal use with two hands, although this may not work in pitch black/extreme low light)
  • The camera UI itself needs a bit of an overhaul
  • Most likely, not possible, but have 16:9 photos, using up the entire screen?
  • Not necessary at all, I just liked the option to make time lapse videos with that function. Really like how fast sequence mode is now, it truly is burst mode (though crashes some times).
  • In video mode – could we have the option to turn video light on or off whilst taking the video?

UI Feel/Effects

  • Continuity, Continuity, Continuity.
  • Kinetic scrolling should be possible wherever scrolling is applicable. Normal scrolling is not fun with touch! i.e. Menu/contacts (as seen in 5530)/all other apps
  • UI effects – even with Theme Effects on, UI effects is PANTS! Even the 5800 has better theme effects. Have some minimize/maximise animations when closing/opening/switching apps. Even something like making that sliding animation (when you bring up options or dialler) would have been nice enough.
  • Transition effects are pants. I really like how nice Nokia PhotoBrowser looks, especially in terms of dealing with rotation. Take a look also at  the video of what we were supposed to expect from the N97.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOE2LBvksi0]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YU7KA86ri2o]

  • Auto rotate screen should be left on as default.
  • Closing the QWERTY does not mean I want to view the phone in portrait mode. Most times, I just want to hide the keyboard after inputting some text. That’s all. I still want to use the phone in landscape. However, unless you turn auto-rotate on (which should be ON by default btw!), you’re going to be stuck in portrait. And even if you did turn auto-rotate on, the N97 will still switch to portrait, then switch back to landscape (when it should never have switched at all!). See Nokia PhotoBrowser again, as this best deals with rotation.
  • Resolving the 1tap or 2tap issue (make everything accessible by just 1 tap only please!)
  • Possibly have a 4×5 grid, and maybe have a similar autohide feature for the toolbar? (That damn toolbar takes up so much room! See full rant >>here<<)

Other

  • More Widget Support – There are growing numbers of apps for the N97, but not as many that can become a home screen widget. Always let me have the option to install something to mass memory. (Sometimes Ovi Store automatically installs it to where it wants)
  • When Installing something to mass memory, does phone memory have to be eaten up to? Is it possible to just leave that phone memory alone? It’s so astonishingly microscopic, I wouldn’t have cared, given the 29.8GB memory, I thought I’d never use that 61MB (from deep reset), but no.
  • When backing up to memory card, restoring should bring back everything. After a deep reset, restoring only got back my contacts and some settings. No messages, not my modified menu layout, not my apps annoyingly installed on phone (I can deal with the latter).
  • A lot of things are buried in menus that should not be. e.g. Ovi Sync, connectivity. By all means, add them to settings but don’t remove the dedicated app.
  • Slightly better connectivity management. When browsing within WLAN, then cutting off, I’d expect N97 to switch to GSM data but it doesn’t. It just gets confused, needing a restart of the browser/app.
  • Gallery does not recognize images previously taken by N97 after a deep reset (still stored on mass memory). – Though gallery isn’t really worth using when you install Nokia Photo Browser (I love that App!)
  • RAM improvements
  • General Speed improvements.

App specific improvements

  • Facebook  app needs further updating to be more aligned to current facebook features. Even at least to a couple or more months back. i.e. Hiding some contacts/viewing contact feed filter/viewing my own/friends statuses from profile thus letting me reply/add comments to those statuses (not only in feeds). Perhaps being able to zoom in on photos/save a photo?
  • N-Gage app – poor implementation of touch. Even Bounce isn’t touch (it was on 5800). Poor execution of keyboard keys. Could have been an excellent gaming form factor, but only real usable key is the D-Pad. Why also isn’t it full screen?
  • Homescreen App – Multiple Homescreens? I absolutely love the homescreen thing – great when really busy/in work, quick glance, I know my last 2 emails, last 3 tweets, last 3 facebook statuses, last 3 news headlines, in one second.-

Perhaps, 3 homescreens accessible by horizontal swiping. e.g. from the main/middle homescreen:

  • a swipe left could change the layout to a work oriented homescreen – emails/stocks/news/calendar
  • a swipe right could change the layout to a “home” homescreen – music player/facebook/bbc iPlayer

Video: Behind the new Nokia homescreen – multiple homescreens coming soon?

Future?

  • Possible compatibility with New Symbian Foundation OS?

OK OK OK – My brain is seriously going to explode I’m so tired. There are still things I wanted to add….

  • for a blank homescreen, you could have vertical (up/downward) swipe – or being greedy – just have the upward swipe for blank homescreen and have a downward swipe for the classic/5800 style homescreen?
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    Category: 5th Edition, Nokia, Nseries, Rant, S60, Suggestions, Symbian, Video

    About the Author ()

    Hey, thanks for reading my post. My name is Jay and I'm a medical student at the University of Manchester. When I can, I blog here at mynokiablog.com and tweet now and again @jaymontano. We also have a twitter and facebook accounts @mynokiablog and  Facebook.com/mynokiablog. Check out the tips, guides and rules for commenting >>click<< Contact us at tips(@)mynokiablog.com or email me directly on jay[at]mynokiablog.com