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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.
ic

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.
  • 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
    • http://sionide.net/ Simon

      Some of your suggestions are really small fixes but will definitely make all the different in the overall usability of the device. I’m loving mine but will only love it all the more when they update some of the issues you mention. Let’s hope they listen up and take note of your thoughts… +1 is my vote on all these!!

      • Jay

        Yup – they’re all pretty much minor tweaks that are hopefully achievable in a new firmware.
        Cheers :)
        I thought something like getting rid of the menu/browser toolbar would get overlooked as S60v5 seems to love that annoying toolbar, but it seems like something Symbian has already considered too: http://symbianuibrainstorm.wordpress.com/2009/07/28/retractable-contextual-keys/
        Maybe there is a change users will get to occupy more of the screen with a 4×5 grid, or at least 3×5.

    • Joshua

      I completle agree with all. In fact I think that the menus need a lot of improvement.

      “Resolving the 1tap or 2tap issue (make everything accessible by just 1 tap only please!)”

      Well sometimes you do need that the icon or text is just selected if you want to change the options. That can be solved if a mini-options-menu appeares when you touch an icon like in the agenda. It would be great if you could just display the options for the icon by long pressing it.

    • bush.one

      im very dissapointed with this phone, having owned the 7710 with symbian i expected more. i taunted my mates who had iphoneys about the release of the n97 and was proper let down. i agree with all the issues mentioned. it may just be me but why doesn’t the screen rotate from horizontal to landscape with out going blank for a second or two??. not enough good apps for this phone that work properly. what a let down.

      • Jay

        Screen Rotation can be improved by turning theme effects off. On latest firmware, rotation is almost instant.
        When theme effects is on, the animation is crap so it looks like the screen goes blank.
        Nevertheless – this area needs improvement.

    • bush.one

      nice one jay, i have the latest firmware installed but have another problem.. i have no option to turn the effects on or off.> settings, themes. then i have general, wallpaper and call image. non of these have the effects option in them?? it was there somewhere as i turned them on when i got the phone. any ideas??

      • Jay

        Hi there,
        In general themes where you get your list of installed themes, you can turn on theme effects there Options>Theme effects on, perhaps. They’re not the best effects, and they may interfere with the stability of some apps.They most definitely slow down the phone a bit, and the overall effect isn’t worth the reduction in performance.

    • bush.one

      thanks for that, have turned the effects off and on for each of the themes 1,2,3. and looked for the best which was 3.. ugly as sin!! but still slow on the home screen. ive even taken the wallpaper off to see if it was slowing it down (bape camo). it helped a bit but not that much. im sorry for going on and on about this issue but the uk tv ad showed the screen to “morph” round like the i”HATE”phone. i really did not expect to see a blank screen when tilted even if it is less than a second. fair comment??

      • Jay

        Sad thing is, V11 improves theme effect speed – just goes to show how slow it was in the beginning.

        There’s a hack to get some eye candy transitions for the N97 so it looks a little bit more like how it was advertised: http://mynokiablog.com/2009/08/09/video-new-theme-effects-for-your-nokia-n97/

        • bush.one

          what can i say??? if ive got to hack my phone to get it to do what the ad shows then i give up??!!please no insult to you jay you have been a proper star with knowledge of the n97 but this phone just dont..”cut the mustard”. even THE GADGET SHOW gave it a slaggin. having owned a 7710 and loved it all those years ago i thought the next gen symbian touch would be my dreams come true but apparently not. untill a firmware update comes along that puts this phone inline in speed and dexterity with the i “aarrrhhh” go away phone. then it will still remain second best. im sooo gutted.

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    • vatsalasher

      very rightfully asked basics….

      1. Refunds Policy for Failed Devices
      2. Better Customer Care – Listen to the customers need

      my thoughts under…. incl some direct issues that i have encountered…and as on date the top 34 reasons why not to buy NOKIA N97 !! TOPIC: Ver 12 N97 Fails !! Nokia Does not Keep Comittment…

      Hi! Check this out ! Request for inputs, from all…and comments if any NOKIA Fan would you like to defend the list of snags/shortcomings with solutions?

      Phone History…
      Purchased on : 16th Aug’09 – India
      First Repair on: 25th Aug’09
      Ver 12 was installed.
      Second Time Given to Nokia Care on: 31st Aug’09
      Promised Delivery Date: 17th September (commitment not kept)
      Revised date (after much persuasion): 30th September 2009.

      List of Issues/Questions:-
      (Points 15 & later deal with Issues specific to issues encountered post Ver. 12 update)

      1. First things first! How to request for & get refunds for a Nokia
      N97 Phone in India.
      2. Is there a touch querty for n97 as an input method? Like windows mobile?
      Request Know How. I now seem to agree to the feedback on one of the
      Blogs… that nokia designers feel that the average size of user hands
      Would be that of big people & fingers like a Japanese teen. The
      Physical keyboard does not seem to offer any additional functions
      Other than text input!
      3. Predictive text for n97 where in the touch screen
      Menu, the words don’t get auto completed. This increases the number of
      Taps/input strokes. Is the n97 intelligent & learn words from SMS,
      Contacts, emails. my blackberry does so. Request Know How & any
      Options to edit custom dictionary. Auto Punctuation? Am I expecting too much already ?
      4. Single hand use of n97 phone impractical using touch pad t9. Entering alphanumerics on the physical querty is a nightmare… Request Know how on tips & tricks.
      5. Green tick yes or v button on top left of the text input screen n97. friendly again only for big handed people. Could this have been at bottom right. Is alternate screen for text input touch t9 available?
      Requested Know how.
      6. Unnecessary taps additional taps almost in all menus…for e.g…
      Sending a biz card from n97 requires 5 taps… in the other mobile
      Phone systems it can be done in 3 taps. Requested Knowhow for
      Shortcuts.
      7. Can In a nokia n97 we get a view of the entire events as single
      Thread…. No Provision for search display against keywords upon I can
      get call logs, messages – Here in Nokia, no search filters / advanced
      Search and all searches results plotted to applications vs
      Person/events. Requested Know How if it can be done like blackberry /
      windows mobile.
      8. Copy & Paste across applications in n97. eg. Select text from web page. copy n paste on message application…. possible on Nokia…?
      Requested Know How
      9. Call& Event Logs e.g Missed calls in n97. If there are 5 missed calls the
      Log will show the last called time only. In most other mobile systems
      Blackberry, windows each event is logged against a user. Requested
      know how on how this is handled in Nokia.
      10. Lag in picture display upon call in n97. Number displays first and after
      few seconds lag the pic pops up. Is this normal & acceptable? Other windows / rim devices show it instantly.
      11. When will Nokia enable usage of Native clients like google talk, yahoo like blackberry, iphone for n97 ? Any know how on possibility of release. Any equal alternatives suggested for n97. Tried Nimbuzz, Fring, Ebuddy. Miss the chat message notification icon on home screen, notification on the chat messaging icon, sound, breathing
      lights.
      12. Is there any planning for better email client for n97? Likely Release dates?
      13. The Java App for GMAIL on blackberry shows an indicator on icon
      in addition to customized alert setting tone & breathing light for new
      messages. Retrieving Emails is consistent & auto on other devices. The
      Nokia Does not seem to auto refresh + No Notification. How is it
      handled on Nokia n97 ?
      14. Can user friendliness be something where we can do actions with a
      contact or on contacts screen single view… e.g see contact on google
      map, Help on contacts screen/n97 help, lookup contact on server,
      filter by category. new address, new group, view, edit, delete,
      activity log (incl sms, mms, email, calls), call, sms, mms, email,
      send as attachment, send as im, add a custom ring tone, add picture,
      options – sort by, separators, sync settings, actions, switch
      applications, exit. We have seen it on inexpensive phones. is it
      possible to be done on Nokia n97 flagship?

      SOME OF MY STILL UNRESOLVED PROBLEMS Post upgrade to ver 12.

      15. Contacts inaccessible – “Memory Full Error”. No other applications were active at the time of the error. Just unable to reach any of my
      3500 contacts through the contacts options & do anything.
      (update 16th Sept: Unofficially though a nokia rep confirmed that any user having 3000+ contacts are likely to face such issues)
      16. Pbk2 error n97 upon selecting contacts in the messaging application.
      17. Audio Delay in n97 upon receiving a call. No Sound upon connection of
      incoming call. Especially if picked up too fast.
      18. Shows as searching for network constantly many times a day. We have 2 n97s & observed that both n97 almost have similar timing of network loss. Whereas, our other devices like blackberry do not show any weak signal signs.
      19. GPS Lock failure in n97. Keeps searching for GPS locks constantly i.e Drops connection to GPS network frequently.
      20. Un-predictive battery talk time n97, standby & required Charge time.
      21. Voice inaudible at other end from n97, when using loudspeaker & especially during calls from moving vehicle.
      22. n97 Camera:
      a. Picture clarity issues. Secondary camera highly pixelated. Primary
      camera shows light flooding on pictures. Clarity Missing.
      b. Erroneous Time stamp on images.
      c. Lens Cover Started to show minor scratch pressure.
      23. n97 Ovi Suite recommends erroneous updates for E.g Maps 3 ( as of 31st Aug’09)
      24. n97 Text Input touch t9 screen freezes / Hangs, especially when entering special characters like period(.), comma(,), exclamation (!) etc
      25. n97 Selectively & at random contact Name not displayed on Caller ID (sometimes)
      26. n97 Selectively Message & Message delivery display number, instead of stored contact names.
      27. Sync Issue, All contacts not synced always. How to sync “categories” field as stored in outlook or how to map custom fields to Nokia n97.
      28. Format Mass Memory error n97, Unable to format. Unable to delete specific files.
      29. The auto lock n97… When attempted to unlock with querty out .. it still opens in portrait mode ?
      30. n97 SMS Logs Not updated. e.g any sms sent before storing a contact…. after storing or adding contact the number does not get automatically updated to the name. It reflects the number still in the logs./ Logs do not get updated.
      31. n97 Picture caller… The face is half cut ..Looks weird on most images… as the number is not transparent. In landscape mode there is enough space on the screen to put up the answer or reject buttons and displaying the numbers.
      32. n97 primitive Browser will close on its own & return to menu or home screen. thanks in advance for your time to stop & read. Pls do send any information that you think will be useful to me for making the n97 do some work.

      NEW additions: (14th Sept)

      (tested on our second n97)

      33. n97 Predictive Text: Usage for auto word completion only on physical keyboard, when the Dpad down key is used it throws up options but the way the scroll is designed you can not see the full word and one makes mistakes. How to see the full word & edit custom dictionary.
      34. Another strange behaviour is on the n97 text input on browser… this was on an email i was trying to reply. The stylus touch will paste the last keyed in word!! We wonder why.

      Nokia this is a big let down…

      Still, i would like to be optimistic. I think its not a nokia product failure alone, but a marketing overdrive which has led to very high expectations of a un-finnish-ed kind of device. Lets be optimistic.. drop in your wishlist of wanted features & irrtants on your current n97 to me at n97fix@gmail.com. As a unified list let me try if my persuation with Nokia can get us something that we expected from the device….

      Thanks for your time.

      Cheers!

      PS. Ver 2 – though too early to comment just from the video, but apart from Kinetic Scrolling, new music app – not much… maybe some future version may make it today ready

      PS2: One of the other blog moderators shouted at me for making this post under a wrong thread… Joseph Jonny.. would have appreciated if the blog moderator could have helped with any answers to the multiple issues on the n97!!

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