Nokia Releases PR1.2 For N8, C6-01 and C7

 

Nokia has released a voluntary software update for the N8, C6-01 and C7 smartphones aligning them with the current offerings on the new E7. The aforementioned Symbian devices will be bumped to PR1.2 while the same software is referred to as PR1.1 on the recently launched E7. The main purpose of the update is to address an issue with Mail for Exchange synchronization with servers running Exchange 2010 with Service Pack 1. In addition to bug fixes, the update brings along a new version of the Ovi Store client and adds subway, train and tram locations, real time traffic, safety alerts, updated POI as well as improved search and location sharing functionality to Ovi Maps.

The update is available to unlocked devices and will come bundled later with the upcoming PR2 software for customized operator subsidized phones. Since this is a voluntary update, no software will be pushed to handsets and users must explicitly check for updates on their device for completing an OTA update (WiFi and cellular are both supported) or can check via the Nokia Software Updater which is part of the Ovi Suite.

Nokia Discussions forums has more details and frequently asked questions about the update as well as some discussion of the forth coming PR2 update to all Symbian^3 handsets.

Unannounced Nokia E6 Gets Pictured

A picture of the unannounced Nokia E6 has yet again made it’s way onto the internet. This time, it’s dressed in all black and shows off the Symbian platform with large icons, suitable for use with a touch screen. Accompanying what is said to be a 2.6screen with a 640×360 pixel resolution, a front facing camera, ambient light sensor as well as proximity sensor adorn the front of the device.

The same Nokia-style E6x/E7x shaped QWERTY keyboard is present, with a rounded bottom lip and slightly tapered top, but adding an extremely large chinbelow the keyboard, supposedly for ergonomic purposes. The previous pictures of an E6 prototype shows the device in bronze with an 8 megapixel camera, dual LED flash and loud speaker grille on the rear. The lack of soft keys on the front face indicate that this device may have a touch screen and be running Symbian^3 to continue Nokia’s portfolio of Touch and Typesmartphones. From the newly taken picture, the screen shows there are 4 home screens that support widgets and shortcuts (as visible by the dots above the d-pad). There is also a rather large gap between the lower half of the shortcut cluster and the screen bezel, indicating this is may be an initial or older hardware build. The last rumored specifications for the E6 indicate a 680MHz ARM11 processor, WiFi and 3G connectivity. The incarnation of the E6 dates back to before the Microsoft-Nokia deal, so it’s unknown if the device will make it into the hands of consumers before it’s scrapped and replaced with a Windows Phone smartphone with the same form-factor.

HP Pre 2 Takes A Dive In Price While Holding On For Dear Life

The HP Pre 2 has been on select few U.S carriers for a small amount of time now and with the recent announcement of the Pre 3 and Veer, it seems that carriers are looking to clear house to make way for some of the new and upcoming smartphones. Getting new consumers and developers onto the platform is a good way to build a user-base for future devices, including the TouchPad which also runs webOS and pairs quite well with a Pre 3 and it’s Touch-to-Share capabilities

The Pre 2 is now available from Verizon for the low price of $49.99 on a 2-year contract. Unfortunately the original carrier that ushered Palm in, Sprint, is not currently offering subsidy on the Pre 2, nor are they actually carrying it. In Europe, it’s only available off-contract for a hefty price of £399 from HP or from warehouse retailers who will bundle it with a plan and give you an unlocked device. In Canada, Rogers is purported to be offering all current smartphones for their regular 36 month contract prices with an added $100 discount putting the Pre 2 available for the scoffable price of absolutely free…with a 3-year contract, that is.

WebOS is one of the newest platforms to make it bigin the wireless world, with a growing App Catalog, a thriving grassroots following of homebrew and hackers alike. According to comScore reports as of January 2011, their research on the U.S Mobile Subscriber Market Share show that Palm (now rebranded to HP) had the lowest point change in subscribers and is trailing with a 3.2% share in the market. HP is slowly but surely gnawing away at the revival and their future of everybody having a smartphone in the palm of their hand.

Android And iOS To Get Foursquare 3.0 Tonight

Foursquare, the location-based social network, is set to be bumped up to version 3 soon. Foursquare was first conceived and built under the project Dodgeballwhich was purchased by Google and replaced with their Latitude service. This week marks the 2 year anniversary since the launch of Foursquare at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.

The new updates to Foursquare allow for a much richer experience with the use of a recommendation engine. It allows users to search for a place and be provided back with aggregated results combining previously checked-in places, places friends have checked into as well as popular and similar places. The leaderboard feature has been updated, providing users with more information on points, badges and statuses. Badges were one of the major cornerstones to the progression and wide spread adoption of Foursquare. It created real-life rivalry and competition to gain badges and attain mayorstatus of a location. Often times retailers would provide discounts to mayors of stores.

Another unique addition to the service is the for retailers to reward and attract consumers with specials. Check-in specials, swarm specials (large amounts of check-ins), friend specials (for groups of friends), loyalty check-ins (for regular users), newbie specials (new check-ins), mayor and flash specials. These can be used to entice potential customers as well as reward existing customer loyalty.

A new Foursquare client is set to be rolled out to iOS and Android devices later this evening. BlackBerry, Symbian and Windows Phone 7 updates are to come at a later unspecified date. See below for more screenshots of the features.

Nokia Sells Off Qt Licensing To Digia

With what would seem to be a consequence of the Microsoft and Nokia partnership, Digia will be acquiring the Qt commercial licensing business from Nokia. Trolltech, the original company of Qt, was acquired by Nokia in 2008 and Qt became the main cross-platform development environment for Nokia. All existing and new commercial customers for Qt licensing will be handled solely by Digia who strive to ensure continuity of the development of desktop, embedded (mobile) and any new models that may arise. Nokia will continue with in-house development for Qt as it is an important technology for Nokia and it is critical that Qt’s growth and success can continue.says  Sebastian Nystrom, who is the Vice President, Head of MeeGo, Qt and WebKit at Nokia. Similar to when Nokia took control of Qt, many in the open source community were concerned about the future, many today are very concerned about how much Nokia will continue to invest in the open source project, especially seeing that they now have an alliance to produce Windows Phone devices with Microsoft. Many open source community projects, such a KDE, depend on Qt in order to continue shipping software to consumers and developers back in 2008 Nokia and Trolltech did future proofthe development of Qt by including the abilities of the KDE Free Qt Foundation to unilaterally release the latest source of Qt under a BSD license in the event that an open source version was ever ceased the poison pill.

Digia is set to take over roughly 3,500 desktop and embedded licensed customers who are currently using Qt as well as any new licensees. Harri Paani, Senior Vice President of Digia stated in the press release that they are excited to extend our Qt business to serve new customersand that they look forward to driving further the evolution of Qt by bringing in new features and services.

More information is available at the Nokia Qt Blog as well as the official acquisition press release available from Digia.

Nokia E7 Now Available For Pre-Order

After what has seemed to be forever, the Nokia E7 is currently available for pre-order in the Nokia USA store. Of course you’ll have to wait until the beginning of April until devices start shipping, that is if you choose to ignore some of the previous issues Nokia has had with getting devices in the hands of pre-ordering consumers before those who simply purchase on the day of availability. For $679.00 USD you’ll be getting the latest E-series device which packs a 4CBD — the largest screen on a Nokia device, as well as the usual slew of options for connectivity including WLAN (802.11b/g/n), Bluetooth 3.0 and penta-band 3G. Unlike many previous Nokia devices, the E7 has a limited 16GB of storage, that is, there is no microSD slot. Both the N8 and E7 support USB-on-the-Go which allows you to use an adapter to connect regular sizes USB thumb drives to your phone. The standard affair 8MP camera is on board, but again Nokia continues the trend of slightly limiting the device by opting for an Extended Depth of Field lens which does not support macro mode or focusing. Of course, like all recent Nokia devices, the E7 ships with Symbian^3 and has full support for Exchange, Office file editing and free lifetime navigation with Ovi Maps.The E7 is the latest Nokia device to feature a full sized QWERTY keyboard hidden behind a hinge that positions the screen at an optimal viewing angle. Constructed from anodised aluminum and gorilla glass, the E7 features a built-in 1200mAH battery that is not user-replaceable as well as a mini HDMI (Type C) port, a microUSB port and a camera capable of capturing HD video. Nokia says they will be supporting Symbian with firmware updates and the E7 is sure to continue with the trend. If you’re an avid Symbian user and appreciate having a full QWERTY keyboard, perhaps the Nokia E7 is right for you.

Sprint And Samsung Spying On Android (And You)

Carriers depend on their ability to control what goes over their network, from blocking foreign smartphones to forcing consumers onto high-tier data plans in order to subsidize the cost of devices, but some of the recent details on embedding metric tracking software on Android devices, while isn’t completely new, is invasive and provides carriers with a whole slew of what should be considered personal information.

The Android Creative Syndicate have been poking around in recent Android installs that come pre-loaded on Samsung devices from Sprint and have found Carrier IQ — what is being describing as “highly invasive, to the level of being spyware“. Carrier IQ is legitimately billed for tracking metrics and a “provider of Mobile Service Intelligent Solutions to the Wireless Industry”. In short, the software consists of daemons, libraries and small applications that provide detailed information to Sprint about your smartphone usage. The ACS (Android Creative Syndicate) advise that Carrier IQ hooks into the contents of SMS and MMS messages, battery and signal status, XML files that are opened as well as every web page visited. It can read each number that is entered into the phone dialer, details about open applications and is even tied into all data sent and received from the device.

Lead ROM Developer, k0nane, has posted screen shots showing the interface for enabling and disabling select services for the IQ Agent. He notes that all logging is disabled which hides the activities from users. ACS reports after removing the major traces of Carrier IQ they have noticed a significant increase in battery life and HTC Evo 4G users who have disabled similar services report increased speed and overall usability.

With the slew of recent malware found in the Android Market might we soon see more users taking to rooting their devices, installing custom ROM images that remove such bundled spywareand provide increased security by patching known holes? Hopefully Google can implement some strict rules for carrier customization as well as a different model for third party application access control.

Nokia Officially Bringing MeeGo To The N900

Despite the hoopla with Nokia and Microsoft partnering and disregarding the previously rumored talks of Nokia slowing development of MeeGo down, it would appear that Nokia has actually decided to dedicate another team to work at officially bringing MeeGo with a Handset UXto the Nokia N900.

Jukka Eklund, who is the Product Manager for MeeGo at Nokia, sent out an e-mail to the MeeGo development mailing list outlining the changes and plans for the near future;

Hi there,

I am thrilled to announce a little thing we started at Nokia. Basically we want to have MeeGo running in N900 device, so that it’s really usable as your daily development device. Basic Handset UX should work, phone calls, SMS, web browsing. So we are concentrating on a few selected features and polish those to be "perfect". It might mean that we leave out some things in MeeGo 1.2 trunk for this edition, but that is not the default intention.

We are doing this fully on the open, and I hope this is an interesting project where we all in the community work towards the same goal: have a great MeeGo edition in the N900. This work is naturally based on the great work done already by N900 adaptation team lead by Harri and Carsten.

The wiki is up here: http://wiki.meego.com/ARM/N900/DeveloperEdition. It will populated with more information as we go, thanks for the patience.

Br,
Jukka
Developer Edition product manager
twitter.com/jukkaeklund
IRC: jukka
http://www.linkedin.com/in/jukkaeklund

The amount of developers and resources being put into the project are not being disclosed and while the existing N900 adaptation team is an integral partof the project, some are celebrating the rebirth and are taking this as a revitalization of Nokia’s MeeGo work while others, more notably, Intel folk are showing their concern in taking such a task seriously. Intel’s Senior Staff Software Engineer, Adriaan van de Ven rebutted with his thoughts;

I would like to urge you to push on this; we’ve been bitten rather badly
in MeeGo in the past in this respect (promising of features as part of
architecture choices, but then never getting those open sourced),
  and I’m sure that you, as the lead of this new project, can fix a
bunch of these; after all it sounds like you’re serious about MeeGo.

The team hopes to bring MeeGo 1.2 to the unwashed masses in form of a Developer Editionwith the functionality of calls, SMS and web browsing. Whether or not this means Nokia plans on healthy development of MeeGo or simply providing minimal resources to keep the project alive is really and truly unknown. Stephen Elop, CEO of Nokia, previously stated that Symbian is here to staybut also mentioned MeeGo being a disruptive technologyfor future trends and investments. The future of MeeGo is currently blowing in the proverbial wind.

RIM Bringing Blackberry Messenger To iOS And Android

The Boy Genius Report is currently reporting that RIM is poised to port Blackberry Messenger over to iOS and Android devices. RIM has held Blackberry Messenger (BBM) in high regards as a tool to instantly and securely chat with friends and co-workers through Blackberry devices, exclusively. A huge push in marketing BBM to consumers went off in 2010 and it would seem RIM is now taking it to the next level. Many users love Blackberry Messenger due to the fact that it’s carrier-independent, has read/replied/delivered status and is completely free of charge once there is an internet connection, RIM is hoping to build out this BBM user-base by offering the service on Apple’s iOS devices as well as certain Android handsets.

Offering a minimally functioning client may persuade users to jump ship to Blackberry devices in order to get full featured capabilities. Users of third party devices would either be charged a one-time fee for the application or a re-occurring fee to use the service. This would seemingly allow RIM to dominate “mobile IM” market by allowing cross platform communications built atop their industry leading infrastructure. For this to be successful, RIM needs to bring the same experience that many Blackberry Messenger users rave about, but entice users to want more and to purchase a Blackberry device in order to really experience the capabilities of the service.

There is no word on when this will be available nor what terms it will be available with, as this is a rumor — but with the state that RIM is currently in, it’s very plausible.

Android 2.3 Still Vulnerable To Previously “Fixed” Data Theft

Do you remember that old vulnerability in Android 2.2 that allowed an attacker to grab data off an SD card, provided they knew the absolute path of a file and were able to get a user to visit a specially crafted site? Well, Google specifically stated they would fix the issue in 2.3 Gingerbread. It would seem that they did indeed patch something in a hotfix – but the issue cropped up again. Xuxian Jiang, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science at North Carolina State University has confirmed with Google’s Security team that a related vulnerability still exists in the “shipping” branch of Gingerbread. This means that the fabled Nexus S is being boxed, bought and used with a very exploitable security hole. Fortunately, the team says they are unaware of any active exploitation of this in the wild.

With manufacturers and carriers only now upgrading devices to the old and relatively antiquated releases of 2.1, how many devices does this leave vulnerable? As far as it’s known, 2.2 devices have not received an update that completely closes this security hole. It also looks as if all the new devices on the horizon that are slated to be released with Android 2.3 may be vulnerable to this as well. Google may deny that fragmentation is a problem for users, but when security is at hand and you can’t patch your mobile device due to the OS being fingered by 3 different companies before you get it (Google, OEM, carrier) then it should be a huge concern for consumers. For those enterprising users who want take all attempts to reduce their risk, it is recommended that you use a third party browser or completely disable javascript in the stock browser until the issue is resolved.