Nokia: Fix your Bluetooth/IrDA file sharing!

There is one, single thing I hate about ALL Symbian phones: all files sent over Bluetooth or IrDA are ending up on Messaging and not in the public file system. As a user who wants to use smartphones for a reason (the reason being that they run flexible operating systems), I find this behavior as the worst behavior, ever.

From Symbian’s UIQ/S60 point of view the idea is that there should be applications that handle specific file formats and that after your file is downloaded to your email client as a special message with attachment, the right application will open that file. So far, so good. But the problem is that the world is not a utopian place where everything works perfectly.

You see, if I send over an .mp4 file that is based on the h.264 format, the included movie player can’t play that specific type. If I install a third party app that can play this specific type, there’s a good chance that it wouldn’t open with it (maybe because this application has not registered its supported MIME types or because it doesn’t support arguments in its execution command). And if I try to open the application manually, the file is not viewable and loadable, because the BT/IrDA attachment doesn’t live in the public filesystem.

In my personal case, the problem was my personal index.html file. I use that on all my devices instead of bookmarks. It’s like my.yahoo.com, but on a small local webpage. Basically, I sent the file over BT and the application that opened it was… Opera. But Opera had a bug and it would NOT open a file that was requested via arguments (e.g. it would open the file only after specifically opening it manually, and not if the system was trying to load “opera index.html”). So, I had to uninstall Opera.

Then, I stumbled upon the second problem (even after Opera was out of the picture)! The system now was loading the old S40 browser (which is the old browser for S60 too, it’s a port from S40) with my file instead of the new Webcore browser. There was NO WAY to send that index.html to the KHTML/WebCore browser instead and make it my homepage!!! Remember, S60 phones come with two browsers and you can’t pick which one you want as your default handler for HTML files.

As you can see, there are severe limitations with the current behavior, and I only mentioned two cases. As a user, I don’t like such limitations, not on a smartphone. Heck, even Sony Ericsson’s non-smartphone series can save BT/IrDA files on the “Other” folder directly if they don’t understand its MIME type! Sending them to “Messaging” is just wrong. This is like all your SMB or Bittorrent file sharing were ending up on MS Outlook and the Windows system wouldn’t let you save the files to your Desktop! It’s extremely unituitive and limited behavior. It’s BAD.

Nokia, Symbian, UIQ: please fix this behavior and save BT/IrDA’s Obex files onto the public filesystem instead. The user who bought a smartphone instead of a feature phone, he did so for a reason: flexibility.

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