Archive for January 8th, 2007

A rant on Motorola Ming’s ‘update’

Motorola today announced an ‘update’ on the Motorola Ming phone that will have EDGE in it. Well, this just does it. The Ming was always capable of using EDGE, but Motorola had disabled this in their firmware on purpose. Originally, the quad-band usage was also disabled, but they enabled that in handsets released after June 2006 (they had updated firmware versions in them). It’s really weird how Motorola would say that they “updated” their phones, while in reality all they did was to release a new minor firmware update as they normally do every 2 months or so. Ming users were able to enable EDGE on their phones using a hex editor since the hack was originally posted last August on the MotorolaFans forums.

And btw, *all* the Motorola phones that run Linux are just re-hashes of the exact same hardware design. For the last 2-3 years, the Motorola Linux phones have seen minimal hardware updates and very lukewarm firmware updates in terms of new features. I mean, there was even that Chinese hacker who was able to simply flash his ROKR E2 phone with the Motorola Ming firmware (two supposedly very different offerings, one a PDA touchscreen and the other one a music feature phone)! I think that Asian Motorola office doesn’t have more than 5 people working on stuff. Only that would explain the lack of innovation and real progression on their Linux phones.

Of course, their native SDKs are still closed, despite Motorola’s assurance that they will be released so developers can write apps. Motorola makes me sick.

A rant on Yahoo! Go

Yahoo! Go seems to be the most exciting thing in mobile applications — maybe even more than Gmail Mobile or Opera Mini. The 500 KB J2ME application was released today, and it only works on a few handsets so far (no Sony Ericsson or PocketPC support so far). What really bothers me though is the fact that in order to download the app you must enter your cellphone number in there. Sucks. I won’t do it.

A rant on Nokia’s CES announcements

Nokia made 4 new product announcements today and I have a problem with 3 of them.

The N76 seems like a great-looking phone, but come on! No WiFi/VoIP? And no assurance that it will have A2DP/AVRCP support? And where is the hardware locking slider button for this music phone? One more: the phone can record QVGA video, but only at 15 fps. It seems to me that this model was crippled on purpose.

The N93i only had cosmetic changes over the N93. What’s the big deal about this, I can’t see it. Why didn’t they at least add VoIP?

And the Linux-based N800 is unecessarily long on its right side. They could have make the tablet smaller (if a tiny bit thicker) by not including the speaker on the right side. And can the VGA camera be rotated? And why not A2DP/AVRCP support? And that kind of kickstand they include is stupid, takes *a lot* of space for no reason, making the device bigger than it has to be. They could have just used a smaller kickstand like some PMPs have. Personally, I am very unhappy with the N800 hardware design. It looks good, but it could have been smaller and lighter without compromising features.

Also, I hate the fact that many of the Maemo applications released last year for the N770 v1 OS and some for the v2 OS won’t run on the N800 v3 OS version. These guys are breaking compatibility every 6 months! I don’t understand how they can get away with this. No wonder why Palm has 30,000 apps and WinMobile has 20,000 apps while Symbian S60 3.0 is having 200 and Maemo just another 200 apps. Palm and MS don’t break our balls like Nokia does.

Nokia/Maemo, STOP breaking application compatibility on your devices! YES, it is hard keeping API/source and binary compatibilty. But as a user who would shed $400 to adopt a new platform, I don’t give a shit if it’s hard for your engineers or not. Keep compatibility at all costs!

Opera Mini rules

A year ago I wrote a review of the most-used mobile browsers out there, and Opera Mini (then at its 1.x version) did not fare well. But today, it has come of age and it’s the first application I install on any phone I get my hands on.

The browser is server-side, so in reality, the client is nothing but a dumb displaying application. While this deprives you from the ability to run Javascript/Ajax and any serious level of CSS, the fact that all the CPU-intense work was done elsewhere, it gives Opera Mini the feeling that it’s the fastest web browser out there.

Additionally, the HTML is getting tidied before is sent to the client, so in reality, you only download a small fraction of the overall original page size — which is very important for download speeds and GPRS charges. It also makes it easy to scroll pages with lots of links/menus, because its “foldable content” feature will collapse these links. The added RSS Subscription support and the Photobloging ability is very nice. Opera Mini can connect to the phone’s camera (if the Java implementation on the phone allows it — not all phones support that) and then snap a picture, and then you can upload it to your My.Opera blog. Check my test photoblog (yup, these are my pyjamas).

Usability is good, but it could have been a bit better. I love its “small font” ability, which makes browsing pretty usable even on 128×128 resolution screens! I also love that because there is never a horizontal scrollbar on Opera Mini, you can use the left/right joystick keys to move page-up/page-down quickly, while if you long press the # key it will bring up a popup window with shortcuts (e.g. #3 moves to the bottom/up of the page). Another nice feature is the ability to save pictures at various resolutions.

Hopefully, Flickr, email with HTML support (HTML email rendering is one feature that most phones don’t have), other blog engine support will be added on Opera Mini 4.x. As a web developer I would like to see 1-pixel table border support and the input form field sizes being respected (currently all form fields are one-size, 100% width). Some fixes on their table code would be nice too.

In conclusion, if you haven’t installed Opera Mini on your phone, do so today! If you are afraid of using GPRS because it’s too expensive, reading the OSNews mobile page with it is reduced from 28KBs which is normally, down to 7-8 KBs due to Opera Mini compression/tidying. This means that you would never have to pay more than $0.08 to read the full OSNews front page. Not bad, if you consider that GPRS costs $10 per 1 MB and most web pages are huge out there (Engadget and Gizmodo pages are ~1 MB each — unbelievable bloat and that’s not just because of the images they use on articles).