Saturday, May 30, 2009

Nokia 5800 and Ovi

During my recent Thailand trip, I really came to appreciate my decision to go in for a 5800 rather than an iPhone.
  1. You can swap SIM cards easily. I reached Thailand and found Airtel charging me Rs. 100/- per min incoming and some equally exorbitant charges for SMS etc. Browsing around a bit in the airport itself, I found a dtac shop selling a dtac happy prepaid card for just 99/- Baht which allowed free incoming for a month. Also, browsing via GPRS was 1 Baht a minute - I quickly sent off an EMail to all my friends and colleagues teling them about my new temporary number and I was all set.
  2. Maps are downloaded to hard disk. Before I left for Thailand, I downloaded all Thailand maps to my device. It is really convenient in a foreign country to be able to find your way with GPS without paying data charges (and GPRS is not that fast in the first place)
  3. Dictionary App. OK, I am sure no one has even heard of this before. But Dictionary is Nokia's free dictionary and translation app that gets installed with Firmware v20. Sitting at home, its pretty useless. Out in a Thai market, surrounded by people who dont know English, it becomes a killer app. I installed Thai language and text to speech file on my phone and it was amazingly useful while roaming around
I also tried out geo-tagging a few images this time around. I havent gotten them uploaded yet, lets see how they turn out...

Once I got back one of the first things I did was upgrade my frimware to v21.0.025. For some reason, the firmware had disappeared in Nokia Software Updater, but I managed to get it via OTA update - which supposedly is not supported in India. Nokia India seem almost drunk in the way they manage things sometimes - firmware appear, disappear, reappear months later. Ovi store is available over a browser, but the phone app cannot be downloaded via "Download!". I install the app by downloading it off an unofficial website and it works perfectly - meaning there is no logical reason for it not to be available in India.

Still Nokia is a pretty good company - their approach to a phone is to treat it like a computer. You can download just about anything from anywhere and install it. More and more apps have been coming out for the 5800 - Nokia Mobile VPN is now supported on the 5800. Also, I managed to successfully register myself on My Nokia for the first time - till date, whenever I went to the site, it would somehow manage to crash at the registration screen. Another cool thing I got working is Ovi Sync. This synchs your contacts and calendar to Nokia Ovi over Wifi via the 5800's inbuilt Synchronization app. After this, you can edit your contacts/calendar in your browser, and synch it back to your phone all without ever attaching a single cable. Adobe Flash Lite 3.1 is also now available for 5800, it adds quite a few new features.

Nokia India offers Wavesecure as a free app. This allows you to backup your data to Nokia's servers. In case of phone theft or loss, your phone will automatically lock itself, preventing the use of another SIM with it. Also the data can be restored onto a new phone, essentially keeping eveything on the phone safe.

Ovi store is a very nice addition to Nokia's services. When I first got a 5800, I complained that the Download! app was truly pathetic - even lying about app prices. Nokia has improved on that a bit - at least it now shows "Payment in App" as an option. Still, Download! is no App Store. Ovi Store on the other hand is a decent competitor - the interface is clean and functional, and browsing apps, games and videos is really easy. I found the selection of apps on it rather limited - the best thing I found so far is free videos from Lonely Planet. However, its shaping up to be a real value add for Nokia customers. Lets hope it gets better as time goes on...
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