Customization: Part III – The Nokia Beta Labs


Nokia not only develop and maintain the Symbian operating system, but also produce (in partnership with our software companies) a number of very useful applications for Symbian^3 devices such as the N8. Visit betalabs.nokia.com and login with your Nokia account details. Click on applications and check out various products the software developers want testing.

Please remember these are beta applications, so you may experience a bug or two when using them. Software developers rely on users to road test new applications. Your feedback and bug reports are highly appreciated by the developers and necessary for Nokia and other software companies to release final and stable versions.

Some of the beta applications can be downloaded from the OVI Store. However, the previous version is usually on the OVI Store and Beta Labs provides the latest version. For example, v1.02 of Pixelpipe Share Online can be downloaded from OVI Store, with v1.03 available from Beta Labs. Applications which I have found useful and have downloaded to my N8 include the following:

  • Swype – on 7th January 2011, Swype version v.13923 was released for Nokia S60 5th Edition touch screen phones such as the Nokia 5800. Swype for Symbian ^3 touch screen phones is slightly behind in development and available from the OVI Store. Note: Click here for help on using Swype. Tip: Remember to reboot your phone after installing Swype.
  • Nokia Big Screen – a new media player for the N8 when connected to a Hi-Def television (LED, LCD or plasma). Install Nokia Big Screen on your N8, connect it to the TV’s HDMI input using the CA-156 cable and use your phone as an entertainment hub. For example, enjoy a photo slideshow with music playing in the background. Read here for a review of this application.
  • Mobile Documents – Mobile Documents is is a smart email client that solves the biggest problem with e-mail on mobile cellphones, namely heavy attachments. Mobile Documents offers unique patent-pending remote attachment handling and “cherry picking” technologies. View attachments instantly, without any downloading first (via streaming). Read the text of individual document pages instead of downloading the entire attachment. I signed up to be beta tester at mobiledocuments.com. Caution: This application will not work on the N8 if you have Fring installed. I had this problem on my N8 and uninstalled Fring to get Mobile Documents to work.
  • OVI Maps – an update for OVI Maps from v3.04 to 3.06 is available from Nokia Beta Labs. Note: I could not find a new feature called Update (on the main menu) which allows you to download Street Maps directly (via WiFi) to the phone, without using a PC. Tip: Please read the installation instructions carefully before installing.
  • Pixelpipe Share Online – provides an easy way to get media (text, audio, photos & videos) off your N8 and onto your favorite social network, blog or online storage service. Supported services include Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, Picasa, OVI, WordPress, Dropbox and many more.
  • Nokia Bots – provides 5 new widgets which can be added to any of the 3 home screens in the Symbian^3 OS. For example, this application learns which are your favourite 4 contacts and automatically adds them to the Contact Bot widget. Note: I uninstalled Nokia Bots as the widgets are not available through my SPB Mobile Shell interface.

There are other applications available for download from the Beta Labs website. You may find an application that I did not mention, but appeals to you. Applications such as Nokia Bots and Nokia Situations, are in my opinion, in the realm of artificial intelligence! My intuition tells me that these applications are for “next generation” smartphones. It will take a long time to perfect these applications. In the interim, I rather not dabble with the initial versions.

If you want you have some fun with Swype, try break the Guinness World Record set on 22 March 2010. Type in the following phrase using Swype:

“The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human.”

The previous record of 35.54 seconds was set by a Swype employee (Franklin Page) in the US, using a Samsung Omni II. However, Mellisa Thompson from the UK swyped the phrase in 25.94 seconds using a Samsung Galaxy S. The 10 second improvement may be explained by the resistive vs. capacitive touch screen technology used on the two Samsung phones.

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