Nokia Belle (or Symbian Belle) represents the best Symbian update to date, with 3 additional home screens and a look and polish which is starting to resemble Android. For example, the pull-down status bar is similar to Android’s notification area, where toggles for mobile data, WiFi, Bluetooth and Silent mode can be found. The camera performance boost which Nokia released through their Beta Labs was also incorporated into Belle. Video recording was increased from 25 to 30 fps, with continuous autofocus in video close-up mode. Another welcome improvement is the ability to add a folder as a shortcut to any home screen. I added this feature to Symbian Anna by running the SPB Shell 3Duser interface. However, Belle still lags behind the latest Android and iOS platforms as it still lacks some key features. Some of these shortcomings may be addressed when Nokia releases the Feature Pack 1 (FP1) update for certain devices running Belle. FP1 will offer the following:
- A new, faster, HTML5-capable web browser,
- Certain Microsoft apps,
- The latest version of Nokia Maps,
- Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby Headphone experience,
- Updated multitasking bar and notification bar, and
- Approximately 20 new widgets.
The Microsoft apps will be rolled out in two stages. In December 2011, Microsoft Lync 2010 Mobile, Microsoft PowerPoint Broadcast, Microsoft OneNote, and Microsoft Document Connection became available for certain devices. More apps will be released in 2012 such as Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. This represents the first time these apps will become officially available outside of the Windows platform. For more information, click here. So, the “solution” is to wait patiently for Nokia (and Microsoft) to release the added and improvements described above.
In the interim, there are other “solutions” to shortcomings in the Belle OS which can be addressed. For example, the Task Manager in Belle was virtually unchanged and therefore remains a major problem. For “power users”, I recommend installing JBak TaskMan which is a powerful utility for experienced users. However, the app has some issues with Belle when reading this forum (and this. For “normal users”, I recommend Best TaskMan which provides more functionality than Handy TaskMan.
If you really want to mod your Belle, then you require a hacked phone capable of installing unsigned apps/widgets. This first widget I installed was the gallery widget, similar to the one that will be offered in the FP1 update. Other widgets which I also found useful were the large calendar, mobile data usage tracker and the visual bookmark widgets (click here for more information).
If you get an “Installation not possible. Component already built in” error when installing some widgets (e.g Operator.sis or ShortCutWidget.sis), it means your phone is not fully hacked. A fully hacked phone involves replacing the original installserver.exe in C:\sys\binwith a hacked version. There are two hacked versions of installserver.exe as follows:
- Il.Socio’s hack of installserver disables ONLY the signature checking to allow installs of unsigned .sis files. It does not ignore the “in-built component” error, which according to Il.Socio, might lead to unpredictable instability. Click here for more detail.
- The Coderus hack of installserver will ignore this error (i.e. removes checking of built-in components).
Another mod which I enjoyed was a new skin for Swype v2.1 known as Zeta 2.
In conclusion, Symbian users rely heavily on developers and hackers to provide extra functionality which the OS sorely lacks. Although Nokia will support Symbian till 2016, they can ill afford for developers to move to other platforms. It is websites like Symbian Developers which ultimately keep users interested in Symbian.