Tag Archives: s60
Unless you've been living under a rock you probably heard that Google released Buzz yesterday. Details are on the Google Blog.
Buzz appears to be Google's attempt at building an app that combines the best features of Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare into a single all singing, all dancing desktop AND mobile service. With Buzz you can publicly or privately post status updates, photos and videos, view your friends Buzzes and view nearby Buzzes on a map. Buzzes can automatically include your location or you can choose to hide it. You can comment on both your friends buzzes and nearby ones.
Reactions to Buzz from around the Web seem mixed. I've yet to find a big name blogger who is really singing its praise. Scobilzer's lukewarm and James Whatley's negative reactions seem typical. On the practical side, Sarah Perez at ReadWriteWeb has some great tips on actually using the service, including how to remove it from Gmail.
Before I could form my own an opinion about Buzz I had to find it. That's not as easy as Google makes it sound. Google has restricted access to Buzz pretty severely. It's supposedly available in desktop Gmail, but apparently only for a selected few. On mobile Buzz is offered to everyone, provided they have the right device. The table below, adapted from one Google published, shows the options available on mobile devices. The full Buzz experience is limited to the iPhone and Android 2.1 devices which get a new 4.0 version of Google Maps with Buzz built in, a Web app at buzz.google.com and integration with Place Pages and Google Voice Search. For Android 1.6, Windows Mobile and Symbian S60 3rd and 5th editions there's only new 4.0 version of Google Maps.
|Feature||Android 2.0+||Android 1.6+||BlackBerry||iPhone||Nokia S60||Windows Mobile|
|buzz.google.com||Yes||Coming soon||Coming soon||Yes||Coming soon||Coming soon|
|Buzz Layer on Google Maps for mobile||Yes||Yes||Coming soon||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Buzz on a Place Page||Yes||?||Yes|
|Buzz icon shortcuts||Yes||?||Yes|
There's no Buzz in my desktop Gmail on Opera, Chrome or Firefox. Things were better on mobile. Installing Maps 4.0 from the Market on my HTC Magic running Android 1.6 was a snap. It wasn't so easy on the N95. Google's instructions, which say to go to buzz.google.com with the phone browser, are wrong. On Symbian phones you actually have to visit m.google.com/maps to download the update. Once installed I found Buzz in Maps 4.0 on both devices to be pretty full featured. You can post Buzzes and see nearby ones on the map and comment on them. Although Whatleydude complained of only seeing two Buzzes on his Maps in London, here in San Francisco the Maps are overflowing with them! The one thing you can't do with Buzz in Maps is view or respond to Buzzes from your non-local followers.
So what about the N900? Out of the box, Buzz is not available on Nokia's open source flagship. Abhista has figured out how to change the MicroB's browser user-agent so that it looks like a Nexus One to Google. Here are his instructions:
- Install Hide User Agent from Application Manager
- Go to Control Panel and open Hide User Agent
- Set user agent to
Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 2.1; en-us; dream) AppleWebKit/525.10+ (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.0.4 Mobile Safari/523.12.2
- Click on Set
- The browser will be restarted
- Now go to the browser and open http://buzz.google.com
If you try this yourself here are a few things you need to be aware of.
- In order to see Hide User Agent in the App Manager you need to add and enable the Extras Testing repository. Hide User Agent itself seems safe and stable but be sure to disable Extras Testing after installing it to avoid accidentally installing other apps from the testing repository.
- Hide User Agent doesn't seem to let you paste in user agents, you have to carefully type them in!
- Instead of using the Nexus One User Agent you can also use the iPhone's;
Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 3_0_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/528.18 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile/7A400 Safari/528.16
I'm not sure which User Agent I prefer. With the Nexus One User Agent Buzz fit the screen better but the little Buzz bubbles didn't appear on the map. With the iPhone User-Agent, the bubbles appeared but there was some text overlapping and a blank space at the bottom of the screen in the map view (visible in the screenshot above).
Buzz builds upon Google's other recent experiments in the location and the social space; Latitude and Wave, neither of which seem to have much adoption. But Buz does much more than Latitude and is more generally available than Wave, which is still invite only and limited to the iPhone and Android on mobile. It's also nice to see that Google included Symbian this time around. Restricting buzz.google.com to just a few browsers is dumb though. That just annoys the early adopter geeks who are most likely to actually use Buzz. I understand that Buzz hasn't been tested with other browsers and might not work properly or at all with unsupported ones. But instead of locking the door, the smart thing to do who be to warn visitors with unsupported browsers that things might not work. Buzz actually works quite well with N900 MicroB and in desktop Firefox and Safari when you change their user agents to the iPhone one.
Is Buzz the next Facebook or Twitter? It could be but that will take time and depends to a large extent on how willing people are to share more information with Google. Personally I think Buzz is too noisy and makes it too easy to inadvertently share one's exact location. To win trust and make Buzz more usable, I think Google needs to improve filtering, add finer grained privacy and sharing options and make the default be to NOT share one's location.
Launched today from Google labs, Fast Flip (fastflip.googlelabs.com) is being billed by Google as a faster way to read news. It's basically a news search engine like Google News. But instead of text summaries, Fast Flip returns results in the form of high-resolution screen shots of the first page of online news articles matching your query. You can read at least part of the story using the image and click through to the source site to read it all.
The images in Fast Flip are cached and on a PC with a broadband connection you can quickly "flip" from story to story using on screen buttons. It is supposed to evoke memories of flipping the pages of a print magazine. The images are large enough so that the text was easily readable on my large desktop monitor. Fast Flip only uses content from three major dozen publishers whom Google has partnered with. Google is sharing advertising revenue with the partners.
I'm not sure how well Fast Flip is going to go over with traditional publishers who already tend to blame Google for the demise of print media. Obviously anything that makes reading the news online faster and more "print-like" is going to cut into sales of traditional newspapers and magazines. On the other hand if Google can return enough revenue to its publisher partners to cover the costs of creating the content it might actually help them survive.
There is a mobile version of Fast Flip as well but only for the iPhone and Android devices. It works pretty well on my Android phone. Flipping is done by swiping side to side. Google is using the local storage capabilities of Gears on Android and HTML5 on the iPhone to preload and cache the images so that scrolling between them is smooth and quick.
There is definitely a wow factor but I can't see myself actually using Fast Flip on the Android phone. The problem is that the text in most of the images is just too small to comfortably read in portrait mode. They are mostly readable in landscape mode but only seem to flipable when the phone is vertical so you have to keep turninng the phone from horizontal to vertical to navigate and back to horizontal again to view. The dreaded horizontal scrolling is sometimes needed to read as well, even in landscape. All in all I think I'll stick to Google Reader on the phone.
Dr. Jukka Silvennoinen, aka DrJukka, is a prolific developer of free Symbian smartphone applications for S60 3rd and 5th edition phones. His best known apps are Y-Browser, a powerful file manager and Y-Tasks, a great collection of system utilities that includes a task manager, file association editor, crash monitor and a font viewer/manager. I’ve found both of these programs indispensable on my N95. Neither of them are available in the Ovi Store, unfortunately.
Except for the widgets all of DrJukka’s applications on the mobile site are ad supported. If you can’t take the ads, alternate unsigned, self signed or older ad free versions are available from DrJukka’s desktop site.
Ratings: Content Usability
Ready.mobi Score: 2 “Bad”
Mobile Link: m.drjukka.com
When I covered Google’s resurrected IGoogle for the iPhone, I complained that Google’s overly aggressive browser detection and redirection was blocking users of other advanced mobile browsers like S60 Webkit and Opera Mini from the site.
Today, I noticed that Google seems to have made a subtle change to the way it handles unrecognized and unsupported browsers. It’s now possible to force the advanced mobile version to be delivered to any browser. Visit google.com/m/ig?uipref=6 to try it. You need to use that exact URL, anything else gets redirected to the WAP version.
Admittedly I’ve only tried it with six Gadgets; Google’s Gmail, Reader, News, Calendar and Finance and Logika’s TwitterGadget. All work as expected with Opera Mini and Skyfire and all but News work in the S60 Browser. The iPhone – iGoogle pages are formatted for a minimum screen width of 320px so you do need to use landscape on QVGA phones to avoid horizontal scrolling. The sole exception is Opera Mini 3.1 which re-flows everything to screen width. It’s not pretty in 3.1 but is usable.
|Opera Mini 4.2||All six gadgets work. Expanding and contracting widgets is a little slow and causes the page to jumps to top requiring repositioning.|
|Opera Mini 3.1||Gmail, Reader, Calendar, Finance and TwitterGadget all work. News doesn’t open. Pages are heavily reformatted and a bit ugly but usable.|
|Opera Mobile 8.65||Finance works, Twitter Gadget crashes the browser, Gmail is missing entirely and the other gadgets open but display no content.|
|Skyfire 22.214.171.12414||Everything works well.|
|S60 Browser||News displays no content but all the others work very well.|
|Ozone 0.01||Gmail, News, Calendar and Finance are OK. Horizontal scrolling is needed in Reader even in landscape. TwitterGadget is unusable as its login form is missing. Ozone crashed a couple of times opening different widgets but the crashes were not consistently reproducible;le.|
|Bolt 1.04||Reader, Gmail and News work well. Calendar, Finance and TwitterGadget are missing|
|UCWEB 6.3 S60 and Java, 6.6 Java,||Page loads but the widgets aren’t clickable.|
|BlackBerry OS 4.1 Browser||Widgets open expanded. Scrolling is unusably slow.|
If you try this in other full-web mobile browsers like Pocket IE, recent BlackBerry browsers and the Telca and NetFront browsers found on Samsung and LG touch screen feature phones please leave a comment letting us know how it works.
Kudos to Google for opening up this back door so that users of unsupported browsers can try this advanced mobile site. Is it useful on any of these browsers? Actually I’d say that it is, particularly with Skyfire, Opera Mini, the S60 browser and Bolt. Not everything works in every browser but the overall user experience is still better than with the generic version of mobile iGoogle.
Ozone Browser For S60 and UIQ 3