Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Flexible Home Screen Organization

I have figured out how to customize the Home Screen to fit my needs. The N8 provides a lot of flexibility. The Home Screen consists of 6 separate bars and can support up to three different Home Screens. You can move from one Home Screen to another by swiping across the screen or by touching the dots at the bottom center of the screen. Each of these bars can be loaded with a Widget, which is a special class of application. One of the Widgets is the Shortcuts Widget that contain the icons for four different applications.

After some experimentation I set up two Home Screens. All Home Screen have a standard bar at the top that cannot be changed that includes the carrier information including name, data service, and signal bars on the left and a battery indicator and network connectivity indicators on the right. The Pimary Home Screen includes the time, date, and the selected profile in the first bar. This bar cannot be changed on the Primary Home Screen.

I then have two shortcut bars, which is how the phone is delivered. I have the Phone Log, Contacts, Navigation, Web Browsing applications in the first bar and Sports Tracker, AccuWeather, Photos, and Messages applications in the second bar. These two bars are then followed by the Calendar widget, which shows the next Calendar entry, the Email widget which shows the emails in the inbox for my primary email account, and the Notification widget, which shows missed events, calls, or messages.

My second Home Screen has two Shortcut widgets at the top. The first includes the Dictionary, FM radio, FM transmitter, and the Panorama applications. The second includes the Calculator, the Notes, the Phone Setup, and the Settings applications. These are followed by four widgets. The Music Player which shows what is currently (or last) playing, The Bloomberg widget which shows article titles or index performance, RTL info which profides French language news of Belgium, and a search Widget for Google and phone searches.

I really like this approach. I will change this organization replacing applications and widgets over time. I will probably add the third screen. This ability to create and modify Home Screens brings the functions of the phone up to the top level and minimizes the requirement to go down into multilevel folder hierarchies to find applications.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Music Player Organization Issues

The N8 Music Player provides two ways to view music. One is to mix Artists and Albums into one presentation. I find it difficult to find music this way. I have about 200 albums on the phone. I end up rolling up and down in this display to find the album I want.

This is not great, but it is workable. What I do not like is the way it handles genres. The genres are listed, but when you select a genre, all of the songs are listed in alphabetical order. What other music players do is give you a list of the albums of that genre. I find a list of albums much more useful than the list of songs.

I think that Nokia really got this wrong.

No Headseet Sound from Navigatiion

One of the more irritating shortcomings that I have found on the N8 is that the Navigation application will not route its audio to my Blue Tooth headset when it is activated. The audio comes out of the phone's speaker. I like the audio to come through the headset because it is easier to hear the commands and because the audio will not bother the other occupants of the car.

I have not tested the navigation extensively, however, I have used it to get home from my errands around San Francisco. Generally, the routes that it chooses do not match the route that I would take. In some cases, its routes seem rather bizarre. I follow my route and have found that the N8 recalculates routes quickly.

email Issues

The process of setting up was straightforward for my email account. However, I could not set up my AT&T DSL email address using the wizard. It could not handle having the mail servers with a different domain name than my email address. What I did was set up an email account for and then manually change the settings to those for the AT&T account. That worked fine.

One feature on my N95 that is missing on the N8 is the ability to delete a message from the server when I delete it from the phone. This is useful for getting rid of junk mail when I am away from my computer for an extended period.

The mail software does not let me set up folders to stash emails. This would help me keep my good emails separate from the junk email.

Other than that, the email application is very good and will be a useful way to receive email when I am away from my computer.

Text Message Stuck in the Outbox

Text Messaging on the N8 is very nice. It presents the messages as threads, which is a nice feature.

However, I have a message stuck in the Outbox and labelled as "Deferred". Apparently I have to delete the thread to get rid of it.

My N95 did not have this problem. It is too bad that applications seemed to have developed serious regressions when they were moved to the N8.

What am I doing?

I am still trying to figure out what to do with this blog. I think the hardware and the operating system of the N8 are strong, but the applications have surprising deficiencies. I think I will document these as well as pointing out the strengths of the product. I hope that this will not make this blog too negative. The N8 is a strong product, but I am not sure that it is as strong as the iPhone or the Android phones.