In this edition...

  1. Front Page
    • Maemo 5 update, PR1.2, released
    • MeeGo 1.0 released
    • Nokia will not be providing commercial support for MeeGo and Harmattan on N900
    • MeeGo/Harmattan to be community-supported for N900
  2. Applications
    • fMMS improvements
    • fMMS looking for translators
    • Mappero update to bring multilingual voice navigation, developer looking for voice recorders
  3. Development
    • Maemo 5's PR1.2 comes with Qt 4.6.2
    • MADDE, Platform SDK, and VMWare images updated for PR1.2
  4. Community
    • Extras passes 10 million downloads
  5. Devices
    • Otterbox Commuter series for N900 reviewed
  6. Maemo in the Wild
    • Interview with Alberto Torres, Nokia EVP, MeeGo Computers
    • N900 ships 100,000 in first 5 weeks of launch

Front Page

Maemo 5 update, PR1.2, released

The long-awaited PR1.2 update was finally released to users this week, bringing with it a large number of bug fixes and improvements. First up - new games join the veritable arcade already on offer in Ovi Store. Jurassic 3D Rollercoaster, Zen-bound, Angry Birds (level pack), Sygic, Kroll, Weatherbug, and GoGadget are all available to keep you entertained. [...] Next are the improvements to communication. Email has been improved with the ability to accept or decline an event invitation right there in your inbox, and Facebook IM chat has also been bundled in. The release also brings with it [Skype] video calling, allowing users face-to-face chatting anywhere. [...] An additional update you will be pleased to hear about is portrait browsing on the internet is a-go on the N900. Ovi Maps also gets the update treatment with changes to the UI, improving the experience of finding your way around. And finally, there's also a change to the menu system UI with the first level now customisable. The update also brings platform-level changes in the form of Qt 4.6 (which opens the door to the cross-platform Qt nirvana Nokia has been selling for the past few months), SGX improvements, reduced memory usage, the optification of some build-in libraries to decrease rootfs usage, and other low-level improvements to things like the cellular firmware, connectivity, and X.

Sadly the update is not all sunshine and ponies. For all of its improvements, the much-delayed release also brings with it a string of new bugs and regressions (both minor and not) across the platform that have left many new upgraders feeling a lack of confidence in the update. So users should mind their expectations when installing the update. Fortunately, though, if the next update doesn't bring as many substantial platform-level changes (Qt 4.6, optification of bundled libraries, etc) it seems unlikely that it will be as delayed as PR1.2 was, so hopefully these bugs can be fixed in a reasonable timeframe.

MeeGo 1.0 released

In a moment of interesting, if--apparently--unrelated, timing, MeeGo has hit 1.0. Imad Sousa of the MeeGo Technical Steering Group says, Today we are announcing the project release of MeeGo v1.0. This release provides developers with a stable core foundation for application development and a rich user experience for Netbooks. The MeeGo Netbook user experience is the first to appear, with the development of the MeeGo Handset user experience moving to the open in June. The biggest feature of the 1.0 release is the Netbook UX which, despite being based on the Moblin UI and bearing many similarities, was developed behind closed doors after the MeeGo announcement. Imad goes on to discuss the 1.1 release which is to come in October and will include support for handsets, tablets, and in-vehicle entertainment systems.

Images are available for testing now for both netbooks (with the Netbook UX), and the N900 (with an accelerated XTerm).

Nokia will not be providing commercial support for MeeGo and Harmattan on N900

In a rather unfortunate, if unsurprising given the company's track record and continued demonstrations of their lack of consideration for existing users in their business decisions, Nokia has announced that they will not be providing official support for the N900 for MeeGo/Harmattan. Moving away from the update and to look at MeeGo and the Nokia N900. Many of you have been asking whether the new MeeGo platform will be supported on the N900 once it's device-ready. Although Nokia N900 devices are being used for platform development and testing purposes by those involved in the MeeGo project, Nokia doesn't have plans for a full scale commercial MeeGo upgrade on the Nokia N900. The reason? It's really about ensuring that you have the best possible experience designed for the features on your Nokia N900 device. The justification seems to allude, once again, to the use of capacitive in the next generation device and the "inability" of the N900's resistive screen to support the "required" features for an optimal UI experience in Harmattan. In other words, Nokia's using a marketing-based justification to excuse a business decision. Given that the MeeGo Handset UX will be running on resistive devices, this suggests that the Harmattan UI may not be related to the MeeGo Handset UX, adding yet another fragmented UI experience to the MeeGo ecosystem. Otherwise Nokia's claim here is clearly invalidated, and we're back to the business decision that has likely been behind the unfortunate decision since the beginning.

MeeGo/Harmattan to be community-supported for N900

The silver lining of the announcement is that, apparently, Nokia will be putting a fairly substantial amount of effort towards assisting the community in providing a community-supported release of MeeGo/Harmattan for the N900. In other words, the MeeGo-Harmattan release from Nokia will not be officially supported in the N900. But if you have an engineering mindset and you are interested in exploring what can be technically achieved by the community, please be active in this thread. Carsten, the distmaster, is in the best position to coordinate this effort. He has all the Mer experience and he is working in the open project to provide an N900 hardware adaptation for the MeeGo OS. He is also used to collaborate with members of the MeeGo Devices team at Nokia like Tero Kojo or myself, who will pay attention to the progress of this effort. Given the lack of follow-through for promises made in the Diablo/Fremantle timeframe, this editor is only cautiously optimistic about what sort of support we'll actually see here. Although the likely lack of major hardware differences between the N900 and the first Nokia MeeGo device (despite whatever Nokia may wish to claim about capacitive), and the N900's selection as the ARM development platform for MeeGo-proper, the undertaking will be much less significant than Mer's to provide Fremantle on N8x0 devices.

Either way, contributors interested in getting MeeGo/Harmattan running on their N900s should jump in immediately (especially those with platform and hardware-layer experience), as activity is already underway.


fMMS improvements

The ever active Nick Leppänen Larsson has outlined some of the latest improvements in fMMS including a new statusbar button and icon for Havoc mode (for when fMMS uses a second connection to download the MMS data), new MMS notifications, localized strings, and vCard handling (which took him all of a few hours to implement when this editor asked about it after receiving an MMS vCard from an iPhone-toting friend). Pictures after the break.

fMMS looking for translators

With the recent fMMS update bringing internationalization, Nick Leppänen Larsson is looking for translators to help localizing his application. Interested translators should check out the project on Transifex.

Mappero update to bring multilingual voice navigation, developer looking for voice recorders

One of the Mappero, the reborn Maemo Mapper, maintainers, Alberto Mardegan, notes in a blog post that they're looking for people to provide multilingual voice recordings for navigation.Quote=If your favourite language is interlingua, that is. Or if you are willing to record your voice and submit it for inclusion, chances are that the next version of mappero will support your language, with your voice too! :-) Just follow the detailed instructions in this thread, and have the community enjoy your voice. :-) All languages supported by the N900 are supported by Mappero voice navigation too.


Maemo 5's PR1.2 comes with Qt 4.6.2

One of the biggest features of the new PR1.2 update is the arrival of Qt 4.6 for Maemo 5. After a few delays, the PR 1.2 firmware for the N900 is finally released with Qt 4.6.2 shipping by default (see for all PR 1.2 related info). This means that all the apps that up until now only ran in the SDK can finally be deployed to real devices. The final Qt packages have the version tag 4.6.2~git20100401-0maemo1+0m5 (no April Fool's, despite the date). Qt 4.6 brings with it a large list of changes and improvements. See the Qt docs for both a summary and a detailed list.

MADDE, Platform SDK, and VMWare images updated for PR1.2

The Nokia SDK team has released updates to MADDE, the Platform SDK and it VMWare images for the PR1.2 release. Regarding MADDE, daniel wilms writes, There is a new version of the technical preview of MADDE available, so that you can cross-compile easily your Qt and C/C++ application on OS X, Linux or Windows. The update is based on PR 1.2 and contains as well the QtMobility API's. Now you can develop your application based on QtMobility, upload it to extras and the libraries will be installed automatically on every PR 1.2 device. The description, what MADDE is, how to use it with QtCreator and more you will find in the wiki. The Platform SDK and its VMWare images have also been updated to sync with the PR1.2 update, so developers interested in getting started developing for PR1.2 can now download the environment of their preference and be on their way.


Extras passes 10 million downloads

The number of software downloads from the Extras repository for Maemo 5 has just passed the 10 million mark. Downloads from Maemo 5 Extras have now passed the 10 million mark. Extras is the primary repository for Maemo applications. This represent a significant milestone for community-led software downloads. It should be noted that there are other sources for Maemo application (e.g. Ovi Store) so the total number of software downloads to N900s is significantly higher. It should be noted that this number includes downloads from all three of the Extras repositories (Extras, Testing and Devel), so the average number of downloads per application is lower than the nearly 300 available applications from Extras would suggest. Still, this is a strong indicator of platform activity, and given the relatively small number of N900s shipped (potentially), a signal to developers that Maemo users are just as interested in getting applications as any from the other major mobile device platforms (likely more so).


Otterbox Commuter series for N900 reviewed

Nokia Experts has posted a review of the Otterbox Commuter for the N900, a case designed to protect the device from short falls and everyday wear-and-tear. The OtterBox Commuter Series for Nokia N900 is available now in black for $34.95. If you are someone like me who spends time out in the field (shipyard in my case) or moves around a lot with their devices you might like to know that your device is protected from minor drops and bumps while also giving it a cool look and more substantial feel. Given the lack of decent protective cases for most of the Maemo lineup, this product should appeal to many N900 owners.

Maemo in the Wild

Interview with Alberto Torres, Nokia EVP, MeeGo Computers

My Nokia Blog had an opportunity to interview Alberto Torres, the Executive Vice President of MeeGo Computers at Nokia. On Thursday (Day Two of Open Mobile Summit) thanks to Nokia and WOMWorldNokia, Iain, Sergejs and I had the privilege of an unscheduled Q&A with Nokia's EVP, MeeGo Computers: Alberto Torres who had just finished a Keynote Speech on "Transforming Nokia" and a panel on "Platforms Vs Networks". In the interview, Torres talks about MeeGo's future in Nokia's product lineup, noting that MeeGo will shoot to deliver a product experience beyond that of smartphones, taking the top-slot in Nokia's device portfolio with all future Nokia flagship devices after the N8 using MeeGo. Though clearly more marketing material than real content, the interview does give us an interesting glimpse of Nokia's future plans and may show that Nokia is finally willing to get behind the platform to really make it successful. Video and transcript after the break.

N900 ships 100,000 in first 5 weeks of launch

Rafe Blandford of All About Maemo writes, Earlier this week an estimate, from Gartner, that less than 100,000 Nokia N900s have been shipped since the devices launch was widely reported. Anecdotal evidence, such as download numbers, Flickr activity and operator-led retail distribution in various countries would suggest this estimate is low. Nokia has not released any total sales numbers for the N900, but it did indicate that the 100,000 figure was reached 5 weeks after launch. Although the numbers don't tell all that much without more information--are there a lot of N900s, do N900 owners like to download or is everybody reflashing every day?--it does at least seem to indicate some activity of either first or second sort. It would also seem a nice indicator for developers to know that there is some sort of demand for applications on the platform.