Sunday, October 10, 2010

Second encounter with the N8 - Final batch of gripes (I swear!)

Recently I posted my thoughts that rose from my first encounter with the N8. The N8 in question was a prototype and it didn't have a SIM in it and was hardly connected to the internet, so really trying it out proved impossible.

This is "part two" of my encounter with the N8. This time there's a SIM on board, and I went ahead to put all my settings in to begin using it as if it was my own device.

Again, this post is going to focus on things I'd like to see changed in the N8, but I swear that after this I'm done with griping!

Ovi logins, and how it's driving me insane

Among the first things when starting up the phone was logging into the Ovi service to "get the full benefit" of Ovi services on my device. I logged in and then proceeded to do all the usual setting up one has to do. (Login to Ovi counter: 1)

My first priorities were to try out the Nokia Social Hub app and to then setup my e-mail. Steve Litchfield was quite harsh on the Social hub app, recommending everyone to give it a pass. In the Phones Show Episode 122 he shows us as the application stutters when you scroll. When I gave it a try it worked surprisingly well. Okay, I come from a Maemo-heavy background, so maybe I'm just used to stutter ( ;) ), but I found it quite usable. The desktop widget that came with this app was quite unintuitive, and it was hard to understand it's logic. My biggest problem was sorting out the different views you got to see by using the widget, and then not finding these views when using the app "normally" on its own fair and square. Wonder what on earth is going on here.

To add my Ovi chat or whatever to the Social program, I had to log-in. (Login to Ovi counter: 2)

Here's also a translation inconsistency in the bit where you add accounts:
Here I've added my Facebook account.

When I went to setup my Twitter account, the languge had changed to English.

The e-mail turned out to be a bit of a downer, as well. I set up my GMail and Ovi accounts. Guess did I have to log-in to my Ovi account again? Sure did! (Login to Ovi counter: 3)

Can't scroll by having my finger on the text, btw.
Above is me trying to scroll down the page by dragging the text. Won't work, you'll have to catch the miniscule scrollbar on the right to go down. Yawn. This was the only place in S^3 where I found myself doing this. Inconsistency! Argh.

Here's another oddity I ran into in the Mail app:
An e-mail from my GMail inbox.
When viewing mails from the GMail inbox, the text was nice and big and it mimiced the "threaded" view of e-mails you have in the PC browser version of GMail. This was really nice and enjoyable, and with pinch to zoom working quite nicely here. Then I opened an e-mail from my Ovi inbox:

Nice and... unreadable.
For some reason, when reading e-mails from my Ovi e-mail account, the text would settle itself very poorly on the screen. First, its too small to read unless you put the device right up in your face and second, if you pinch to zoom, then the text doesn't reallign itself with the changed view. So its either this miniscule print or then endless scrolling left-right-left-right to read one paragraph. C'mon, this renders the e-mail app on the N8 unusable for me. Why does it attempt to mimic the view you see in the webmail versions of these e-mail services anyway?

I then went on to have a look at the new Ovi Store (Login to Ovi counter: 4) although I first did it in the browser by accident, so I launched the Ovi Store app (Login to Ovi counter: 5) and found it to be nice and improved. I was intrigued by the topApps application (Login to Ovi counter: 6) although found it odd, that searching for other apps besides the ones listed in the assorted "most famous in category..." wasn't possible here. I then fired up Maps (Login to Ovi counter: 7) remembering something about pinch-to-zoom on the maps and it was pretty cool. I really enjoyed seeing the maps on the nice and bright screen, and maybe for the first time ever Maps didn't feel too heavy for the hardware it was running on.

Syncing my stuff

I was really hoping that on the N8 I could sync to my Ovi Calendar from the calendar app. For some reason, I had to do it through my address book, where it promted me to sync my contacts from the Ovi cloud service (Login to Ovi counter: 8). Upon starting this process, it asked me if I also wanted to sync the calendar and images or something, which I naturally did. Bit of a strange logic here.

When going through the syncing process, I was confronted with a message that I hastily tapped out of the view somehow, and suddenly this was staring at me:

Sorry... what?
This is in Finnish, so probably this wouldn't make any sense to many people anyway, but here's another example of something I griped about in my "part one" post. The finnish translation is really poor in S^3, and at times completely unreadable. Here words are cut so short that I've no idea what could be their meaning. "Automatic sync" yeah got that much, but what on earth is it asking me below? A weird check-box (that isn't one) and the option to Sync or get out. I was a bit lost here, went with "Sync". Syncing seemed to work fine.

Things I liked

Now, because I promised to stop griping about the N8 (or actually S^3 to be precise), I will end this post with a few notions of what I liked.

For some reason, I really enjoyed the SMS notification up front, on top of everything in the desktop view. I found that the little "bubble" was quite functional and well placed both in portrait and landscape mode:

Landscape SMS notification.
The turning of the screen was nice, although not the fastest I've seen. A huge difference to S60 5th was, however, that I think Nokia didn't want the device to be too sensitive to turning the screen, and therefore there's a "wait period" to see if the user's serious or if tilting was an accident. Somehow it just seemed to be implemented really well and the delay seemed intentional and well controlled. Thank you, Nokia! Gripe #1 from S60 5th Ed. fixed!

I really enjoy the threaded SMS conversation view:

Lookin' good! -b
Tapping on a message bubble reveals the SMS in its full:

Single SMS view.
The obvious thing I liked (no, loved): the friggin' awesome camera!


So there. I feel like I've made my peace with Symbian^3 and the N8. I've finally said a lot of what I wanted to say about why exactly S^3 is stilla way away from being great, the way it should be. No Symbian^3 device will find its way to be my main device, but I think a lot of people can enjoy it to the fullest. I also think that most people won't even notice half of the stuff I gripe about!

In bringin out these negative points I wasn't aiming to flame, but to show the aspects of the UI that still need work in my opinion. The purpose of this is two-fold: I want people to read about these little things that eat into your experience, and second, nowhere can you read detailed examples of what exactly is wrong with Symbian^3's UI, it just gets called old and lame. I think I'm somewhat fair here in taking the time and effort to point some of them out and hopefully I've made it clear as to why I think these "features" are faults. I think this should make it easier to fix them. Also, since I've called them out, so I've done my part.

Am I completely off here?

1 comment:

  1. I don't think I've run into an log in problems. I can't remember having to log in since the first one, actually.