Tuesday, September 11, 2007

N95 8gb - Finding 'fings' faster

Looks like Nokia listened to the feedback and addressed some of the annoying issues with the n-series N95 handset launched earlier this year.

The prototype 8gb model I'm playing with here is not the finished product but the main improvement I immediately noticed is the speed of the interface. It's much quicker, navigating around and opening applications. The boot up time seems to be improved too. The screen size and poor battery life were the other major issues that have been addressed.

I'm particularly pleased about the speed increase as I have complained before that the N95 interface and opening applications was slower than treacle (even the N73 is faster). The new N95 8g interface albeit without the whizzy transitions (likely coming in S60 edition 3 feature pack 2 for models next year) responds much quicker now at a button press. I hope Nokia take this learning into their future models when it comes to the trade off, of selecting the hardware, memory/cpu/screen size versus cost and the overall user experience, as some might question why Nokia have had to produced two N95 models to get the experience right.

Taking photos is improved markedly over the old N95, but it's still taking too long to start the camera app. I counted 5 seconds from pressing the camera icon and by the time you've focused on your subject - she's likley wandered off as in the case of my daugther. Perhaps some software tweaks may improve it further. That said, this is a problem with lots of other camera-phones too, especially compared to digital cameras.

So far I've not had "out of memory issues" on the newer model which plague my older N95 (effectively meaning I cannot multi-task) and a familar problem for most current N95 users. The screen is also bigger, brighter and an additional shortcut has made it into the active idle applications (so you have 7 instead of 6).

A much more comprehensive review is over at AllAboutSymbian

What I wanted to look at in more detail and the subject of this post was the search application moving to the idle screen.

You can now search directly from the home/idle screen (see first photo and you will see the magnifying glass icon) both for files and content on the device (mails, contacts etc..) as well as online search with Yahoo and Microsoft search engines...This saves quite a few key presses depending on how you accessed the application beforehand.

Also what has changed slightly is the way device and online search works. In the newer version of the app, the letters/keywords you type in the box dynamically change the results, constantly narrowing down the search results as shown in the pics below on typing 'm' and then 'a', then 'p' etc...

This is similar to how the excellent Qix search application works on S60 (although you can start searches directly from the idle screen with Qix and there are some clever features where most used search keywords are dynamically reordered based on usage ie. float to the top of the results).

This general method of searching is faster, simpler and and more intuitive for the user - it is a horziontal search layer across all apps and services and makes much more sense than stovepipe-type searches.

With more and more media being stored on the device such as images, videos and music and the ability to use the search as a "shortcutting" method (eg. for texting the same contact repeatedly) I suspect this application will get used a lot by N95 8gb users...