Thursday, February 26, 2009

S60 / Google synchronization almost here

Today I understood that Google has just added ActiveSync support to their portfolio to let users sync contacts and calendar events to their ..... iPhone! Wait a minute, doesn't that mean that I can also use Nokia's Mail for Exchange (MfE) to sync the data to S60 device? I made an experiment and here are the results.

First install MfE, and then set up the account:
  • Server address is
  • Your username and password are the ones that you use to login to your Google account
  • Domain name is mandatory but you can type to that field whatever you want
  • Your email address is also mandatory but not really used, just put your Google email address there
  • Your new MfE profile includes task and email synchronization by default. Disable those, they are not supported by Google.
If you managed to fill up all the fields correctly, you can now synchronize calendar events and contacts between S60 terminal and Google account. My first impression was "Wow, this works!", but unfortunately there seems to be a strange problem with the user credential management. 

It looks that I can synchronize data once and then there must be about 5 minute delay before that can be done again; if I try to sync too soon MfE will display an error message that tells my password is not correct (the same password that just worked fine!). There is probably a problem in Google's authentication module, as MfE synchronization also disables Apple's iCal application from syncing with Google (remember my family calendar?). Soon after MfE sync iCal prompts me to enter the password again and sync fails every time. Just wait a couple of minutes and sync is OK again. 

Before you get too excited, remember that Google officially states that syncing with MfE is not supported. But when this gets official support, we will have a superb mobile service for individuals and small companies - with a very reasonable price tag.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Saturday is a Mobile Dev Camp day

Today I joined Mobile Dev Camp event at Helsinki. On the agenda there were presentations about current mobile hot topics, greetings from Mobile World Congress and networking with the peers. Some notes from the event:

Based on a question made by one of the speakers I got a feeling that many listeners are taking their first steps in mobile development field. Think about the new runtime options that have emerged during the last years; Flash, Python and especially web technologies. All these broaden the mobile world to the fields of the traditional development world; such thing as "mobile development" is soon to extinct and it will become development as usual. Totally another thing is if you can understand the needs and desires of mobile users - that's what will separate failure from success. 

Many presetations handled about Android and tried even reach to Palm Pre. Should I develop to these platforms? Let me present "Harri's mobile platform feasibility test":
  1. Buy a 24h ticket to your local public transport system. Spend one day in busses, trams, subway, ferries, whatever. Count how many people you see using the devices powered by the platform prospect. If count is > 1, proceed to step 2, otherwise jump to step 4.
  2. Visit some of the major mobile phone reseller's store and wait for your turn. When you have drawn staffs' attention to you, try to buy a device that runs your platform of choice. If you leave the store with a brand new device, proceed to step 3, otherwise jump to step 4.
  3. Your platform selection has potential, good luck. 
  4. Are you really sure with your platform selection? 
Finally a small reminder: some time ago I wrote a paper about topics that new mobile developers should keep in mind. If you are just about to develop your first mobile solution, there can be something for you.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

The fuzz about Nokia and Facebook

Did you happen to notice that last week many newspapers and sites reported that Nokia and Facebook are discussing about partnership? For example, here is a link to WSJ's article. So far I haven't noticed that anybody had asked the silly question - what's there to negotiate? Facebook's triumph began when they opened the programming interface for third parties to create applications and a couple fo weeks ago they even improved the status API. Using that API with Nokia's smartphone platforms is no magic. So, no reason to talk for months, but as Bill Clinton put it:
It's the economy, stupid!
My claim is that nobody has made the Nokia/Facebook application yet, because - as so often - the business model is missing. Even though there seems to be a "I want a Facebook Application for my Nokia and I want it now!" group, it is hard for developers to see where the business could profitably be. Nokia has tried to ease the user's pain with a simple Facebook application available from the Download-client, but that application is just capable of launching the browser to the Facebook's mobile page.

Good mobile Facebook application is something that users want now and developers could do now, but companies are busy negotiating the terms. The missing link in this picture is not the contract between the companies but an online application store that puts the business in it's place. I won't dive into comparing the Nokia's Download client with the Apple AppStore, but S60 ecosystem just isn't working without a much better way to sell applications. 

Tomorrow Mobile World Congress opens, I hope we will hear what Nokia will do with this problem.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Two interesting new dissertations

This is funny coincidence. Today at 12.00 o'clock two interesting mobile related dissertations will be published from two different Finnish universities. 

I thought you may like these:

Links point to Finnish pages, but I hope that title and abstract tell enough to decide whether these interest you or not and if you want to go for printed publications.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Augmented (mobile) reality

For some time I’ve been fascinated about the idea of (mobile) augmented reality, the concept that things in real world can be increased or extended by some clever use of software. This sounds too theoretical to be interesting, but let’s take some examples what this can be.

Marketing people have already found really interesting ways to use new opportunities. What would you think about a car launch commercial that would allow you to explore the 3D model of the new car - on top of the newspaper. This has already been done by the Mini car company, check this page. The trick is that you use your computer’s camera to capture a special image and from the computer’s screen you can then enjoy and explore the model. Why this is better than studying the model from the pictures? Because this is a much more engaging experience!

To experience this by yourself, go to Boffswana’s page, print the image and prepare to be impressed. Tried this at home and my kids went crazy. How would you use this?

On the mobile side I have an idea that I’d love as a tourist. Take some new mobile terminal that has embedded GPS (to tell where you are) and a compass (to tell where you are looking at). Add that information to data sources similar to what Google Earth uses and display the information on the device’s screen while the camera is taking live picture from your neighborhood. This solution not only could tell you where you are, it could also tell you what you are looking at. The marketing people could sell ads to this service; imagine that when you look at the world through service like this, it could display you where in the picture is a good restaurant, for example. Physical and digital world meet on the mobile terminal's screen - nice.

It seems that Nokia has tried to create a service like this a couple of years ago, but at that time devices weren’t ready yet and add-on hardware was needed. Don't know whatever happened to the project, now time would be ready for applications like this.


I was just pointed to a blog post made by a fellow Forum Nokia Champion David Caabeiro, he has already made an application that's demoing the idea I presented above. This proves my claim that terminals are now ready for applications like this!