Tag Archives | Nokia

Now You Can Read a Phone Call

Last Gadget Standing Nominee: Mobile Captions Service

Price: free with phone service

When phones became smartphones, they sprouted a new feature: sizable screens. Consumer Cellular, a nationwide wireless phone company that offers service to AARP members, is taking advantage of that fact to provide a useful service: closed captions for phone conversations.

Mobile Captions Service lets the deaf and hard of hearing see a typed transcript of a phone conversation in real time as it’s going on. The captions are created by live operators on the fly based on a technology called Voice Carry Over (VCO) and are provided through a partnership with Hamilton Relay Service; the service is currently available on one phone, the Nokia E5 and is available in eight states and the District of Columbia.

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Help Us Pick the Hottest Smartphones

Seriously, folks–these days, you can barely move your contact list to your new phone before coveting the next one.

I queried a few of our Last Gadget Standing judges and they’ve got no shortage of opinion on which phones should be in the running for the award we’ll hand out at CES next January.

Some voiced concern about the Nokia N8 being an oddity.  Yeah, well, it’s an oddity with a 12 MP camera (with Zeiss lens) and HD video recording.  Those video watchers amongst us will be intrigued by the form factor; those who are dubious about Symbian less so.

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Nokia's N8 Hands On: The Game of Catch-Up Continues

If you compiled a list of the biggest big-bang moments in tech history, Apple’s January, 2007 introduction of the first iPhone would rank mighty high. Three and a half years later, the companies that dominated smartphones back then are still scrambling to compete with Apple’s phone. Especially from a software standpoint, and none more so than Nokia, the Finnish giant who has struggled to build even vaguely plausible iPhone competitors on its long-in-the-tooth Symbian OS.

Nokia’s newest flagship smartphone, the N8, won’t arrive until sometime in the next quarter, and when it does it may have a low profile in the U.S.: There’s no reason to think that AT&T or T-Mobile will pick it up and sell it at a subsidized price. Unsubsidized, Nokia is saying it’s a 370-Euro phone, which works out to about $450–aggressive given its pretty meaty features, but not a price most Americans will pay.

I got a demo of a beta version of the N8 today, and while it’s the clearest sign to date that Nokia is moving in the right direction, it’s also obvious that modernizing Symbian is a years-long project that’s still in progress.

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Breaking: Nokia Sues Apple Over iPad

Nokia has just announced that it has sued Apple in Federal District Court in the Western District of Wisconsin, claiming that both the iPad and iPhone violate five patents held by the electronics maker.

“The patents in question relate to technologies for enhanced speech and data transmission, using positioning data in applications and innovations in antenna configurations that improve performance and save space, allowing smaller and more compact devices,” according to a statement from the company.

Although the wording is of course somewhat vague, the suit appears to hit the heart of what has made applications on the iPad and iPhone what they are. Positioning data in applications has become a central feature — most of the major ones carry some type of location-aware technology.

I’m not sure what Nokia means by “enhanced speech and data transmission,” and have asked the company to clarify exactly what those specific patents do cover.

Nokia’s suit surely comes as a surprise to the tech community, as it had not publicly made any indication that it believed its intellectual property rights had been violated. That said, it’s not the first suit between the two companies: a suit last year involved GSM, UMTS, and Wi-Fi standards. A request for comment has been sent to Apple, however no response has been received as of press time.

More details to come as we receive them.


Symbian 3 Preview

Speaking of phone operating systems getting major makeovers for Mobile World Congress, here’s Nokia’s demo of Symbian 3, due in phones later this year. I want Symbian to flourish–back in the 1990s, I was a fanatical user of the Psion palmtops whose OS evolved into Symbian, which sported features I still miss. This video, however, suggests that the new version may mostly be about catching up with other phone OSes rather than racing ahead of them….

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Nokia: Free Navigation for All!

That Nokia event I liveblogged Thursday morning? The cryptic invitation made it look like it might involve some major new product, which it didn’t. But it did bring some good news: The company is bringing free GPS navigation–for drivers, pedestrians, and takers of public transportation–to users of its Symbian-based smartphones. The navigation offering covers 74 countries, and lets you download the necessary maps onto your phone so you don’t need a live Internet connection to route your trip–a particularly useful feature if you’re roaming in another country where you don’t have all-you-can-eat data.

The Symbian user interface still has some odd, outdated artifacts–you must scroll through lists with Windows-like scrollbars, not by merely swiping the list itself–but the OVI Maps application looks full-featured and fun. Pedestrians get some particularly nice features, such as shortcuts that drivers can’t take, and there are 3D models of landmarks.

The no-cost navigation is an obvious rejoinder to Google’s version of Google Maps for Android–as seen on the Droid and Nexus One–which also includes navigation with spoken turn-by-turn directions for free. Let’s hope everybody else in the smartphone biz feels like they need to match the Nokia and Google freebies…

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Nokia Event Live Coverage

Quick reminder: I’ll be liveblogging the Nokia press event that’s being held in San Francisco on Thursday morning at 9am–and which apparently has something to do with the company’s OVI services platform. Join us at www.technologizer.com/nokia, and I’ll tell you what we learn as quickly as we learn it…

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Hey, Nokia’s Having an Event, Too

I just got invited to another San Francisco press event. This one’s being held by Nokia this Thursday at 9am, and as with Apple’s event next week the invite aims to be cryptic but tantalizing:

I don’t know whether Nokia’s unveiling a specific product–it could just be previewing its announcements for Mobile World Congress, the Barcelona phone megashow a month from now. And the fact that the event’s being held six days before Apple’s bash in the same city may or may not be a coincidence. Let’s find out together–I’m attending this event, too, and will provide live coverage here.

[UPDATE: Nokia UK is sending out invites to an event, too–and theirs specify that it’s about Nokia’s Ovi service platform. Logical assumption: Nokia is announcing the same news in multiple venues. Engadget speculates that it involves a new version of the Ovi application store.]

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Apple Sues Nokia. Who’s Next?

““We’re very, very comfortable with where we are competitively…we like competition, as long as they don’t rip off our [intellectual property]…and if they do, we’ll go after them.”

–Apple COO Tim Cook, January

Early this year, there was much speculation on the Web about the possibility of Apple suing Palm over the Pre’s use of an iPhone-like multi-touch interface. So far, the two companies have stayed out of court. But Apple has now responded to last month’s Nokia lawsuit over networking patents by countersuing the Finnish giant. It denies that it’s infringed Nokia’s patents–but says that Nokia has violated a passel of Apple user-interface patents. Intentionally. And unashamedly.

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