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Some Thoughts on S60 3rd Edition FP2

Now that I finally have a Nokia N96, as I wrote about on Joy of Gadgets, I can actually comment on some of the new features of S60 3rd Edition FP2. I have a phone that is currently not released that is running it, so I’ve had some exposure to it before now. I wanted to have a released phone to compare it with.

One of the first things they did differently in S60 v3 FP2 is the networking stack. It’s still not quite as opportunistic as a Windows Mobile device, but they do implement something called Network Destinations, which helps quite a bit. It allows you to group various access points into “groups” and organize these access points by priority. Applications can refer to this group instead of an individual access point.

The upshot of referring to a group of prioritized access point is you get something close to an opportunistic networking stack, but not quite. For example, in my Internet group, I have three access points: my home WiFi, the WiFi at my local YMCA, and the AT&T Internet access point. When I fire up the web browser, I specify the Internet group and it will try to reach the defined WiFi access points, falling back to AT&T Internet (EDGE) if nothing else is available. You can have it prompt you for each AP it tries or you can configure an individual access point to always allow you to connect.

The problem with these groups: it only works with apps that know to use them. For example, Jaiku and Mail for Exchange completely ignore them, as do the built-in Share Online and Search tools. I imagine that applications will be updated to support this over time.

Another thing I noticed, specifically with the N96, was that the Podcasting application was more integrated into the phone than before. It’s still a separate application, but at least now I’ve been able to delete podcasts from the Music Player and have the Podcasting application automatically be updated of that fact. I deleted some podcasts earlier today and this update did not happen.

One other feature in FP2 is that the web browser has a sort of Download Manager. When files are downloaded in many cases, particularly downloadable applications, they are not executed right away. You are given the chance to Save them somewhere–nice–run them, or delete them.

In the Messaging application, when creating a new message, you can choose to insert content just like in previous versions. Instead of getting a multi-level menu, there is a generic “Insert Content” menu option and out pops a toolbar where you can select pictures, video, music, text, or “other.” Seems like a minor usability improvement.

The other thing in the Messaging application was that it was able to more easily set up my Gmail account. It was able to auto-detect most of the settings, except for my name–to be expected. However, it was nice not to have to enter the basics to get up and running.

There are probably some other usability enhancements in FP2 as well, though those are the ones I noticed first. Any others I’ve missed?

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