Nokia N900 gets a firmware update – PR1.2 for Maemo 5

Nokia N900 I’ve been using the Nokia N900 since March 2010, when Nokia decided to give one to every person that attended the launch. Its mostly been my roaming phone so far, and its been places ;)

Naturally, I found some problems which I very quickly wrote to Glen, who heads Product Management at Nokia Singapore/Malaysia/Brunei. I’m happy to state that these problems have been fixed in v10.2010.19-1 (PR 1.2) – see the changelog for a more complete list! This was released May 25/26 2010, worldwide, and I’m only now getting to update it. Let’s go through some of them…

Short codes (USSD) leading to “incorrect number”
I could not dial numbers that are formatted like *131#. The error message thrown at me: “incorrect number”. These codes are known as Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) codes.

I discovered this immediately within 24-hours of using the phone, largely because I had a Starhub prepaid card in it, and pretty much everything related to account management could not be done. DiGi in Malaysia uses this for checking your balance, and so on as well. Naturally, this was not something only I found – it was quite a problem on the forums too.

Pleased to report it has been fixed in PR 1.2.

Web browsing – landscape only?!?
Nokia N900Web browsing only works in landscape mode, and not portrait mode. I understand Nokia is pushing this connected device mantra, and its like your mini-computer replacement, but clearly, sometimes I want one-handed operations.

Today, it works. Not automatically – go to the web browser, look under Options – Settings, and make sure you select Enable Rotation. It takes a little over 1.5 seconds to rotate between landscape/portrait, and to be honest this seems a little slow, but it is at least fixed in PR 1.2.

Improved communications
You can now have video calls in Skype and Google Talk. You can also start using Facebook IM chat. Ovi Chat still remains. A killer? BBM chat integration!

Some things were however, not fixed, and I guess we might wait a few months before the next update happens.

  1. Copy via selecting text on the screen works in the Notes application. In the Messages application (Conversations), you can’t select using the screen, you have to use the keyboard (shift [uppercase] + up/down/left/right). This is still an inconsistent UI bug, and the messages app needs fixing
  2. More in what I consider inconsistent UI: the +/- hardware buttons are reversed when it comes to volume and zoom using the camera application. I know there is no +/- button per se, but I’d still regard this as a bug.
  3. Not a large bug in my book, but there is still no Multimedia Messaging Support (MMS).

The upgrade for me happened over the air. Half way through the upgrade I was a little worried about what might happen to my pictures. But it seems there is User Data Preservation (UDP), so I’m not complaining. Everything remained after the update – photos, contacts, text messages and more.

From a developer perspective, you’ll find that Qt 4.6.2 is now pre-installed. What does this mean to you? Check out the Qt Labs blog post on Qt 4.6.2 for Maemo 5. Kinetic scrolling is one of the things that excites me, with this change.

Anyway, if you’re a Nokia N900 user, get this firmware update. While it was non-destructive for me, your mileage may vary, so you might want to make backups.