If you want to jump straight to the screenshots then check out this gallery on Flickr.
Nokia Beta Labs is where Nokia applications that are rough around the edges or present an experimental concept can be tried out by the enthusiastic S60 community around the world and where you can give your feedback to the developers. Today the second version (184.108.40.206) of the Nokia PC Suite was introduced and if you have to download it I hope you have broadband, it is roughly 350 MB. Granted roughly half that size is due to including the full binary of both the 32 and 64 bit version of the latest .Net framework, it’s still a little bit much.
This application isn’t really an application but more like a collection of tiny single purpose serving programs. First thing you notice when installing this beast is that there are two EULA’s, one for Nokia applications and one for third party applications. Next item of notice is an Nseries branded installer for Orb, the service that lets you get access to the content on your desktop from anywhere in the world. After the install is done you have to reboot, something I know some of you could care less about, but for others such as myself is an inconvenience I want to go thru as few times as possible in life.
The splash screen has the same theme as the N95 8GB and N81 I saw at the London Go Play event. I loathe splash screens and can’t turn this one off.
Orb launches and asks you to create an account if you don’t already have one.
After all that you are finally presented with the application. It has a similar design concept as a Sony PSP or the carrousel view presented at the London event called a cross media bar. There are 4 buttons on top signifying music, photos, internet and settings and depending on which of these buttons you press you see a different set of applications in a column.
Under the music column you have Windows Media Player 11, Nokia Music Manager and a link to nseries.com/music.
Photos simply has Nokia Photos.
Internet has “One Touch Access” which is Nokia’s way of letting you use your phone as a modem by simply hitting a button and links to N-Gage, N-Series and Nokia.
Settings is where you see a lot of applications you will probably run very infrequently: Nseries Update Manager, Software Updater, Content Copier, Your Feedback, Nokia PC Sync, Map Loader, Explore your device, Settings, Download!, Connection Manager, Application Manager and finally the Get Connected Wizard.
My problem with all this is who gives Nokia the right to decide what application fits into which space? Why would Download! be under settings and not under Internet? Why is Map Loader under settings and not a new category called Maps? Why do I have to remember which button on top gives me whichever application I am trying to look for?
Nokia has a lot to learn from Apple and Microsoft. Windows Vista and Mac OS X have this philosophy of having a search bar everywhere. Can’t figure out how to change your wallpaper from the control panel? Type in wallpaper and Windows will take you to the right pane. Need to launch Microsoft Word? Hit the Windows button and type in W-o-r and you can see any application, document or email you may have on your machine that have those 3 letters.
This glorified application launcher looks gorgeous, but takes up nearly 85 MB of RAM, which is a lot for something that does relatively nothing.
The music manager is something I couldn’t figure out. Then again I’m a traditionalist, I have all my music setup by artist/album in folders.
The photo manager can’t even connect to my N95.
Overall I’m disappointed. Ricky Cadden from Symbia-Guru said it best: “Nokia sucks at desktop apps.” He is right, they are absolutely horrid. It is remarkable how many Nokia employees who I will not mention by name say: “The PC suite is shit.” or “I hate the PC Suite.”
Now some of you may have noticed the Ovi wallpaper I use. That word means “door” in Finnish first of all, but it is also Nokia’s brand name for their new slew of applications and services they intend to provide directly to consumers over the course of the 12-18 months. If the PC Suite is the first indication of what we have to look forward to then I say relocate to Silicon Valley because the people working on your applications now are not cutting it.
Forget about the Nokia PC Suite and forget about .Net. If I could tell the project manager of this application anything it would be to go with Adobe AIR and create a portal that all of these applications have to plug into. What you have right now can be created by a 15 year old punk who knows how to make Flash interfaces that can point to shortcuts that are already on a users desktop. Try and integrate all these services and offer an experience via some sort of portal because right now I simply can not say 1 good thing about this 350 MB raised on a pedestal application launcher.
Look at iTunes and how that application is essentially a container for an online portal that is constantly updated. How will you (Nokia) inform a user about a new service you just launched? Hope they read your press release? Hope the internet blogged about it? How about having a user open the application the next time they are in front of their computer and see a little hyperlink that says “hey look, we just launched ABC123, click here to learn more and try it out!”
If you’re going to compete in the software and services game then you have to play by Google and Microsoft’s rules. They constantly promote other applications and services they have while you’re already using one of theirs. Try iGoogle, Google News for the latest information, Click here to see this document in Google Docs, Free Hotmail account, etc.
Here are a few questions you should be asking yourself: Say a user is listening to the latest 50 Cent song in the Music Manager, how are you going to tell that user to check out artists similar to 50 Cent at the Nokia Music Store? How are you going to tell that user to check out some 50 Cent music videos people uploaded to Twango? How are you going to tell that user that a lot of people are sharing a 50 Cent ringtone on MOSH?
A suite is a collection of applications that work beautifully together, Microsoft Office and Apple’s iLife come to mind. This thing you dare call a “suite” should be torched and abandoned.