Having used the N97 for a few days now, I have come to the conclusion that the N97 has huge potential. Nokia has done a good job putting all the hardware in, (the RAM and processor groans aside) what actually needs some work is the software. In this post I will not be crying about the initial the firmware that Nokia has shipped the device with, but look at certain software tweaks that can help improve the N97 experience to a very large extent.
As far as the bugs, stability and performance issues go, I am hoping that the v11 firmware that comes out on July 1st will take care of them. Here are a few suggestions that I sincerely hope people churning out the next firmware take into account.
- KEYPAD: The keypad must allow us to ‘long press’ in order to get numerals. It might not be a bad idea to enable the long press for other keys as well. Having to hit the blue arrow each time in order to enter numbers or a symbol is a pain.
- PREDICTIVE TEXT: I’ve mentioned that predictive text actually improves the N97 typing experience, but only when writing a message. On all other occasions it actually hampers free typing, specially when writing in a text box where the difference between the typed and suggested word is not shown. Other gripes are here; basically we need the E71 module to be put in here, pronto.
- HOMESCREEN WIDGET MANAGEMENT: When I currently try and add a widget to the homescreen which is already full, instead of telling me its full and giving an error, it would be much nicer if I were given the option to replace a widget there and then. Most people will have all 5 slots full all the time, so instead of having to edit, remove and then add, the above would make it a much more pleasant experience. I would also like a second widgetised homescreen which we could access by swiping a finger across the screen, however I’m not very hopeful given the RAM situation on the N97.
- SHORTCUTS I: Moving onto shortcuts. In the landscape mode, with the keyboard out the first four keys in all three lines should act as shortcuts to the menu items being displayed. This was true for older devices but it seems to have been overlooked in Nokia’s first S60 5th Edition non touch only device.
- SHORTCUTS II: Another place where the keyboard needs to provide shortcuts is in the Web Browser. When it has loaded a website in the full screen mode, it takes me three steps to reach the ‘Bookmarks’, wouldn’t it be nice if I could hit ‘1’ for ‘Bookmarks’, ‘2’ for ‘Find’ and so on, exactly like what used to happen on a N95. If I’m not wrong, I think even the E90 could do it with its QWERTY.
- TEXT SELECTION: The next thing that needs a bit of work is the copy/paste function. In my experience, the device can use the keyboard (Shift+Navi Pad) to select text, however the same is only true for apps such as Notes and Messaging. This did not work for me in the web browser while entering text, needless to say, this is something that should work across all applications. The next thing is that there is no ‘Select All’ functionality and this becomes even more irritating because the keys that are used to select text are next to each other. It would be much more ergonomic if we could select with the blue arrow (last key third row) and the Navi Pad. On the other hand, ‘Shift’ should support the usual Ctrl+A/X/C/V functionality with the corresponding letter.
These were some of the points I could thing of while using the N97, I’m sure you have many more ideas which will go a long way in improving the N97, please put them down in the comments section and I’ll periodically keep updating this post so that it can serve as a ready reckoner.