The ‘portrait-keyboard’ package by Robin Burchell and Frals is available in extras-devel and once installed, it replaces the inbuilt virtual keyboard and pops up in its place wherever you need to enter text be it Conversations, Notes, Web Browser and so on.
It features a landscape mode (pictured above) as well as a portrait mode (pictured below). After installing the package, reboot the N900 to get this working.
No fast input. Multi-tap to enter a letter, it’s slow and *very* painful.
Changing orientation results in the text you’ve written so far being lost.
To use it, you’ll need to ‘killall hildon-input-method’ after installing the package (or reboot your n900)
It’s (a bit) painful to use in landscape mode.
Possible future directions (but this is by no means going to happen overnight, these are all quite difficult – feel free to pitch in and help):
Separate layout for landscape mode, for easier use
Fast, predictive input
This is a great start and eliminates the need of dedicated apps such as VertSMS (although it has a QWERTY layout as well). If you think you can contribute, talk to frals or w00t / w00t_ on #maemo, and see this. You can also follow this TMO thread for the latest. If you haven’t enabled extras-devel, here’s how to do it, the usual warning about software from extras-devel applies.
The PR 1.1 firmware update brings portrait mode web browsing to the N900. In order to enable auto switching between landscape and portrait when the phone is turned hit Ctrl + Shift + O on the N900’s keyboard. The next time you tilt your N900 to portrait, the web browser will automatically switch as well. You can turn this behavior off by hitting Ctrl + Shift + O again.
I’ve put together a very quick demo of the portrait mode browsing on the N900, have a look.
This is a very welcome move, although personally I would have prefered to see the Conversations app get portrait mode support first. He’s hoping that will be done in the next firmware. The portrait mode is an undocumented feature and this means that Nokia is still working on all the nuances associated with portrait browsing.
We all know that the N900 has very limited portrait mode functionality for now, only the telephone section and the odd 3rd party application support it. However, a glitch or two sometimes forces the N900 into portrait mode and if you are wondering how that looks, check out these screenshots below.
The new N900 firmware which is supposed to come around Christmas is expected to bring a little more portrait mode support, for the web browser specifically. My top picks for the title of ‘desperately need portrait mode’ are:
The Conversations App
The Task Switcher
The Drop Down N900 Status Menu
What application would you like to see in the portrait mode on a priority basis?
The lack of portrait support on the N900 has been highlighted as one of its major weakness, therefore it was no surprise that it topped the Nokia Conversations poll for the most wanted feature. Nokia understands and is at work (portrait mode for the web browser coming by Christmas) but meanwhile it looks as if the Maemo Community will also come through.
Thomas has just published a video of an application called Panucci, which is under development. Panucci is a media player for the N900 that completely supports both the portrait and the landscape mode. You can switch between modes by simply turning the device.
The above video is based on the first working version of the application and he promises it will be in extras-testing soon.
News from the Maemo Summit is starting to flow in thick and fast. First up, the N900 will get portrait browsing via an update before Christmas. Currently, the only application that works in portrait mode on the N900 is the telephone.
Next, we have been hearing about this for a while now, but Nokia has just officially announced the QT port to Maemo 5. This means that developers can now use Qt to target the upcoming Nokia N900 and also ensures that applications can be easily ported to all Qt’s supported platforms including the next Maemo 6 release as well as Symbian and Windows Mobile. The port will be based on Qt’s upcoming version 4.6 and is scheduled for final release in Q1 of 2010.
If you are developer looking to support the Qt port Maemo to Maemo 5, http://qt.gitorious.org is the place to participate in its further development. If you can looking to learn more about Qt 4.6 http://qt.nokia.com is your destination. The Symbian port of Qt 4.6 will be launched next week at the Qt Developer Days conference in Munich. The Qt port to Maemo 5 technology preview, is available at http://qt.nokia.com/maemo.
In an awesome move, Nokia is also giving all participants on the Maemo Summit a N900 on loan for 6 months in order to get feedback on the device. Yes, I know I should’ve been at the summit too! Image via Mark.