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GLOBAL – Part of what makes a great smartphone smart is the ability to install apps and to even keep you updated on what’s going on in the world – automatically. Email and RSS feeds are an example of this and here we’ll explain how these work. Plus, we’ve had a quick look at the Notes app, too, for good measure.

RSS on the Nokia N9

If you like your newspaper delivered to your door in the mornings, the chances are you’ll also like the RSS experience on a phone. It’s a similar way of receiving news. Rather than logging onto a website to read a story, you subscribe to a particular site using their RSS feed – if they have one – and their latest news will be displayed on your phone through the built-in RSS reader. It also works in the background downloading stories that you can read offline, such as on an underground train, for example.

On the Nokia N9, you first need to find the Feeds icon – it’s bright orange – within the menu screen and select it.

The best place to start from here is by pressing the Plus symbol in the menu bar at the bottom. From here, you’ll need to enter an address to an RSS feed – if you know it. You will usually find these on the site you’re trying to subscribe to, so make sure to have that handy first. We’ve added a couple – including our own – to the list as an example for you, as you can see in the screenshot below.

Another nice feature of the Nokia N9 is that you can have these feeds updated in your notifications screen, just like your Facebook and Twitter notifications do.

Email on the Nokia N9

Nowadays, email is a big part of everybody’s life. It’s the main way I communicate to my work colleagues who are scattered across the land in the UK, or even overseas. That means it’s important to have a really good email client on your mobile phone, especially one that handles attachments well. Let’s find out how the Nokia N9 handles emails and in particular, the attachments.

I’ve set up this Nokia N9 prototype up with two accounts. One is a Gmail account and the other is an Ovi Mail account. Setting them up is quite straight forward. You select the email host you’re using from the list provided and if it’s not on that list, just click Other to enter your email address and password and that’s it, the client does the rest for you. Once your account or accounts are set up on your phone, you’ll see these listed in the email section.

Upon receiving an email with an attachment, you’ll see these listed at the top of the email, just under the sender details.

Email attachments

We’ve created a couple of documents for this test, a simple written piece of text in Word format and a list using Excel. As you can see, when you press on the attachments in the original email, it opens the Attachments screen. It’s here you can interact with them. Selecting one will open it to full screen where you’ll be given the option to view the document in more detail and then save it – if you wish. Otherwise, pressing the done button will return you to the attachment screen.

Here are the attachments once we’ve selected them from the email attachments page:

If you chose to save these documents, you can find them again in the documents folder in the main menu.

Meeting invites

Another important feature people need on their mobile phones is the ability to accept meeting requests and add them to their phone’s calendar. On the Nokia N9, once you receive a meeting request via email, you can initially view the meeting details in the original email. By clicking the invite.ics attachment at the top of the email you’ll be able to perform the usual options, such as respond to the invite using the Accept, Tentative, Decline buttons and add it to your calendar. It’s these features that mean you never need miss an appointment again.

Notes on the Nokia N9

I use notes quite a lot. It’s a quick and easy way for me to remember simple things I’d usually forget in a busy day. Things like “Bring home some milk”, or “Phone the bank”. Here’s how notes works.

In the menu screen, find the little yellow icon with the words Notes underneath it and press it. That’ll take you to the notes screen – which should currently be empty – where you’ll see a plus symbol at the bottom and where some text in the middle, reading Add your first note.

Once you’ve pressed the plus symbol, the screen will split into two parts. A white text field at the top and the keyboard below. There’s even a handy date and time stamp on the top so you know exactly when this note was created. Using the onscreen keyboard, you type out your memo, just like we’ve done on in our screenshot. You’ll be happy to know this you’re also able to write in landscape mode, if you prefer.

Once you’ve typed out your note, you can interact with that text. Pressing on the text itself will open up a small menu where you can use features such as underline, bold or italic. If you want to copy and paste, you can do that, too. Run your finger over the chosen words, and they will highlight to blue. A small pop up bubble will appear with the words cut and copy. Select your preferred option.

One other icon in that pop-up bubble is the options icon. This is where you can change the font, the font size and even the font colour.

Note to self complete, hit the orange save button at the top of the page and your text is saved, ready for you to check later when you need that reminder.

Are you an RSS feed fanatic? Or are emails vital for your day-to-day correspondence? Or maybe you rely on notes to keep you from forgetting things? Whatever your need, all three of these features are handy.