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The Nokia N9 family

GLOBAL – It’s now just over a week since the most recent software update was officially released for the Nokia N9. I actually got mine on our last day at Mobile World Congress – feverishly downloading over a terrible WiFi connection in our Barcelona apartment.

The official list of changes only includes the major feature improvements:

  • Video call support for Gtalk (get the app from Nokia Store)
  • Support for folders in the Applications view
  • Improved camera with continuous (burst) shooting (3 frames per second)
  • Face recognition for photos: easy to tag faces with names
  • New Drive features: route options, favourites, speed limit alerts, and compass support
  • Threaded view support in Mail, and access to company address book (GAL) in Mail for Exchange (MfE). (Note! Activate GAL from Accounts.)
  • Support for creating playlists and deleting songs in the music player
  • Improved web browsing history view
  • Extended copy-paste for web and documents
  • Language support for Thai, Hebrew, Persian, Vietnamese, and Kazakh
  • Hundreds of new features and usability improvements

It’s that last item that’s perhaps the most interesting. If you follow the Maemo Talk forums at all, then you’ll be aware of what some of these hundreds of improvements include.

Here are the five things I’ve most appreciated in the new update that don’t appear in the list.

1. The Snooze/Stop buttons for alarms are bigger. Sometimes, it’s the tiny details that matter the most. When you’ve just woken up, you need a chunky button to hit. The larger size also eliminates the risk of hitting Stop when you thought you were tapping Snooze – never a good way to start the day.

2. The Swype keyboard is also bigger. Swype has won many fans for its accuracy and speed, but with my chunky fingers, I found myself making a lot of typos. Now it’s bigger, I’m starting to use it as my preferred text-input method.

It’s also become less easy to swipe your way out of your app when you’re Swyping.

big alarm buttons FTW

 retrying Swype

3. The browser remembers passwords. I don’t think I need to explain why this is a very good thing.

4. The battery lasts longer. This isn’t officially documented, so maybe it depends on very particular use-cases, but I am getting a lot more time out of my N9 before it needs a charge.

5. Send pictures direct to Dropbox. Dropbox is a pretty major ingredient of my workflow. I’m also very bad at remembering to upload pictures from my phone’s camera. This helps solve both problems. Again, it’s a small update, but one that’s a real step forward for me.

And I guess that’s the point. Everyone’s list of most important features will be different. Maybe for you it’s the DLNA server and video-calling, whereas they fall into the ‘nice to have but I’ll never use’ list for me.

Which are the changes that have made the most difference to your day-to-day use of the phone?