Things that can and should be improved #N9 – Part 1

I’ve now been using Meego-Harmattan on the N9 for more than a week now. It is a brilliant device, with a good balance between being actually powerful and being a very use-able phone. Of course Aegis throws up a few road blocks on the freedom of the device, but there is open mode and there still isn’t any other device on the market to beat this. But, the beauty of the device and the well thought out features of the OS have been written about in length at many places all over the interwebs.

What really helps a device improve and reach its true potential is honest constructive criticisms. And unlike other platforms, Harmattan (atleast most of it) is open source and once the problems and associated solutions are identified, developers can work on them and release patches to improve the platform. And Nokia has also provided us public bug tracker where we can post bugs or enhancement requests to Nokia.

So I am documenting some of the things that I came across that can easily be improved. I will be posting enhancement requests one by one, and updating this post with the relevant details. It would be greatly appreciated if you could vote for them. I also  request you to please help me out by posting your own bug requests/enhancement requests for the ones that I haven’t gotten to yet.  Let us all work towards a better N9(50)

  • When contacts are sorted by availability, the starred contacts are not displayed at the top. This may be by design, but it would be much better if even in this mode the starred contacts are shown at the top.
    [BUG 555]

  • I find my self frequently switching between Sort by Availability and Sort Alphabetically. This is because while I always prefer to see which of my friends are online at a given time, I cannot easily scroll to my desired contact in this mode (the quick scrolling is only between online/offline/pending). This is really not a good design. One possible solution is to utilize the free space in the middle of the bottom bar (see image). Here an icon to quick switch between the two sorting modes can be provided.

  • I’m not sure if syncing of notes is possible, but a way to share notes is really needed. It should include sending via bluetooth/email/facebook notes/etc
    [bug 188]

  • Rudimentary dictaphone and drawing features would be great

  • Sleep mode needs to be implemented.

  • Bookmarks IS NOT EQUAL to homescreen shortcuts

  • Browser cannot download many types of files (MIME Types). This is a big step back from the fully featured MicroB of N900.
    [Bug 558]

  • Cut/Copy/Paste

  • Ability to view non-mobile versions of webpages (ability to change user-agent)

  • Importing feeds via OPML is absolutely necessary.
    [Bug 159]

  • Landscape support. The individual articles can be read in landscape mode, so why not the article list also. Currently, it switches from landscape-to-portrait-to-landscape while reading different articles.

  • More flexible update interval options like for email. Currently it jumps from 3 hrs to 12 hrs. 3 hours is too frequent while 12 is too infrequent.

  • This needs a complete overhaul. I’ll be discussing it in a future post.

  • A small icon when the headset is plugged in would be welcome, especially as the N9 doesn’t play well with all headsets.

  • When a new message arrives, while there is a notification at the top bar, we cannot open the messaging application from the top menu. Instead, we have to go to the events view. This seems unnecesary as providing a link to the notification below the connection/Bluetooth menu is not that difficult.

  • A way to set preference of connections is needed. For instance, if I have a 3G connection, and two wifi connections, I need to be able to give preference of connections in order. Currently the N9 seems to get confused a lot when a wifi and 3G connection are both available and set to connect automatically.

  • When bluetooth is switched off, and we share something, the bluetooth is switched on automatically. This is great. But the bad part is, it is not switched off automatically. The connections should auto-switch-off after a few minutes of inactivity.

  • Related, while  switching on bluetooth, there must be an option to switch it on only for 15 minutes or so. This helps in avoiding battery drain due to forgetting to switch BT off.
  • Also, clicking on Bluetooth on the top menu should toggle  bluetooth directly rather than taking us to the BT settings everysingle time. -Thanks PrassadSher
  • The small UI elements at corners (like the back arrow in many applications) is very difficult to press. Most of the time, it is not detected. This should be replaced with larger target areas to improve usability.

  • Arrows in vkbd. This has been implemented nicely within the terminal application. Why not everywhere else? This will be a very useful addition to have. Arrow keys are one of the things I miss most from my N900. [Bug 32]

EDIT: As pointed out by LaruX in the comments, the swype keybard has arrow keys inbuilt. This link has more details on it. But I still feel the arrow keys implemented in the terminal is a better one.

Regarding the Events view, I feel that in its current incarnation, it is not really useful and that some important changes are required. I will post about them soon. TIll then, bye! Comment below and let me know if you have found other irritating nuances in Harmattan. once again, let us all work towards a better N9. And don’t forget to utilize the bug tracker like I mentioned!

NOTE: for basic instructions regarding usage of bug tracker,  read this post at TMO


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