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The Applications

Nokia gave Free Software developers a big discount because they wanted as much third-party software available as possible. To an extent, this has worked. This being a *NIX machine, one of the first applications to be ported was an xterm.

Once a terminal is running on the machine, you immediately have access to a wide range of console applications. I began writing this article in the hotel launderette while I was waiting for some clothes to wash, using vim. Having a machine capable of running vim in my pocket is great for productivity; whenever I am waiting for people or stuck with nothing to do, I can pull it out and write. If there’s a wireless access point around, I can SSH to other machines or SCP my work to a safe place when I’m finished.

While I’m talking about Internet access from the machine, it’s worth taking a look at the bundled applications. The mail client is still the worst I have ever seen. It refuses to send mail through my SMTPS server, suggesting that I might try disabling SSL. No more helpful error message appears, so I still don’t know what the problem is: my mail server certificates are all signed by CACert, and the device has the CACert root certificate installed.

The browser is still Opera. It seems Nokia’s WebCore GKT browser still isn’t ready. I don’t mind Opera; it integrates well with the device, and the zoom function (which Opera does better than any other browser I’ve used) is indispensable on such a small-screen device. One thing that did irritate me was that it wouldn’t remember passwords. I used a wireless network for a while, which required users to log in via a web page. To conserve battery power, the 770 would periodically disconnect from the access point, and I would have to re-enter the login details. The newest firmware fixes this.

The most interesting addition in the 2006 firmware is a Google Talk client (which also talks XMPP to non-Google servers). This provides instant messaging and voice over IP. It is good to see Nokia starting to put its weight behind open standards such as XMPP, although I suspect it will be a while before the mobile networks allow Jabber clients to be standard on phones. Even a comparatively bloated protocol such as XMPP looks cheap compared with $500 per megabyte for SMS...

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