In this edition...

  1. Front Page
    • Nokia make Windows Phone their strategic smartphone OS
    • Intel and Linux Foundation react with surprise and disappointment, but still have hopes for MeeGo
    • MeeGo tablets and smartphones at Mobile World Congress?
  2. Development
    • Qt Creator tips for producing autobuilder source packages and skipping packaging for fast testing
    • Maps & navigation in Qt on N900 using snapshots
    • Work to get cell broadcast messages working on N900
    • Qt's future
  3. Community
    • Quim Gil thoughts
    • What now for MeeGo? Some proposals
  4. Devices
    • Intel unveil MeeGo 1.2's Tablet UX
  5. In the Wild
    • Myriad Alien Dalvik allows Android apps on Maemo
    • CEO of Nokia lays out the problems in internal memo
    • Developers already start abandoning Qt
  6. Announcements
    • Mosquitto for MQ Telemetry Transport publish/subscribe for Maemo 4 & 5
    • SMSBomb for sending a specified number of SMS messages to a number
    • TwimGo 2.7 updated with bug fixes and new dark theme

Front Page

Nokia make Windows Phone their strategic smartphone OS

The news has been everywhere, including the BBC television bulletins: Nokia are abandoning hopes of owning the entirety of their stack and the board - led by CEO Stephen Elop - has decided to partner with Microsoft. The main reasons cited are Nokia's lack of ability to deliver a next generation mobile OS, and an ecosystem to go with it. Elop's conclusion is to go back to his old employer and use their OS, platform and ecosystem: Nokia will adopt Windows Phone as its primary smartphone strategy, innovating on top of the platform in areas such as imaging, where Nokia is a market leader. Nokia will help drive and define the future of Windows Phone. Nokia will contribute its expertise on hardware design, language support, and help bring Windows Phone to a larger range of price points, market segments and geographies. Microsoft development tools will be used to create applications to run on Nokia Windows Phones, allowing developers to easily leverage the ecosystem’s global reach. Reaction has not been positive. Some elements of the US technical press are enthusiastic, but Nokia shares were down 15% following the news and the reaction from developers has been swift and visceral. Nokia finally had a good developer story: Symbian at the mid-range, MeeGo at the high-end with Qt and QML as the common development platform; and were delivering some cutting edge and exciting developer tools (such as the new Qt Creator with QML support). It is sad to see that MeeGo hasn't been given a chance, and one wonders how things might have been different were Nokia to push MeeGo forward hard, and release a couple of astounding devices this year. Having said that, it's easy to see what each side gets:

* Nokia don't join an existing ecosystem with established players and commodity hardware. However, they do leap frog the development of their own OS and get one ready made whilst also reducing costs.

* Microsoft get an experienced, big name hardware vendor on side for a platform which is otherwise quite niche. They get global supply chain and logistics, as well as access to some services.

Your editor, along with many others, was looking forward to an updated N900, running an evolution of Maemo 5 with a shinier user interface; better battery life and slightly less bulk. Looking around the mobile landscape, there's no obvious alternative at the moment, with HP's webOS series of devices looking most likely. It's sad to think that the N900 might have been a "Concorde moment"; and Nokia's MeeGo device will be treated similarly to the 770 five years ago, but without the future promise of OS 2005. Unless there's a change in Nokia's leadership (or at least Nokia's leadership's mind), the MeeGo device from Nokia will be stillborn.

There are, of course, many others involved in MeeGo, and so MeeGo itself may see some traction, especially in tablet computers. However, getting another major consumer electronics manufacturer to make MeeGo a core plank of its strategy - when they see that one of MeeGo's cofounders won't - will be hard work.

But there is a possible benefit to existing N900 users. With no clear successor device, some people will keep theirs for a bit longer, others - who may have been waiting for the Harmattan device - may now buy one. This means the Community SSU can have more users, more developers and more polish. Already we've seen patches which fix hildon-desktop's CPU eating bug; make Modest work better offline; make Modest more conformant to standards; an improved TV-out control panel plugin; an improved notification LED control panel plugin and so on. Many of these also widen the system's support of portrait usage.

We also already have improved development tools with the Qt SDK. Although there may not be a compelling new device, we have a reinvigorated platform. Maybe that's enough.

Intel and Linux Foundation react with surprise and disappointment, but still have hopes for MeeGo

Nokia's decision came as much as a surprise to their MeeGo partners as it did to the rest of us. In separate announcements, both Intel and Jim Zemlin (Executive Director of the Linux Foundation) claim that although they're disappointed with Nokia's decision, MeeGo continues for them. Respectively: Although Nokia has been an important partner to Intel and MeeGo and we are disappointed by this decision, it’s important to know that this is by no means the end of MeeGo or the end to Intel’s commitment and the continued progress MeeGo has made and is making to the multi-device ecosystem.

The Linux Foundation is disappointed in Nokia's decision today to choose Microsoft as the primary platform for its mobile phones. Tough times give birth to difficult decisions that we don't always agree with, but open source is -- at its core -- about choice. We believe that open source software is more than a sum of its parts, and the market is currently bearing that out. There is no word yet as to the effect on MeeGo's marketing budget, with the MeeGo Conference in San Francisco in May approaching quickly.

MeeGo tablets and smartphones at Mobile World Congress?

There's not much to say about a photo of Intel's MeeGo stand at next week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona; however there are rumours we'll see some real devices (rather than reference designs); and this photo shows a handset (in an LG style?) as well as a full featured tablet.


Qt Creator tips for producing autobuilder source packages and skipping packaging for fast testing

Attila Csipa shows how the Qt SDK can be used to produce source tarballs which can be uploaded to the autobuilder for delivery into Extras: I hear this question every now and then - how do you avoid going to the command line and/or scratchbox to generate your uploads for Extras? There are plenty of ways of doing it (simple and not-so-simple), with some guidance even, but here's the 'how I do it' post. He also describes how the Qt Creator nightly allows you to bypass the packaging stage, allowing for quicker deployment of applications to devices during development testing.

Maps & navigation in Qt on N900 using snapshots

Qt's cross-platform vision continues apace with the available of mapping and navigation functions available in the latest Qt Mobility snapshots: Regardless of the Qt and Qt Mobility versions provided by the Maemo 5 firmware, an evaluation build of the latest Qt and Qt Mobility is available from the Extras-devel repository. These libraries cannot be used for publishing software to Ovi (or promoted to Extras) nor do they come with any warranty, but are good for evaluating real-life performance and behavior. The components that are part of this initiative are labeled with experimental in their package names. They are installed in parallel to the Maemo 5 libraries, so they pose minimal danger to your existing install and do not affect stable software written for Maemo. Perhaps this will make it easier for someone to build an open source clone of Ovi Maps, whist addressing some of the functional papercuts in its Maemo version.

Work to get cell broadcast messages working on N900

Jonathan Wilson is working on figuring out how to add support for the cell broadcast messages. Unfortunately, that work is blocked by two issues: documentation for the dbus signals related to the messages, and header files for the connectivity UI's shared libraries: Cell Broadcast SMS is used for a few things, the most common use is for operators to display a cell tower name or ID or location (my operator displays usually a suburb name or sometimes the name of a large venue like an airport or train station or shopping center where it has a tower). Its also used to send various kinds of emergency messages for things like fires, floods, cyclones etc. My investigations have shown that the N900 cellular modem and telephony stack already support Cell Broadcast SMS. Hopefully Nokia will be able to help, although current events may lead one to believe they have other issues on their minds.

Qt's future

Daniel Kihlberg, Director of Qt Ecosystem, lays out his thoughts following Nokia's strategic shift: Wow, what a day… Nokia outlined its new platform strategy for smartphones, with Windows Phones as it primary smartphone platform in a proposed partnership with Microsoft… and Microsoft’s tools would be used for Nokia Windows Phone application development … and guess what, it has raised a lot of questions in the Qt community. He goes on to say that the MeeGo device will have Qt at its core, that the future sales target of 150-million Symbian devices is important and that Qt still has a future. The question still remains, however, as to what that future will look like if Symbian is a long-term dead-end.


Quim Gil thoughts

Quim Gil is Nokia's MeeGo Community Manager, and has been involved in Maemo for years. In a post on, he describes his thoughts so far: I have to say that I'm waiting for more news to come in relation to Qt and MeeGo, from Nokia, from my colleagues working in these teams and from other Qt and MeeGo stakeholders. Mobile World Congress hasn't even started and the dust from yesterday's announcements is far from settled.

I understand how someone reading yesterday's headlines and trying to catch up with all the heated feedback and rumors can get to fast conclusions about Nokia and its role around Qt and MeeGo. Even to fast conclusions about Qt and MeeGo themselves. With the news only coming out on Friday, it's obvious that Nokia as an organisation needs to digest the changes before people and projects understand the full impact.

What now for MeeGo? Some proposals

Fallout from Nokia's recent announcements is still on its way down, but David Greaves is looking towards the future: So Nokia has dramatically reduced commitment to MeeGo and has cited, amongst other things, MeeGo's inability to deliver a focussed baseline with sufficient speed. I happen to agree with this failure (and given Nokia was a significant part of MeeGo's management I don't think there's a blame issue - more a how do we fix it issue) David goes on to list a focus on providing a base for vendors, and a platform for developers, as realistic deliverables for the MeeGo project; something your editor happens to agree with. MeeGo can target vendors as an open provider of an "ecosystem in a box". This is effectively what Elop wanted, but couldn't wait for MeeGo to deliver. Providing vendors with a ready base, app stores and a slew of developers is the best way forward in your editor's opinion.


Intel unveil MeeGo 1.2's Tablet UX

In more "big reveal" thinking, Intel have showed off the new MeeGo 1.2 Tablet UX at Mobile World Congress. In a well-received memo last year, Carsten Munk railed against the "big reveal" culture. At a time when confidence in MeeGo is shaken, showing something shiny is good. However, MeeGo's selling point to date has been, we're told, it's openness. This hasn't been developed in the open, has no MeeGo 1.2 feature items and so Intel shouldn't be able to claim this is the MeeGo Tablet UX without ratification of the TSG. In a blog post, Bob Duffy says: I was lucky enough to get an early version of the pre-alpha MeeGo tablet User experience, so I thought I'd share my experience. I'm drafting this post almost a week before it comes out, so the version I'm testing may be a version or two behind the actual release of the alpha. Note, I'll add notes to my post for any changes once this launches. It's important to put this release in context. This is an alpha release for developers. When a consumer tablet goes to market it will benefit of a future beta version and eventual gold code. It will also have an OEM UI that may add or deviate from what Intel & MeeGo are providing in this pre-alpha version. The purpose of this release is to get a tablet user experinece in the hands of developers to start creating and testing apps for MeeGo tablets. So there is much more to be done here before there is a consumer ready product. However the core functionality and working APIs are in this release and you can get a good idea of how a MeeGo tablet will work from this release. It's even worse in that the development images are hosted on behind an obnoxious EULA. If MeeGo becomes dependent on Intel throwing code over the wall when they have built something shiny in their R&D labs it has nothing to differentiate it from Android, which is similarly dependent on Google.

In the Wild

Myriad Alien Dalvik allows Android apps on Maemo

Myriad, a French/Swiss software company specializing in mobile phones, has announced Alien Dalvik, which will provide a Dalvik VM for non-Android platforms. Building on the launch of Dalvik Turbo, Alien Dalvik signifies Myriad’s latest Android innovation by enabling Android apps to operate on a much wider range of platforms and devices. As a result, operators, OEMs and application store owners can now easily access the Android ecosystem and deploy Android applications across multiple device operating systems, all without compromising performance. Alien Dalvik enables the majority of Android applications to run unmodified, allowing application store owners to quickly kick start Android application store services by simply repackaging Android Package (APK) files. If reasonably capable, availability of a large portion of Android's application catalog could be a large selling point for other platforms. A demo on the N900 will be shown at MWC and it will, apparently, be commercially available for MeeGo later this year.

CEO of Nokia lays out the problems in internal memo

Ahead of Friday's announcement came the publication of a leaked copy of a memo sent from Stephen Elop. More of a historical footnote now, it notes the problems Nokia have in delivery and in the market: The first iPhone shipped in 2007, and we still don't have a product that is close to their experience. Android came on the scene just over 2 years ago, and this week they took our leadership position in smartphone volumes. Unbelievable.

We have some brilliant sources of innovation inside Nokia, but we are not bringing it to market fast enough. We thought MeeGo would be a platform for winning high-end smartphones. However, at this rate, by the end of 2011, we might have only one MeeGo product in the market. The memo mentions nothing about Microsoft - nor would it, they barely register as a competitor - and was, unfortunately mistakenly, seen as a sign that Elop might plough resources into MeeGo to get it out and successful.

Developers already start abandoning Qt

One developer does not a trend make, and we're not interested in whether or not *Nokia* retain developers - instead, Qt is integral to MeeGo and without a vendor in the market, those who have invested time and money in aligning with Nokia's Qt vision have been burnt for the last time: I announced a Qt/N900 version last spring. Unfortunately Nokia has been unable to execute its Qt strategy (that I thought was great) and today they announced that they will drop it. Nokia will go with Windows Phone 7 and Microsoft developer tools. This means that to support new Nokia phones I would have to write RaceChrono again using proprietary languages like Silverlight and C#, which seems totally unreasonable. Also as Qt is dropped, you can forget me ever announcing Qt/N900 version. It will not happen, sorry!


Mosquitto for MQ Telemetry Transport publish/subscribe for Maemo 4 & 5

Yuvraaj Kelkar has ported the Mosquitto pub/sub transport to Diablo and Fremantle: I needed a decent open source and easily configurable way to provide push support for all the services that would benefit from using a push model. For example, email: wouldn't it be nice if there were a way for a script to subscribe to a feed that updated whenever there was a new email? That script would run on the n900 and would initiate an email update only when it got the update message. No more email polling = more battery life. This can be applied to other things as well - for example, updating DialCentral or TOR or qgvdial whenever there is a contacts update... or on an incoming GV Text message... or an incoming GV phone call... Packages for developers are available in both Diablo and Fremantle's Extras-devel.

SMSBomb for sending a specified number of SMS messages to a number

A new application from Tom D, SMSBomb, allows users to automatically send a series of text messages at a specified interval: This application sends a specified number of SMS messages to a phone number with a specified delay between each message. It supports several different SMS services, including carrier SMS, and Google Voice (using qgvdial). Although the author explains its intended primarily for research purposes, the most predictable usage is likely for pranking or irritation, so users should probably understand the potentian criminal implications of mass SMS spam (depending on your jurisdiction). Also: it's in Extras-devel.

TwimGo 2.7 updated with bug fixes and new dark theme

Tommi Laukkanen has announced a new release of TwimGo, his QML-based Twitter client, with bug fixes and a new dark theme: I spent last few days testing my recent changes to TwimGo, Qt based Twitter client. Now it uses darker theme which looks awesome on my N8 and N900 and should look magical on your E7′s ClearBlack screens (let me know how it looks :)). I also tweaked the buttons look&feel and I think that they look stunning now. I might release the Button component as separate QML file if you wish. Tommi is still distributing the app as binary packages available from