Posts Tagged ‘Asha’
Nokia took to its blog today to introduce Xpress Now, an enhanced version of its Xpress browser. Made for Asha devices, the web app delivers personalized content suggestions based both on your personal preferences and those of the browser’s “more than 80 million monthly users.” These new recommendations come courtesy of three separate browsers views: What’s Hot, You May Also like and Most Liked. The categories are largely self-explanatory, and we imagine suggested content will be more spot-on after the app has been around for a few months. For the time being, though, Nokia Xpress Now is in beta in India, and it should make its away to other countries later in 2013.
Source: Conversations by Nokia
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Nokia’s Smarterphone Buy Yields First Fruit: $99 Touchscreen Asha 501 Polishes S40 With Fastlane View For Recent Apps, Contacts
Nokia has given its Series 40-based range of touchscreen Asha smartphones another push to try to keep up with the low end reach of Google’s Android platform today. The mobile maker has announced a new addition to the range — the Asha 501 (pictured left & below) — which also ushers in a new version of the Asha touch UI that’s designed to be quicker and slicker, and has a focus on swiping gestures to make it feel more fluid.
The three-inch capacitive screen Asha 501, which has Wi-Fi but no 3G and costs $ 99 before taxes & subsidies, is expected to start shipping in June, via some 60 carriers in more than 90 countries worldwide. Nokia’s Asha range typically targets emerging markets in Africa, Asia and South America but Asha devices have also been ranged in Europe.
Although Nokia has retired its other in-house platform Symbian, to concentrate its smartphone efforts on Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS, it has continued to expand its portfolio of low end Android alternative S40-based devices — adding in a variety of new hardware and software features to devices in the range, including full Qwerty keyboards; dedicated keys for Facebook/WhatsApp; refreshed industrial design; its Bluetooth sharing technology Slam; its Xpress browser to lighten the data consumption load; preloaded social networking apps; free games downloads; and a focus on long battery life.
But keeping up with low end Androids also means improving Asha’s usability — and that’s what its latest platform refresh is all about. The Asha 501 is in fact the first fruit of Nokia’s 2012 acquisition of Smarterphone, a Norwegian company that made mobile OSes for feature phones designed to give them smartphone looks and capabilities.
Nokia said the new Asha platform is faster and more responsive. It also introduces a touchscreen UI refresh — with a dual homescreen view: the Home screen is a “traditional icon-based view for launching individual apps or accessing a specific feature”, while the new Fastlane view changes based on device usage, showing things like “recently accessed contacts, social networks and apps”.
Fastlane “provides a record of how the phone is used, giving people a glimpse of their past, present and future activity, and helping them multi-task by providing easy access to their favorite features”, according to Nokia’s press release. The feature sounds a lot like certain portions of Motorola’s Android skinning software — such as the widgets deployed on 2012 devices like the Motorola Motosmart.
The overall idea of the design refresh is to make it easier for Asha users to get to the apps and features they’re after, according to Nokia – with the two main screens accessible by a “simple swipe”. ”Fastlane is integral to the whole Nokia Asha 501 experience, but so is the ‘swipe’ motion,” a spokeswoman told TechCrunch. “With swipe as you experience it on the device, we were able to make optimal use of screen space, so you see just what you need. You swipe to everything else, including pull-down menus and of course, Fastlane. The whole user experience is faster and more responsive.”
New Asha, New Apps
So what about apps? The new Asha platform does require developers to rework apps for it — either by writing them afresh or porting them over. Which does mean Nokia is pushing the reset button yet again, but the company would probably argue that at this price point with these price-conscious consumers, users aren’t expecting hoards of apps — just select key apps. It’s also added in-app purchases to the new Asha platform, offering developers a new way to monetise Asha apps, along with its Nokia Advertising Exchange and carrier billing network.
“A good percentage of existing apps can be ported to the new platform,” said Nokia’s spokeswoman. “We already have many developers working on this. Going forward and with the new Nokia Asha Software Development Kit, developers can write an app once, and it will be compatible with future devices also built on the new Asha platform, with no need to re-write code.”
Apps that are already available for the new Nokia Asha platform include CNN, eBuddy, ESPN, Facebook, Foursquare, Line, LinkedIn, Nimbuzz, Pictelligent, The Weather Channel, Twitter, WeChat, World of Red Bull and games from Electronic Arts, Gameloft, Indiagames, Namco Bandai and Reliance Games. Nokia said its HERE location software will also be available as a download, starting in Q3 this year — and will “initially include basic mapping services”.
Messaging giant WhatsApp is noticeably absent from the list but Nokia’s spokeswoman suggested that may change in future, noting: “WhatsApp and other key partners continue to explore new Asha.”
In select markets, certain carriers are also offering data-free access to apps including the Facebook app and mobile website on the 501 for a limited time, offering another hook for the target cost-conscious consumers.
The 501 comes preloaded with Nokia’s cloud-based data compressing Xpress browser. Nokia has also created a new web app, called Nokia Xpress Now, which ”recommends content based on location, preferences and trending topics”. It said this will be available via the Browser homepage or as a download from the Nokia Store.
“Nokia has surpassed expectations of what’s achievable in the sub-100 USD phone category with a new Asha handset that is unlike any other, with design cues from Lumia and a mix of features, services and affordability that is valued by price-conscious buyers,” said Neil Mawston, executive director, Global Wireless Practice, Strategy Analytics, in a supporting statement.
Commenting on the launch via Twitter, Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi added: “Asha 501 shows what you can achieve when you design bottom up rather than strip down features to hit the right price point.
“Asha 501 Dual SIM with hot swap very important to users but what is most striking on this device is the user interface.”
The full device specifications for the Asha 501 are as follows:
Dimensions: 99.2 x 58 x 12.1 mm; 98 grams
Camera: 3.2 MP
Single SIM standby time: up to 48 days
Dual SIM standby time: up to 26 days
Talk time: up to 17 hours
Additional memory of 4GB (card included in box), expandable up to 32GB
Forty free EA Games worth €75 downloadable from Nokia Store
Available colours: Bright Red, Bright Green, Cyan, Yellow, White and Black
Suggested pricing is 99 USD before taxes and subsidies.
Nokia Puts WhatsApp Hard Key On $72 Asha 210 For Asia, Africa; Qwerty S40 Handset Gets Facebook Button In Europe, Latam
Nokia has announced another handset in its Series 40-based Asha portfolio of low end mobiles which compete with the budget end of Android and cheap BlackBerrys. The 2G-plus-Wi-Fi Asha 210, due to ship before the end of Q2, packs a physical Qwerty keyboard and comes painted in Nokia’s now trademark eye-popping colours (yellow, cyan, magenta), plus black and white. But the most notable addition to this BlackBerry-esque device is a hardware key on the front that short-cuts to messaging app WhatsApp — which, extending the BlackBerry comparison, is the phone’s BBM replacement.
As well as the ability to fire up WhatsApp by long pressing on this dedicated key, Nokia said Asha 210 buyers will get a free subscription to the messaging service for the lifetime of the device. On the Series 40 platform, WhatsApp normally charges a $ 0.99 annual fee after a first year of free use. Last week the messaging service said it now has north of 200 million monthly active users (this compares to BBM’s more modest 60 million). Tapping into the hugely popular social messaging craze is clearly Nokia’s aim here.
Nokia describes the Asha 210′s WhatsApp hardware key as a “world first”, although we’ve seen the mobile maker (and others) stick a Facebook button on a phone before. But before you start wondering how displeased Facebook is going to be with Nokia for two-timing it with a deadly messaging rival, the handset actually comes in two social messaging flavours, with a second variant having a dedicated Facebook key (shown below, on the black handset) instead of a WhatsApp button.
The two Asha 210 social flavours — which also each come in single SIM/dual SIM variants – won’t be offered together in the same market but will rather be region specific, presumably corresponding to where the respective services are most popular. Neil Broadley, marketing director for Nokia’s mobile phones division, told TechCrunch the WhatsApp device will generally target Asia-Pac and Middle East & Africa, while the Facebook flavour will mostly be heading to Europe and Latin America. He also confirmed that neither device will be sold in North American.
Both of our partners are hugely successful around the world.
“On a market by market basis we will have either WhatsApp or Facebook,” said Broadley. “Both of our partners are hugely successful around the world and as we go on a market by market basis, some of our market teams would like to have the WhatsApp variant, some would like to have the Facebook variant. And of course we already have the Nokia Asha 205 on a global basis with the Facebook hard key there as well.”
Broadley added that Nokia is looking at the possibility of making a third variant of the Asha 210 — specifically targeting the Chinese market — with another, as yet undetermined social service loaded on the hard key (China has a variety of homegrown social services that outstrip the popularity of global offerings, such as microblogging service Sina Weibo vs Twitter). Nokia certainly has work to do to win back buyers in China. In its Q1 results last week, China saw the biggest drop of any of Nokia’s regions in terms of sales by value and volume, with $ 334 million in sales in Greater China, down 56% on the year ago quarter.
Low end hardware + social software
Aside from differing social shortcuts, the Asha 210 variants have identical hardware and software, with a sub-1Ghz chip; 2 megapixel rear camera plus a dedicated camera key on the front of the device (in addition to the WhatsApp/Facebook key plus standard nav/call keys); Nokia’s Slam Bluetooth-sharing data transfer tech and its hot-swap SIM system; plus a rubberised full Qwerty keyboard which recycles the pillowed keys of 2008′s Nokia E71. The keyboard also includes shortcut keys for turning on/off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
On the software front, the device comes with WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter preloaded; support for YouTube streaming and web apps; a ‘Games Gift’ of 15 free downloadable “premium” games & apps from the Nokia Store; plus Nokia’s neat voice-guided self-portrait feature, which gets around the lack of a front-facing lens by helping users align a self-portrait when they can’t see the screen.
Nokia’s earlier Facebook-button-packing phone, the full Qwerty Asha 205, was announced in November last year. At the time, the company’s decision to introduce a phone with a dedicated Fb button revived a 2011 trend which, for the majority of last year, appeared to have run its course — without, apparently, covering any of the device maker particpants (including HTC, Orange and Vodafone) in huge heaps of gold.
Asked about sales of the Asha 205, Nokia said it has not broken out any numbers for the model but added that the number of Facebook activations for the device is “significantly higher” than for the average Asha family device. Whatever the sales figures, Nokia clearly believes there is more gold to be mined from low end mobiles by associating its hardware with the biggest brands of the social messaging space.
Asha vs Android: Show me the money
The Asha 210 — along with the entire Nokia Asha range — targets developing markets and cost-conscious consumers, which explains its focus on seeking ways to reduce not just the initial outlay but also the total cost of ownership, while simultaneously amping up its core social offering by making sure it can provide access to big name apps and allow for easy social photo-sharing, as Android does.
The Asha 210 will have a $ 72 price-tag (before taxes and subsidies). The price-tag puts it in touching distance of budget Androids and while the S40 platform is not as user friendly, flexible or as app-rich as Android, Nokia has been working to strength its competitiveness against Android’s low end with additions such as its cloud-based data-compressing Xpress Browser, which ekes out up to three times as much data as non-compression browsers to help keep the user’s data costs down, plus offers such as ‘Games Gift’ and the free WhatsApp subscription.
As with other Asha devices, the 210 also boasts a long battery life — of up to 46 days on standby, and around 12 hours talk time. Nokia noted that it is using push notification technology to reduce battery drain caused by the Asha 210 checking for WhatsApp/Facebook updates. Update checking is done by Nokia in the cloud, with any new info pushed out to the user’s phone when it arrives.
One more thing…
Nokia and WhatsApp are about to hold an online Q&A about the launch of the Asha 2010 so we’ll be checking for any interesting tidbits that come out of the discussion to add as an update below. Currently, around the world, there is still plenty of regional diversity across messaging and social services – messaging apps are especially fragmented. Many of these apps inevitably compete with and come into conflict with social networking giant Facebook, which wants to own all the world’s chatter. And with Facebook having just launched its app-sidelining Android skin, social challengers such as WhatsApp are likely to be keen to find ways to increase their own visibility on mobile. Having your brand stamped on the outside of a phone sounds like a great place to start.
Updates from the Q&A, with Nokia’s Broadley and Neeraj Arora, business development, at WhatsApp:
On whose idea the WhatsApp hard key was, Nokia’s or WhatsApp’s… Broadley: “We have an ongoing relationship with WhatsApp that spans a range of Nokia Asha and other Nokia products. We are both really excited about this opportunity.”
On whether the WhatsApp hard key will be exclusive to Nokia devices… Arora & Broadley: “We are very excited to bring a dedicated WhatsApp button to Asha 210 and we will take consumer feedback for future consideration.”
On whether Nokia will bundle WhatsApp’s software with all Asha devices… Broadley: “We already bundle WhatsApp with many Nokia Asha family devices and are working on extending it to as many Nokia phones as possible.”
On what evidence there is consumers want social messaging hard keys on phones, or whether they just want easy access to lots of apps & services… Broadley: “With the Nokia Asha 210 we’ve worked hard to give people the best of both worlds. People have access to a dedicated hardware button, preloaded social networks ready to go right out of the box, and access to the Nokia Store to download and install more.”
On WhatsApp’s support for dual SIM devices… Arora: “The launch of Asha 210 does signify WhatsApp’s availability on Dual SIM devices. We are working on extending it to other Dual SIM devices.”
On the differences between the Asha 210 and Nokia’s earlier Facebook button phone, the Asha 205… Arora & Broadley: “There is WhatsApp deep linking into social share gallery and there is more to come.”
On the Asha 210′s battery performance… Broadley: “We have a really high quality Nokia 1200 mAh battery in the Nokia Asha 210. The software really helps get great battery life — for example we have something called Nokia Notifications which works in the cloud to check for your social network updates, then pushes them to the phone. This stops the individual apps having to continually check for updates — saving battery.”
On Nokia’s approach to phone design… Broadley: ”Starting with the Nokia 206 announced just before Christmas we’ve been progressively uniting the Nokia portfolio under a single, coherent design language… We have one stunning design approach across the Nokia range.”
On whether Nokia could introduce a Lumia product with a physical Qwerty to differentiate its smartphones from rivals’… Broadley: “We don’t comment on future plans.”
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Feature phones don’t grace our web pages too typically, however when Nokia stated it had a brand-new Asha to show us, we thought we ‘d go check out. We’ve been following the Asha variety given that it launched a bit even more than a year ago, but we were also interested to see Nokia Slam in action, a new Bluetooth quick-sharing component with Android compatibility. There were no touchscreens in sight as we were introduced to the Asha 205– a Collection 40 QWERTY handset with a social angle aspired mainly at arising markets, but additionally at those who either don’t have the cash or the need for a top-of-the-range device. Bearing that in mind, we gave the phone a brief as soon as over, considering just what it does for approximately $ 62 (leaving out taxes, etc.), rather than what it lacks compared to smartphones at greater cost points. Throughout the meeting we additionally glanced over the Nokia 206, which shares many of the same functions but isn’t really component of the Asha family due to its numpad input (see the video and gallery for even more details). Head past the break for our thoughts on the Asha 205, and a demonstration of Nokia Slam in action.
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They’re not the most persuasive of units, but for smartphone first timers, they ought to do just fine. Formally revealed today, Nokia’s updating the Asha Touch line with the 308 and 309– 2 new members of the Collection 40 household that have actually moved past the function phone designation and into smartphone zone. Priced at an affordable $ 99 (off-contract), this twin – and single-SIM pair are near identical with 3-inch WQVGA displays, 2GB of microSD storage (extensible to 32GB) and a 1,110 mAh battery. We simply occurred to be onsite at the business’s HQ in Espoo for the disclose of the diminutive units, so follow on after the break for our very first impressions.
Gallery: Nokia Asha 308 and 309 hands-onContinue reading Hands-on with Nokia’s Asha 308 and 309 (video clip) Filed under: Cellular phones, MobileHands-on with Nokia’s Asha 308 and 309 (video recording) originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 25 Sep 2012 00:01:00 EDT. Please see our terms for usage of feeds. Permalink|| Email this|Comments
They’re not the most compelling of devices, but for smartphone first timers, they should do just fine. Officially announced today, Nokia’s updating the Asha Touch line with the 308 and 309 — two new members of the Series 40 family that’ve moved past the feature phone designation and into smartphone territory. Priced at an affordable $ 99 (off-contract), this dual- and single-SIM pair are near identical with 3-inch WQVGA displays, 2GB of microSD storage (expandable to 32GB) and a 1,110mAh battery. We just happened to be onsite at the company’s HQ in Espoo for the reveal of the diminutive devices, so follow on after the break for our first impressions.
Gallery: Nokia Asha 308 and 309 hands-on
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Nokia first introduced its Asha line of feature phones last October, and now it’s rolling out the new devices with touchscreen interfaces that we saw leaked manuals for recently. The Asha Touch device range includes the Asha 305, Asha 306 and Asha 311 phones that all have 3-inch screens and run the Asha Touch UI. They all also pack the Nokia Browser 2.0 and free games form EA. The 305 and 306 are WQVGA resistive touch screen devices, with 2MP cameras and GPRS/EDGE connectivity, while the 305 brings Nokia’s Easy Swap dual-SIM capability to bear and the 306 features WiFi. The 311 has a capacitive glass screen, HSPA modem, 1GHz CPU and 3.2MP camera. The Asha 305 is supposed to ship in Q2 for about $ 85 US, while the 306 and 311 are due in the third quarter for $ 93 and $ 121, respectively. Check the press release and videos after the break for a closer look at the phones and details on local availability.
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You know, Nokia wasn’t only revealing its first Windows Phone salvo — there was also a volley of series 40 handsets, with the Asha family. First up is the dual-SIM capable Nokia 200. The phone itself bears a strong resemblance to the C3-00, with a non-touchable screen and QWERTY keyboard, priced, pre-tax, at €60 (about $ 85). Nokia promises admirable battery-life and a rainbow of color choices.
Up next is the Nokia 300, pairing a 2.4-inch resistive touchscreen with a numbered keypad, with a long narrow frame very similar to last year’s Nokia C3, but now toting a 1GHz processor, five megapixel shooter and a €85 (about $ 120) bounty. Meanwhile, €115 (about $ 160) will net you the Nokia 303, which brings together both touchscreen and QWERTY input and rocks a 3.2 megapixel camera. While Nokia’s first Windows Phones remain the stars of the show, these sub-$ 200 prices and pre-2012 arrival will tempt residual Series 40 fans still out there. Skip on past the break for a brimful of Asha.
Gallery: Nokia Asha phones hands-on
Zach Honig contributed to this post.