Sun, Sands, Belle and NFC: The #NokiaNFC meet in Goa

The Folks at Nokia India had invited me and a bloggers from around India to the Nokia Costal Voyage (#NokiaNFC) event at Goa last week. The highlight of the event were the new handsets from Nokia powered by Symbian Belle, which are NFC ( Near Field Communication ) enabled. We all got a Belle device each to use for a day, and capture the sights and sounds of Goa. This gave us time with the devices and see how it coped up with the tasks of capturing and recording our experience, while we shared it through our Social Networks as well. The star of the event was of course the NFC capabilities of the phones, and more about it later in the post.

Symbian Belle is the latest version of the Symbian OS which powers the latest range of phones from Nokia. This  version of the OS is a huge improvement over the previous versions of Symbian, which brings in major usability and performance improvements to phones. The latest range of devices from Nokia running Symbian bell are the 600, 700 and 701 phones. Here’s a wrap of of what we experienced during this event.

Symbian Belle

Sorry but we couldn’t take live images of the phones, since the ones were using were prototype devices which are still running development versions of the OS. We’ll soon have some devices to review, so stay tuned.

Some of the highlights of Symbian Belle, are

  • The pull down notification window on phone, similar to what you see on Android devices, which gives you easy access to enable and disable connectivity options like data, bluetooth, wireless and profile. Also notifications from apps come up here. All you need to do is to swipe down the Notification Window from the top of the phone screen too access it.
  • Flattened application menu: Gone are the days of Nokia deciding what folders the app shortcuts fall under. Now when you access the menu button, you get a list of apps which you can scroll through. You can of course create your own folders to organize apps yourselves.
  • Better Home screen Widgets: Widgets have gotten smarter and more flexible in this version. You can drag and drop widgets anywhere on screen now, and there are interactive widgets as well.
  • Improvements in the keyboard layouts, browser and other areas as well.

NFC

Symbian Belle devices which we saw were NFC enabled, which mean they can interact with other NFC enabled devices by just tapping them together. Some of the accessories which we tried out were the Nokia BH-201 headset and the Nokia Play 360° speakers.

This is the coolest part of NFC enabled devices. When you have to pair your NFC enabled phone with any of these accessories, all you have to do is tap the two devices together and they’re automagically working together with no settings to do. The demo we saw was with the Nokia 701 playing music from the phone, and when it was tapped with the Nokia Play 360°, within a fraction of a second, the music continued playing from the speaker. Cool stuff!

When people think of NFC, the first thing which comes to mind is banking applications which use NFC for enabling payments, by the NFC technology can do so much more to make daily life easier. For example, if you open an image using the Photo Gallery, and tap another phone to yours. It automatically asks you if you want to share the image with the other phone, as easy as that. Contact sharing, and Social apps is another idea which comes to mind. In fact we were told that there’s a Symbian app in the making called Pokein, where you could add friends to your social network by just tapping with their phones. NFC is one area where the potentials are unlimited and it’s just the application developer’s ingenuity which would dictate what the next big app will be.

If you want to see how easy sharing is with NFC devices check out the demo on this post – NFC Sharing – As easy as Tapping two Devices.

Nokia 600,700 and the 701

Each of these devices are running on Symbian Belle, are NFC enabled and come with a 1Ghz processor. This combination along with the right price points should see good sales for Nokia for this range of devices.

The 600 is touted as the loudest phone because of it’s loud in built speakers, which packs a punch.  The 700 is a real sleek device, so it’s being marketed as the Smallest Smartphone. The 701, with it’s bright Clear Black glass screen is nicked named the brightest of the lot.

Even though these phones feature EDOF cameras (which I used to dislike), I was quite impressed with the quality of the snaps which the 701 churned out. Since I had the 701 with me the whole day, and was clicking away, I was pleasantly surprised with the images which came out of this phone, given the fact that I was just clicking away with the auto settings, and didn’t bother with specialized settings for any of the snaps. Here are some of the star images which I liked out of the lot (click on them for the larger images):

Impressed with the EDOF camera yet? Well, I certainly was. The 701 handled the different lighting conditions with ease. Send in your thoughts and comments.

In all, the #NokiaNFC meet was a really great event Nokia India put together for us bloggers. We got to play with these devices, meet and discuss with bloggers from around India, and most importantly, all this in the relaxed Goa spirit. Thanks Nokia India!

If you’re looking for a video of how easy sharing is with NFC devices, stay tuned for the next post.

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