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The release of the new firmware update for the Nokia N8 has got me thinking about firmware versions and how Nokia provides this service. Has Nokia improved its service in this area or is it still all just jargon to the average user? Hit the jump for my thoughts and please feel free to share yours.

Since the updated Symbian S60 3rd Edition hit FP2 (Feature Pack 2), many Nokia users were eager to receive an update for their FP1 (Feature Pack 1) device. Although initial speculation suggested that this update may become available for these devices, we later saw that no such support was provided, and in order to experience the updated features and enhanced UI, users were required to upgrade their device, which meant spending more money.

Later came the introduction of Nokia’s touch sensitive UI, Symbian S60 5th Edition – which also mirrored the non-touch predicament. The Nokia N97 received the hugely over-hyped 2.0 Firmware which again was not available for other S60 5th Edition devices, and lead to many complaints and dismay from those committed Nokia fans who jumped on the initial touch device Nokia offered, the Nokia 5800 XM.

In terms of the way an update is delivered, before we were stranded unless we had a PC near by, as all handsets were only able to update via the Nokia Software Updater. However Nokia slowly rolled out its FOTA (Firmware Over The Air) service with newer handsets, which meant users could update on the go, without the need of plugging their device into a PC. What this also brought with it was UDP (User Data Preservation), which was a huge step forward and meant that users could download and install the latest firmware, without having to manually back up all their apps and go through each and every setting on the device to set it back to the way they previously had them, which many had to do as the back-up utility on the Nokia PC Suite wasn’t as reliable.

Also with this change, we’ve seen an increase in the frequency of firmware updates for all Nokia handsets, and the newer devices seam to be getting similar updates at near enough the same time. However is this improvement enough or can Nokia still improve further?

I believe there’s always scope for improvement and with the issue experienced by early Nokia owners, I believe Nokia need to change their entire approach. So here’s a few suggestions that I believe will help make this service more simpler and a lot more user friendly, as well as giving back more to those who’ve invested already in Nokia handsets.

Firstly Nokia need to make firmwares universal for operating system’s rather that devices. Like I mentioned, similar devices from a similar age group tend to receive firmware updates at the same time. This is my fear when it comes to the Nokia N8. Will the next batch of Symbian^3 devices receive features and UI improvements that will not be ported to the N8? In my view, Apple seem to have got it right in this area, as when they release updates for the iOS, not only is the latest iPhone compatible with it, but even those who still use the first iPhone can enjoy most of the features and UI enhancements. Some may argue that the first iPhone can’t do this, or the iPhone 4 can do this, but the fact of the matter is that its a universal service that is easy to grasp, and doesn’t leave the older customers stranded.

So how can Nokia adopt a similar stance? For starters is there really a need to roll out a firmware which has a number longer than those mentioned in the name of  the device itself? Yes, the firmware may have reached v12.345.678 or so, but why not release the firmware as v12.4 instead? It’s not like the numbers are ever going to run out. Also why not keep each OS on the same firmware? Symbian^3 can start at Firmware 1.0, and the new update could be renamed to 1.1. Then, when the Nokia E7 is finally released, make sure it has the latest Symbian^3 OS of its time upon release. So for example if the Nokia N8 has reached firmware version 1.9 by then, then release the Nokia E7 with this same firmware version.

Adopting this strategy will not only make it easier to understand, but it will also allow Nokia to make a big deal upon the release of a newer firmware, as all devices will receive the new features and it will make for an exciting day for everyone. Because let’s face it, a firmware update is a very important aspect of maintaining a good working device, and can drastically change the user experience for the good. In some cases users have mentioned that they felt as though they’ve been gifted a brand new handset, by simply updating their device to find new features and UI enhancements.

What do you think? Maybe you’re happy with the way things are going. Or maybe you have other ideas you believe Nokia could use to enhance this service offering. Share your thoughts, suggestions and opinions in the comments below.

Read More | Firmware Updates | Nokia N8 | Symbian^3

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