Portrait QWERTY to Symbian^3-Gravity shows that what Symbian can do

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Its very easy to blame things and saying that Symbian is dead, but it takes genuine talent and vision to show that its not the technology, but its what you do with it. The transparent and split keypad design of Gravity that I was talking about in last post, finally arrives in Alpha stage and available for reviewing it, which stands for just another example that its not rocket science to fix the things.

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If you might have given such a regarded name like Gravity, then it becomes difficult to exceed the expectations from himself and it janole, who always came up to raise the bar. Let’s see, what he doing with Symbian this time ..


What special about this custom keyboard?

Not the very first time, when someone might have taken the task of creating a custom keyboard for some app only. If you are unable to recall, then let me remind you, you have seen the keypad of opera mobile.

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But when it comes to design something like so native yet so important then usually developers feel out of innovation. While it doesn’t look so in first glance, there are too many minor details that could go bad, when designing a keyboard, like right size of keys (see smaller and almost unusable Opera Keys) or no mention of word count in native Non-QWERTY keypad on Symbian^3 as of now at least. Not only that, but even most basic things that people always taken for granted, when get designed from ground up, the suddenly become a challenge.

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Though its only an Alpha build and still lots of things are missing here, but in the above screen shot, you find the following things special:

1. Transparent design, which don’t let you slip the context for which you were writing
2. A glossy touch in buttons and background behind them
3. Word count and that too in enough big fonts +1 from my side
4. An entire new, generic or Google map kind of Geo Tag sign, look more relevant than earlier now
5. Largest screen real state provided to the text in comparison to others
6. A big space bar in the middle of bottom
7. Send button on top means no accidental sending

Not sure that its the same split keypad design that I was assuming it to be in last post, but its sure look exactly, what I thought touch keypad must have looked like


What are the tricks with this keypad?

Well, the very first thing you will get comfortable with is gonna be the landscape mode due to bigger room and bigger keys, but for some strange reasons, the send button is missing here (obviously just got now).

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In the first build that was 1.32 6670, there was a little space remaining on the top, which you can’t really notice easily but could have taken advantage by sliding the finger upside and the tweet was posted. Though it was a annoyance too as caused many accidental tweets by me, when I was trying to adjust some words. Anyway, janole removed the option with second build that is 1.32 6671.

On pressing the close button, then tweet will go in draft mode and then you can use the same old send from there, though same wont be the case when you will be sharing some pics from images section means you have to go to portrait after typing there.

The geo tag get a blue color here, in place of green earlier, dark grey when selected and trying to get a lock, faded grey, when not opted. Though I have not figured out that what color does it take when get a network based lock only, which was orange in case of earlier gravity build. Still I guess Green and Orange were better.

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The up arrow icon in left side, works for caps lock and the double arrow in the right works for the backspace (though backspace doesn’t work like Swype for deleting whole world in once), but the most exciting thing is inside the second screenshot if you would have noticed the highlighted V letter. Yes! you guessed right, Janole has not only raised the bar by bringing the split keyboard kind of design, but also the multi-touch (at least for one option) to the keypad.

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You also find the special character support here, like the one shown in first screen shot that appears when you press and hold ‘P’ and similar with some other keys which might bring some variants.

P.S. Forgive for that annoying sign of connection failed due to poor connection at my place.

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Keeping the numeric keypad behind the press of bottom left button might be uncomfortable for people, who might have gotten much used to of Swype, but still I will call this a neat design.

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Reply/ Send/ Retweet buttons appearing in portrait mode only as of now. Though, if your retweet exceeds 140 character limit, then you wont be able to see the button, even if touching at the same place will still work for sending off the tweet.


What’s still pending and could be expected in final build?

Not sure that Janole took this task as just an addon to Gravity or really thought since start that how big it could be, but I am sure that initial responses might have given a clue that people really wanted an alternative of default layout. But when we look closer then the smoothness of the design is still without some very basic things.

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  1. There is no scroll bar kind of thing, which is not a big thing as whole of text box system on symbian is designed that way, but still it may cause problems sometimes like you can see in above screen shot. Last line is just unreadable and you have to go by guesses only. I wonder, if the same has been reason behind the fact that Janole never tried to implement twitlonger inside Gravity as that feature was asking for a scrollbar implementation and hence weight over UI. This has been corrected by @janole with version 6671.
  2. As of now, keyboard is not customizable. No vibration on keys or option to just disable it completely.
  3. Absence of arrow keys is sure a big pain provided there is no predictive mode as well.
  4. You can not select some portion of tweet to delete or copy, which come in contrary of the excitement due to availability of Ctrl + V option.
  5. When Janole is designing this keyboard taking Gravity in mind, then ‘@’ must have been prominent and easily accessible.
  6. As of now, it doesn’t look like Swype gonna integrated in it, while everyone will want so.

Besides, the above, there are something, which we kept on asking from Janole from quite a while like auto completion of names, which sure gonna be possible once the predictive tying and custom dictionary makes the way to here, which will be a toll over the performance as well. Not sure, if it would be an easy thing to do.

Here is the download link for the same Alpha Build of Gravity, give it a try and feel that its not the case that Symbian is dead, its the way its being handled by developers, who are probably confused in fragmentation.


So these are some of my observations and inputs about this Alpha build. Please comment, if you want some more or I missed something important here. Yours words will reach to Janole.

Awesomeness of Gravity continued – Transparent and split keyboard arrives

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When some says that the reason to stick with Symbian is people like @janole, then we really don’t get surprised because he is really the man, who is being called as One Man Army of Symbian. The only developer, who is still sustaining the lust of switching to iOS or Android and standing tall as the best mobile developers of the time.

You need strong reasons to sell your product, when there are hundreds of them are out there for free and janole definitely seems to knowing his job very well. We just seen a sneak peak from his side about the paradigm shifting split and transparent keyboard design for gravity.

It seems that the roots are from the same split keyboard design, which Forum Nokia people are discussing since recent and lovely part is, it working in qwerty mode, when used in portrait. Like always, Janole seems to be the quickest to adopt the same approach and we really should expect some great things from coming Symbian^3 updates too.

It is literally the same, as I was talking about in my post, Janole and other developers just need to bring swype integration in the same and a new era of touch input will begin.

Note: This is in development phase only, no beta or finished product came out to try yet, but knowing the way Janole works, we should really hope for a big update coming soon.

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Layman’s Take on Gravity – Big review of biggest twitter Client

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Do you know what is Gravity? If you are not part of the online social crowd of twitter that may know each other sometimes better than the family itself, then sure your answer might be something else, but if you know twitter then you know gravity more than the twitter itself. No matter, you are a Nokia user with Gravity installed or on some other platforms, who never got the taste of awesomeness of Gravity. That’s probably the height of brand name that stands higher than the service, higher than OS experience itself. That’s our Gravity- The best Twitter client of the planet.

 

The above is the preview poster that Janole, the creator of Gravity posted on his twitter profile for suggestions few days back. The poster displays the previews of interface in dark theme with brand new Image section and support for services like Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, Google Reader, Status.Net. Obviously, the best way to present the latest version 1.32 6601 was to showcase it with Nokia N8 itself (the best a Symbian can get till date).


I must tell you, writing review over something you been familiar since long might be much much tougher to start with sometimes. I remember my Nokia N82 review that was so obvious thing always with me in last few years and still no words over it. Same with Gravity, each of us know about, use every minute, but its so simple, so obvious that what to write, what left to be told like simple questions becomes tougher than revealing secrets behind some prototype.


Gravity: First released on March 30, 2009, Gravity started with a simple interface covering all the basic things about Twitter and with continuous positive feedbacks, grown to improve the experience better and better in just few months. With October 21, 2009, it started becoming your one point social communication client by inclusion of service like Google Reader and all of the services were always sharable to twitter. Though we miss things like pictures or videos in Gravity’s Google reader section, but still it stands as perhaps the best RSS client for Symbian and smaller screens.

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What makes an awesome UI? The Simplest Interface- Everything right there where you expected them to be and functioning much better than the expectation itself and The Performance- all of sudden, you stop blaming that your phone is under powered or cheap coz gravity does the same wonder, if you pick an old phone like Nokia N82 with me or a cheap Nokia C5 or faster non-touch like E72 or even touch screens like N97 or N8 (touch screen versions have kinetic scrolling as well).

What makes the performance special is the fact that it’s programmed in Symbian OS native code. In practice, this means that the developer can create a feature rich, slick and complicated UI and user interface, compared to a J2ME based application. More of it, it handles the internet connections pretty well though there are not options for controlling A-GPS settings that way, but hey!! you are talking about a twitter client here


Let’s try to introduce the awesomeness of Gravity with the readers, who don’t know about it yet (if really there are any)

Installation Mobile installation never been any headache like Windows or Linux ones, so the installation will go straight forward though you are required to allow all applications from the application settings by changing the default of signed only.

Usually the size of gravity been around 450-500 kbs, but with arrival of combined installer for all platforms, it has changed to a single 1.69 mb installer.

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Yes! you are always recommended to use the latest version of software and here you have the best reason for that. @janole has introduced the all re-designed super awesome image section since version 1.31 6575, I guess. The latest 1.32 6601 is supposed to be most stable, efficient and Symbian^3 supported version of gravity.

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Like most of the products, I don’t remember that gravity ever changed its icon, but the new version now greets you with much more behind the thumbnails of six images in image section as the limit of last few images only as was just one month back, has been removed now.

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First look and services Interface and UI is what keep Gravity apart and ahead of any twitter client in the world and even all other Symbian apps, you might have ever seen. If you check twitter and blogs then you will find really many advocating that Nokia should give @janole the charge of UI design section with Nokia as its Gravity specially, that one misses if moves out from Symbian world. That’s why, when I say that can an app could be bigger than the OS itself in fame? then no one think of any other name than Gravity.

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The very first screen greets you with five initial sections: Add Account, Go Online!, Twitter Search & Trends, Images and Info & Updates. As you can check in options->View, current screenshots shows Gravity running in Full screen mode, which really shows that how UI’s should be actually designed to take full potential of smaller 2.4” screens.

As you see, in Options->Tools, Gravity make full use of A-GPS for twitter geo-tagging and FourSquare and even you can utilized the Geo-Co-ordinates obtained from Gravity to send via SMS by copying on clipboard.

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The version 1.32 is sure a big mark about Gravity as not only it brings support for upcoming Symbian^3 (N8, C7 etc), but the services like Google reader is out of beta stage now.

More of it, as Gravity supported the OAuth from the start, so its surely not among those ones, who gonna be affected by twitter’s recent announcement about OAuth. I am also looking for videos using Gravity with recently arrived Swype, would be awesome experience for touch users.

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As @janole seems to have removed one of the services here, so now it remains with five services as shown in screenshot-Twitter, StatusNet, Facebook, Google Reader and Foursquare, but under the hood there are many more services as well.

Listing a few here ..

  • Is.gd as a URL Shortener for Google Reader links though I would like it if @janole brings options about this as well. What about adding options for bit.ly and goo.gl?
  • Flicker uploads are supported via image section, you can put your Flicker code in Image Section -> Settings. Same about Facebook posts, which are natively supported. Though you can’t choose the folder in which the image will go with any of them. I guess, we just missing Picasa here. Isn’t it?
  • The other image upload services are Yfrog, Img.ly, TwitPic, MobyPicture, Posterous and TwitGoo.
  • There is support for other link services ike Delicious, Instapaper, Read-it-Later and also Ping.fm support by simply sending “p message” or “p #group message”

Have I missed any other service?


Connection Handling The connectivity thing suddenly gets a new meaning, when we talk about any mobile client as it was simple with Desktop ones. I means it was enough to have a single internet connection in your PC to run any internet based app, but when you talk about mobiles, then WiFi, 3G, APN and Wap like many things start circling in your mind.

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With the inbuilt Zlib compression option, though it may be the case, you wont mind running on lower connections, but at time, when you are going to open some heavy link, then sure you think if you would have started with the higher speed connection. Don’t worry, here you love the connection handling of Gravity with Open and Choose APN option

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As you seen in screenshot, you can always choose Auto-Connect to any Access Point and Auto-Fallback to WLAN for the simplest of configuration.


Twitter Gravity might not be supporting the option to make a twitter account from the client itself like Ovi tools support, but rest everything seems to be under full control of gravity and that’s most efficient and beautiful way possible for Symbian Clients.

If you already have checked out many twitter clients, then you really know that why people choose to buy Gravity even if there are many other free apps available for twitter and even the mobile sites like dabr.co.uk, itweet.net or twitter’s own mobile site itself.

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The first twitter screen go just in simplest way, lists your timeline, twitter handles of people, how much time back the tweet was and from which client they tweeted. in non-touch phones, for a few it might be confusing in start that where to type, but you just fall in love by the first sight when you just start typing and the type pad appears with GPS icon in left top and count being shown on right top. Once, you finished with your post, you just need to hit the update button.

With GPS icon, you need to press the up key while keeping the cursor at very first place and it tries to get the Geo-Location if haven’t already got. Green means it has locked the location and orange means it got the nearest tower but not the satellites.

Not only that if your tweet failed or if you pressed Close in place of update for some reasons, then it goes to Drafts section of gravity and yes!! it supports multiple drafts (didn’t check how many). Cool na??

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As you can see, there are nine tabs, you can navigate in smoothest manner possible and covers almost all whatever you thought that a client could have done.

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Not only that you can view yours and others profile in Gravity in the above manner, but you can also check for the profile picture, Lists and link if they would have given in their profile text. Just perfect…

You already seen that there is a section of Twitter Search and Trends, you can configure as many searches there and Gravity handles them in tabs.

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Not only that, but you can see that how many options you get by pressing over any tweet depending on the nature of tweet and the text inside that.

We have Reply, RT, +/-FAV, Reply-To-All, FWD, DELETE, Map/ Nearby and >> symbol for following up the conversations in other tab. The same interface goes with gravity everywhere, either it be following from someone profile or Facebook or Foursquare. Its same everywhere, click on the status and get the options whatever might be possible as per the text.

Not only that but you also have option of forwarding tweets on SMS or even by Email. Did you knew that?

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Facebook The facebook section of Gravity is kind of very limited now. You can check out updates on your wall, the news feeds and also could update, comment, like or forward the updates.

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You can see that the options are pretty basic here, but still sufficient for status updates and catching up with your friends.

There are issues like you can’t watch the full pics that easily, you do on twitter or if you wanted to watch some video then it downloads that first. No list of friends or birthday updates, neither can you view the profiles of others or browse their photos.

Its a due over @janole since long and he has promised up to come up with a complete Facebook section very soon. We are very much looking for that @janole.


Google Reader Perhaps no one would have expected that such a small client could have handled a thing like RSS Reader that well without going through the browser way and this is exactly what we call as brilliance.

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And that’s not the all, but there are other handy options like +/- FAV, Read, Keep Unread, Mark as Read, Share, Tweet and URL. You can set that which feeds should be loaded (default is Unread Items only) and can decide the fetch time. Tweet option uses the link shortener Is.gd by default and URL opens the link in the browser, if one wishes so.

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Though I could very well understand the reason, but the only thing remains in this section is images/ video and options to create folders, subscribe or unsubscribe. But Gravity was targeted to be an efficient RSS reader not the complete handler, isn’t?


Foursquare Not much to say about as I am new to Foursquare, thanks to Gravity that I joined this service, otherwise would never have joined as there was no foursquare apps before for my N82 or may be I wasn’t trying that harder.

Scr000111A nice view, plenty of options, controlled sharing with Facebook or Twitter, what else you want from a Foursquare client?


Images Section Here comes the recent and most noticeable addition to gravity with the latest version. A complete redesigned, beautiful and much more capable Image section.

Scr000080The new image section not only supports much more number of pics from your smartphone memory, but there are plenty of options for sharing as well.

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You can now upload a pics to some service (like Yfrog, Img.ly, TwitPic, MobyPicture, Posterous, TwitGoo or Flicker) without even tweeting the same activity and you could make use of generated URL in your tweet later on by copying it on clipboard.

You can choose the quality of pics to be uploaded like Medium, Low or Original.

And the recent version also have added the option to upload the pics to Facebook (though it shows on the wall as well, may be some option in facebook settings to hide that) and also option to update the twitter profile pics, like I recently did.


Purchase and Price Yes! Its not a free app, but comes for a price around Rs. 500/-, but hey!! isn’t this much amount you spend on any ordinary weekend?

Gravity is licensed per IMEI. When purchased from share*it! or fastspring, you do not need to enter the IMEI during the order process! You can conveniently register your IMEI after the purchase has been completed through our self-service portal.

If you experience any problems during or after the order process, please immediately contact us viainfo@mobileways.de and we will help resolving the issue as fast as possible. If you do not receive your software or your registration code, please immediately contact: info@mobileways.de!

And yes! you can have rebate on multiple copies as well. Please send Mobileways.de a request for a bulk rebate to info@mobileways.de if you are planning to order more than 3 copies.


While my review was based on non-touch Nokia N82, enjoy the following videos about Gravity on touch interface ..

Via FoneArena

Via TheNokiaBlog

 

Beautiful and cool, isn’t it?


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What makes this app more worth is the creator @janole itself, who is probably most accessible developer  celebrity on twitter. you drop something about Gravity on twitter and its almost 60% likely that he will respond (he is human after all, can’t make it 100%). Not only respond, but he keeps on working over Gravity again and again to sort out issues anyone reports to him.

Do you know that much of the image section was designed by him, when he was in hospital on bed? That’s call dedication and humbleness.

So, this is plenty much about the Gravity. A review in tribute to the best mobile Apps I would have came across. Please comment, if you wanted to add some more in it.

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