Last week, Nokia released “Belle”, the latest (and long-awaited) version of its own mobile phone operating system (formerly known as Symbian). The user interface has been given an overhaul, and now looks rather more like Android—some have speculated mischievously that this is to prepare users for when they move to Android-based phones, once Nokia completes its move to Windows Phone!
Whilst I don’t mind the new UI, and there are positive aspects to Belle for me (e.g. it feels subjectively faster), I’m finding there are some annoying omissions—mainly, items which worked well in previous versions of the OS, but which for some reason have been omitted this time around.
The list is larger than I’d like—for instance, where is the old Notification homescreen widget, why can’t we have a clock/date widget which doesn’t take up a quarter of the screen, and how about a calendar widget which is as useful as the old one—but the omission which really “gets my goat”: the “Files” (file manager) application has been stripped of its WebDAV feature.
You can visit the above Wikipedia link if you want the technical stuff on WebDAV, but all you need to know about why I find its now-absence on my Nokia N8 is A Bad Thing is: the phone now has no built-in means to exchange files with our home server (a Synology NAS device—and no, Bluetooth doesn’t count here, as Synology NAS boxes don’t have BT built-in).
Think about it: Symbian has no FTP client (in the Nokia Store, though, inexplicably, there are two FTP servers—what??!), no NFS client, and a Windows file-sharing (SMB) client (MyExplorer) which you have to buy from the Nokia Store. OK, UKP3 isn’t that onerous, but that’s not the point—surely file exchange is basic functionality on a 2012 smartphone, and Nokia has just removed (without notification or consultation) the one free file-exchange mechanism which was present on Symbian phones “out of the box”.
I sincerely hope this is an oversight, and/or a temporary omission which will be restored in a future update. I don’t want to sound ungrateful about Belle—it’s a decent and much-needed OS update for Symbian phones—but the removal of the WebDAV feature is not the only item Nokia have excised from Belle without warning or consultation (as far as I know), and in the case of WebDAV at least, it was functionality I actually used regularly, for which there was no other alternative (without purchasing a third-party app), and which I can’t imagine that keeping it in the Files app was causing any problems.
So, Nokia, thanks for giving us Symbian users some eye-candy, but would it be too much to ask to give us back a little nutrition too? Thanks 🙂