Friday, December 18, 2009

Nokia Ovi: Epic Fail

I decided to download some new apps to my sorta-new Nokia E63 today. My normal approach for putting apps on my phones is to go out looking for open source apps on the web using one of my regular computers, then transfer it onto the phone via memory card or Bluetooth. Today, I made the mistake of deciding to try out Nokia's Ovi software service instead.

First I went out via Wifi on the phone itself. Initially, I had the "Download!" item on the phone as it came from the factory. Upon contacting Nokia I got a message telling me I needed to upgrade to the new Ovi software.

OK. I upgraded. Then I tried connecting to Ovi. I got a message telling me Ovi wasn't available. Wonderful. At that point I had no idea whether that meant I'd just happened to hit some time when site maintenance was going on, or if my new software was no good.

Later I was able to connect (two days later. I should have mentioned I didn't just start this process today...)

You can go along, looking at possible downloads at Ovi, but you can't download without an account. The advice I got was to create an account on my PC, then sync with the phone so that it could use that account to connect to Ovi. *sigh*

I went to the only PC I have that runs a current version of Windows as required by Nokia's sync software. I logged into Ovi and created my account. I downloaded the software (after fighting my way through Nokia's awful website--I'm sure the Flash crud works fine on Nokia's LAN, but on my broadband it takes forever and you can't even tell what it's doing then once it's downloaded you get an error more than half the time. And don't even try to connect to Nokia's website from one of their phones!)

I got the software downloaded while I left the house for errands, came back, installed it, and discovered that I had no data cable and that none of my present USB cables was the right one for this phone. My cheap, half-the-price Chinese phones came with data cables, Nokia! What's the matter, can't turn a profit without trying to milk your customers for an overpriced data cable? Not only that, my Windows system is the only one in the house without Bluetooth. I didn't feel like burning more time on a wasted effort by trying to find a driver for the dongle I've got, so after the website, download, and install I just gave up. I'll recover the hard disk space another day.

I went back to Ovi on the phone, and found that I could just log in directly. Then I selected that I wanted to see only free apps. Then I changed catagories. And it started showing me for-pay apps. When you change categories you then have to go back and choose to see just free apps again. And even if you do, if they've got a "featured" app that's for pay, it stays there at the top of your list.

Four pages of apps in, the stuff I was finding for free was garbage. Adware and crippleware, mostly. About what I expected, I'm afraid, and why I usually just go looking for free open source software right off the bat. I was hoping to find a few decent simple time-killer games, though. They may be there, but I can't find them among the cruft.

What a waste of time and effort.

Do yourself a favor, if you do end up with one of Nokia's phones, learn to install apps without going through Ovi if you don't already know how. It'll be time far better spent than doing what I did, and you'll still know how to do it when you get a different phone. Like a cool, inexpensive little Sciphone, maybe.

My Articles on cell phones: