How to: Google Apps On Your Nokia E72 smartphone
Do you rely heavily on Google Search, Gmail, Google Calendar or Google Apps for Domains? Perhaps with a bit of Google Maps thrown in and YouTube for when you could use a little distraction?
Odds are you are a business user and seriously looking at buying a Google Android-based smartphone. I fit this profile myself and I bought the Nokia E72 business smartphone running Symbian S60v3 instead. Here's why.
Why you should consider the Nokia E72
First of all, I'll admit right away that I indeed bought myself a Google Android-based phone at first, the Acer Liquid running Android 1.6 (the mainstream version at the beginning of 2010). It was a compromise on my part: it didn't have the full QWERTY keyboard that I wanted, but it did have Google Android. I rely heavily on Gmail, I have several accounts that include Google Apps for Domains (Gmail on my own domain) and I needed an e-mail client that worked the Gmail way. Anything else is a bonus. If any platform is going to have that, it is the one made by Google itself.
Big dissapointment in many ways, it definitely felt like I had thrown away $350 on a bad phone, as I wouldn't have been able to live with its shortcomings for long. Lucky for me (as it turned out), in less than a week the phone got stuck in an unrecoverable reboot loop due to a software bug in Android and I had to return it.
From a limited number of choices, I had it swapped for the Nokia E72. Best accident ever.
Full QWERTY keyboard
The Nokia E72 does not have a touch screen, as is the norm today on almost every smartphone. It does have a full QWERTY keyboard, with keys optimally sized for comfort without making the phone awkwardly wide. I have large hands, yet the keyboard is so good that I don't accidentally hit the wrong keys at all, making writing an e-mail an easy, speedy & comfortable task.
On the Acer's touch screen typing was an exercise in frustration: it was slow, uncomfortable and relied heavily on text correction.
Bottom line: on a touch screen texting is bareable, but you won't want to write e-mails on it.
Not having a large touch screen has another major advantage: power usage. For business purposes, an iPhone or an Android-based phone simply won't make it through the working day on a full charge. The E72 however, can easily go 2 days on a full charge. Perhaps more, depending on how you use it.
Internet & Flash
While a large touch screen is clearly a better choice for browsing the internet, the E72 is still decently suitable for internet browsing. Its built-in browser is fully standards compliant and yes, it does support Flash as well. No drama on the E72. And if you don't like the built-in browser, there are several good alternatives as well, such as Opera Mobile (my favourite).
The E72 runs Symbian S60v3, which definitely looks a bit outdated compared to the iPhone and Android. Despite that, with a 60% market share it is still easily the largest mobile platform. There are not as many apps for it and the Ovi Store is not exactly a slick piece of software, but for any use you can think of for the phone, it is either pre-installed and ready to go or there's a handful of apps that can help you out.
Let's discuss the Google services first and then I'll list a few other ways in which the Nokia E72 can help you out.
Gmail & Google For Domains
When you purchase a Nokia E72, you get a free lifetime subscription to Nokia Messaging. This allows you to add several e-mail accounts, whether they are Gmail, Google For Domains mail, Exchange or any POP or IMAP account.
Unfortunately, in my experiences while it is easy to set up, it simply does not work reliably: it frequently would not notify me of incoming mail as promised and it is not real time either. Also, you need to store the username and password of all your accounts on the Nokia servers, which just does not sit comfortably with me.
Although it does not integrate as nicely with the Symbian home screen and its look-and-feel is not the best looking, I found Lonely Cat's ProfiMail to be just what the doctor ordered for my e-mail needs on the E72. For about $30 you get access to all your e-mail accounts. As Gmail (and Gmail through Google For Domains) is basically an IMAP mail account, you can easily access all mail stored in your account. E-mail you read on your mobile phone will be marked as read when you view it in your browser: sent or deleted mail is stored in your Gmail account. Starring is called flagging in ProfiMail, but works exactly the same way.
ProfiMail supports IMAP IDLE, which means it supports push mail: no need to manually (or automatically) check e-mail periodically, whenever a new message arrives you get an instant notification with a notification on the screen and the blinking optical navi light.
Google Calendar & Tasks
The Nokia E72 comes equipped out-of-the-box with a solid calendar application for your appointments and tasks. However, I rely on Google Calendar for this purpose already and I want to keep having access to my appointments that way as well.
Instead of accessing Google Calendar in the mobile browser on the Nokia E72, a much better choice would be to use the regular Calendar app and install a third-party syncing application to keep everything synced, no matter where you enter your appointments. I use GoogaSync for this purpose and it works really well. It syncs my appointments in the background, with the interval of my choosing and I never have had to worry about it again. It supports two-way syncing and multiple calendars as well. Unlike other similar services (that I found lacking in many ways), you pay a one-time fee only instead of a monthly subscription.
Due to limitations on Google's side, you cannot currently sync your tasks. You could create tasks in Nokia's built-in calendar app, but personally I find myself never using them anyway. Mostly I create appointments that may span several days or even weeks and of course, they are fully syncable as they are just regular appointments.
Google Maps, Google Voice & YouTube
The Nokia E72 comes with the free Ovi Maps, but if you prefer you could install the free Google Maps app as well, with support for sattellite (photo) view, traffic information and even Google Buzz (for the 3 people in the world that use it).
More than a novelty than a useful feature at this point, but Google Voice allows you to search the internet through voice recognition: you name it, it (theoratically) recognises what you are saying and it searches it for you, so you don't have to type your keywords yourself. I never use this personally and there is really no need either thanks to the excellent QWERTY keyboard.
We all need a break sometimes, so it is good to know that Google released a YouTube app for the Nokia E72. Flash is fully supported in the built-in browser as well, so you are not limited to YouTube for streaming video.
Other uses: Skype, navigation, tethering & camera
Recently, Skype released their free mobile app for the Nokia E72, and it has quickly become one of my favourites. It can do anything the desktop version can do: free calls with Skype-to-Skype, chat, cheap (international) calls with Skype-to-Phone and SMS text messaging.
One of the unique selling points of the Nokia E72 is its free Ovi Maps. In my view, Ovi Maps is not quite up-to-par compared to stand-alone navigation products such as Garmin or TomTom, but it is on your phone and therefore you are always carrying it with you, unlike your GPS. It also adds traffic information and can suggest a more optimal route to avoid traffic jams.
I frequently find myself using it when I am abroad, driving a rental car or even walking in unfamiliar territtory. The E72 is equipped with a compas, so combined with the GPS, if you are prone to getting lost... no more!
Unlike Google Maps, Ovi Maps allows you to pre-load maps of pretty much every country in the world to the microSD card in your phone. This means no hugely expensive roaming data costs.
Wifi & Tethering
Just like your laptop, the Nokia E72 can connect to wifi networks, so getting internet access on the go is a breeze. Should you find yourself without access to a wifi network, you could use your E72 for tethering. An application such as JoikuSpot turns your 3G mobile data connection into a wifi hotspot-on-the-go that you can use on your laptop. Both Apple and Google are very cautious in allowing this ability, but on your E72 it is no problem at all.
You won't find many business phones with as good a camera as the Nokia E72. Its 5 megapixel camera with flash makes very decent pictures indeed. Doing a bit of sight-seeing on your business trip definitely won't require a stand-alone camera.
You could definitely say the Nokia E72 ended up in my hands purely by chance: I had not considered it at all when I was on the lookout for a new smartphone. My Android-phone was a disaster: the touchscreen made typing an ordeal, the battery couldn't last a working day with normal business use, I couldn't read e-mail or use calendars from multiple accounts and the unrecoverable software crash ended things once and for all after less than a week.
The Nokia E72 looks great from the outside, a bit dated on the inside. It was a bit buggy at first too, but Nokia resolved this with several firmware upgrades.Today it is my trusty companion that is with me 24 hours a day. It checks 5 mail accounts, notifies me of new messages instantly, keeps track of all my appointments, makes sures I don't get lost wherever I am on the planet, is great for a quick read on the internet, a YouTube video or a bit of twittering, allows me to make cheap international calls through Skype, takes my snapshots and last but not least... wakes me up in the morning :)
For more information on the Nokia E72, you might also be interested in reading my other article: Overcoming The Nokia E72 Smartphone's Shortcomings.
Maybe you'll end up with a Blackberry, Google Android or Apple iPhone just the same, but don't do so without checking out the Nokia E72 as well. You won't regret you did.