Hello friends and folks, it's monday, a great day to continue our N9 FAQ series here's some additional informations and impressions about the beast from Michal Jerz
As I wrote in the "Performance" part, N9/N950's resources make them EXCEPTIONALLY good performers. 1 GB of RAM plays the most important role here. You can run LOTS of applications simultaneously, switch between them anytime, they continue normally running in the background like on the N900, and - due to the amount of operating memory - I couldn't see any noticeable impact on performance or UI smoothness even with multiple applications running. So yes, Harmattan devices remain as good (or better) 'multitaskers' as the N900.
The multitask screen (called task switcher on the N900, the one where you see thumbnails of all apps running) is always accessible "on the right side" of the current screen. So just swipe the current screen to the left and you get it. Like on the N900, it is enough to just tap on the thumbnail of app you want to switch to. Unlike on the N900, "X" symbols to close tasks aren't shown all the time - you need to tap and hold on an empty area of that screen to make them appear. Then you can close selected apps by tapping on their "X" buttons, or all apps at once using the "Close all" button shown at the bottom of the display.
One nice feature is that the multitask screen supports pinch-to-zoom. With a lot of apps running when their thumbnails don't fit on one screen and have to be scrolled, you can zoom out to reduce the size of the thumbnails and make them all fit. And vice versa - you can zoom in to make the thumbnails larger if e.g. small thumbnails are too tiny to identify which app is which, or if you want to see more details of what an app is currently doing (as I wrote, apps continue to normally run in the background rather than freeze, so contents of their displays may change even when they aren't in the foreground).
For a person who got used to being able to quickly close an app from that app itself on the N900, what's badly missing on the N950 at the moment is a "Close" button. On Harmattan, apps aren't supposed to have it.
Current builds of N9 firmware support a very nice feature to instantly close the current application - just "swipe it down" from the top of the display and it'll go away for good. Very nice and easy to use. Unfortunately, this feature isn't present in the current N950 software build, so at the moment the only way to close an app (that doesn't have own Quit/Exit button/menu item) is to use the multitask screen for that. Another way is to use Ctrl-Q keyboard shortcut, but that's only convenient if you have the keyboard open.
As I wrote earlier, another nice feature is the "Quick launch" function - swipe the current app a little bit (some 20%) up and hold it at this position about one second, and a bar with four icons (Phone, Web, Search, Camera) is shown at the bottom. These apps seem to be "hardcoded" at the moment and there seems to be no way to change them, so hopefully in final builds one will be able to choose the apps to appear there... Of course, without physical buttons for Phone and Camera most people will probably want Phone and Camera icons to remain there or else it'll always take getting to the app launcher (icon grid) to start them, but I guess that some people might like to change the two remaining ones...
The Calendar app supports multiple calendars and color coding. One calendar can be set as "default", each calendar can be quickly activated or disabled (there is a switch to either show or hide its entries and reminders).
In general, functionality seems to be the same as N900's Calendar app.
What I really like about the Contacts app are the following new (compared to N900) features:
- favourites: just tap the "Star" button in a contact's detailed view to make it favourite and it will always be shown on top of the Contacts list. This way you always get your favourite Contacts first, and then the remaining contacts sorted with the chosen method: alphabetically or by availability.
- automatic creation of thumbnails/avatars. If a contact doesn't have its photo/avatar, the Contacts app automatically shows an avatar for it consisting of that contacts initials (e.g. "AC" for Adam Cooper).
- quick scrolling. You can either slowly scroll the whole list of contacts, or (if you swipe over the grey bar on the right side showing the current letter) it will let you quickly scroll the initial letters. This way you can very quickly go to contacts starting from the chosen letter, e.g. "S" or "W". The whole alphabet can be scrolled through this way on one display, so it's really a very quick method of reaching ANY contact entry on the device.
- groups. The Contacts app supports Groups and lets you freely create as many of them as you wish. You can give groups custom names and avatars/images.
- individual ringtones. Finally, without having to use 3rd party apps for that, contacts can be given individual ringtones.
The only thing I'd like to change about Contacts is that the Search function (always shown at the top of screen) not only checks first name, last name, company etc. but also other fields, especially phone numbers. - Bluetooth / Car / Voice control
Hmmm.... is Nokia doing it again? There doesn't seem to be any PBAP or even IrMC support, at least in the current software build. So, shortly speaking, just like on the stock N900, while the N9/N950 correctly pairs with car kits and lets you receive calls, there is no easy way to make outgoing calls as contacts list cannot get synchronized with the car and so is unavailable. And there is no trace of voice recognition, even though some specifications say that it will be supported. So it looks the same as on the N900. Hopefully, it's just the current early software and these things will be supported in final release...