We need to act quickly.
I know finding good apps is difficult, and I’ll explain what I think must be the reason for this.
The Nokia Store is flooded with poorly thought Java, adware, scam, fake apps and the broken search function makes everything even more difficult. No new Symbian content being published should work to our advantage, as we now know that every updated version has had the time to be approved to the Store. The problem is that all those apps we’re looking for are still being buried under loads of Asha apps (at least until March 2015). What a terrible decision was to mix the content for different platforms in a single Store! Also, there is that kind of developers that just want to hit a large number of downloads, so they create useless apps for wallpapers, clocks, obscure site feeds, sexy whatever, ebooks, music lyrics. These are killing people’s time and money. They simply don’t stop, some developers just want that number of downloads, and they will achieve that by issuing a large quantity of content, which is, however, of poor quality. Oh, no! Apps aren’t the only place where this happens: this reminds me of YouTube and desperate vloggers who want lots of subscribers and views. My rant aside, these are factors that make the project difficult.
Even though this is a mass archiving project, it must be well organised in order not to leave us with a massive folder of amalgamated apps, with no names and no addresses. We must still preserve the developer’s name and contact.
I’ll now try to provide some of my techniques for overcoming these problems, and also explain how I look for apps.
Part one: Finding apps and developers
First of all and also the most time-consuming method: Screenshot app running in the background, I open the Nokia Store on the phone, head to Applications, then Utilities and carefully keep scrolling down without looking at the phone, while doing something else. Once the bottom of the list is reached, I slowly scroll upwards and look at the name and icon of each app, tapping on the ones I assume are new and designed for Belle. If I find something good (I also read the recent reviews to make sure the app still works/ doesn’t have ads), I take a screenshot, then press back to return to the list I’ve previously loaded. I have to be careful when I do this, so that I don’t accidentally press twice the button and hence lose that list. Then, I just look for the next app and take screenshots, so that I can later look up the developer and the app on the computer.
You can do this with other sections (Maps, City Guides, Music, Photo) as well, but usually I place my hopes on that category. If I don’t get mad and close the phone and curse a bit after seeing so many useless things, I move on to Reference.
To search the Nokia Store on a desktop, use Google! Type in site:store.ovi.com, add a space, then write a key word.
Another method of finding apps while on the computer is to look through directories and blogs, old collections of apps, forums or other sites.
I use the Internet Archives to look through Ovi App Blog (it was closed down) and see recommended apps, but it is a tedious task, as there are holes in the archive and I often run into dead ends. Here are my bookmarks: Ovi App Blog- photo apps 2011 04/ 2012 03 27 save/ Ovi’s App Blog search/ 2011 04 24/ 2012 03 feed. I really wish there was a way to find its most recent saved state and a list of all the posts from then. They had a Twitter account, it seems. I’ve long ago archived apps and games I found on Nokia Projects. There also was symbiantweet (now called The Pocket Tech), but I’ve already looked at (pretty much all of) their posts under “Symbian”. This is just an example. There are other blogs that have written about Nokia: Nokia Mobile Blog, Nokia Experts, Only Fools and Mobiles ,The Application Review, Pocket-lint, Nokia Power User, Know Your Mobile. We should look for apps here because they’re probably good, as someone took their time to review them. However, some don’t work anymore, or their services have been discontinued, so don’t download something that won’t work.
And here’s a tip for browsing faster through blogs: find their RSS feed, this will provide a compact list of the posts.
Oh, yes, there also was a webseries called Lady Geek TV, I went through some of the episodes, but haven’t seen all.
On the developer site, there is a list of apps that are on Meego, Symbian and both. Since the platforms use Qt, projects are usually easily compiled for either of them. That means we can ask nicely Meego developers to create a Symbian version of their apps or release the source code for other developers to play with. I haven’t looked at every app on the list.
Part two: Looking for the developer on analytics sites to find even more apps
When I discover a developer on the Nokia Store, there are chances some apps aren’t displayed for my device, athough the phone may support them (due to Nokia Store’s wacky algorithms), so, to make sure I don’t miss anything, I go to Distimo, where I can see all the apps published by a developer. I’ve bookmarked that page (Nokia/Microsoft Mobile) so that I can easily change the address and go to another developer’s page. Spaces in the name of the developer usually translate in a hyphen in the link. You can also search for an app or a developer on Distimo. I then open most apps in tabs and look through them, find out which are free, paid, consider if the app has recently been released for free and the page hasn’t updated yet, and close them as I go. Some are even listed as “removed”, which means the developer deleted the app from the store.
Part three: Storing the apps offline
I download the apps I find on the Nokia Store on my computer (if you don’t know how, read here). The extension for a Sybmian app can be .sis, .sisx, .wgz and can sometimes have a second .dm extension (which means it’s protected). Yes, our phones support Java (.jad, .jar), but I try to avoid these, as very few are well designed and have the right resolution.
If you want to help, please don’t change the name of the downloaded installer. They have to be kept as they are to avoid confusions and, after all, respect the developer’s work.
Also, save somehow in a file/screenshot/with the Internet Archives the description of the app, the category it is in, the developer‘s name and contacts.
Create your collection or find out which files haven’t been added to my archive and write in the comments if you want to bring in some new apps, I can then contact you via email and then let you upload them yourself, and I’ll add them later to the database.
Tools I use: Bookmarks. These are so useful, I can’t imagine a browser without them. I have a folder of bookmarks called “Apps”: if I come across an app that’s great, I immediately bookmark it, whether I’m on Opera Mobile, Firefox or another device (I then use Saved.io and get them later). Here is a collection of all the bookmarks I have for Nokia Apps, in .html format. You can import these into most browsers and it won’t affect your current bookmarks. If you use it, please also archive the Nokia Store pages you visit using the Internet Archive (see the bottom of the page, right side, to make a snapshot), so that we can keep the contacts. An easier way is to use another archiving service, archive.today, which provides an easy to use bookmarklet.
Email. I need to contact developers before posting their file somewhere else they didn’t know about. This way, they can find download counts and retrieve other statistics from me if they please to. Writing to them is also a good opportunity to let them know about the new store, AppList (more about it here).
My bookmarks of unsaved apps on Nokia Store
My spreadsheet of already saved apps and games – if you can help me fill details in, please do!
The first post about the project, which says what kind of apps are needed
Timing is important. Anything will help: even spending 5 minutes during a break looking for apps will. I really can’t do this on my own, this project needs help or else it won’t work.
And Happy Holidays!