The latest firmware for the Nokia N95 offers many new features and much better memory management, and is free to download - but it also takes away the tracking feature from Nokia Maps, which the company now claims was a limited-time promotional offer.
The ability to track your current position is a fairly basic function of GPS software, a "you are here" indicator which updates as you move along a plotted route; such a feature used to be present on the free Nokia Maps application. But after upgrading the firmware that feature has vanished, and those contacting Nokia to complain are being told that they'll have to upgrade to the premium version of the application to re-enable the feature.
Since Nokia started allowing customers to upgrade handset firmware themselves the facility has generally been welcomed, fixing numerous bugs and rewarding early adopters with greater stability and new features. However, the process also gives Nokia the opportunity to remove features which were previously free.
There are, of course, plenty of alternative GPS software packages available for the N95, but the idea that Nokia can change things without warning has got some users worried about what feature they might decide to make "premium" next.
Upgrading firmware on a Nokia is always a tortuous process. Installing version 2 on our N95 here in the office resulted in a third of the installed applications disappearing, another third remaining but unable to run, and only the remaining third unaffected. Still, this is a distinct improvement on last time, when several applications required new activation keys.
Nokia would like users to look at their mobile phone as a desktop-equivalent, but even Microsoft would balk at removing without warning a feature through Windows Update, and then offering that same feature as a product. There may not be many users complaining about the removal of tracking from Nokia Maps - it's a little-used feature - but the concept of features being removed without warning is something that should worry every smartphone user. ®
It's been pointed out that it is the "Tracking" feature which has been removed, when a route has been plotted, rather than the basic "you are here" function. See the comments for a fuller explanation from our readers, though we're still waiting to hear what Nokia has to say on the matter.