J2ME on the 6600

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Introduction

When you first look at the Nokia 6600, the first reaction is very predictable. wow! It is truely a good looking phone. A stunner. Let's find out if there's more to this phone than just good looks.

The 6600 is one of the first phones to be based on version 2.0 of the series 60 developer platform. Even a few months after it's release, it's still among the small number of phones that include MIDP 2.0 and the MMAPI. Most of the other phones in circulation today only support MIDP 1.0 and does not contain the MMAPI. But creating applications for this device is another matter altogether with plenty of pitfalls for the unwary littering the path to success.

When you start using the phone, after a while you feel it is a little bulky. (The 6600 has to accomodate the 176X208 pixel screen. The series 60 specification also says the phone can be used with only one thumb. I found that by akwardly twisting my thumb into all sorts of akward angles I could indeed use it that way. The lense is position in such a way to ensure that it will be scratched with in days.

The browser on this phone is geared to make full use of the large screen. It is not the WML/HDML/CHTML or some other blandML browser that you find in most hand helds, it's a wonderfull feature rich XHTML browser. What really suprised me was that among the sites that I visited quite a few sites were not in XHMTL but HTML! If you have a flexible thumb the joystick makes it really easy to scroll down for lengthy web pages.

Getting Started

Visiting Forum Nokia and downloading the Series 60 MIDP SDK might seem a good way of getting started. Unfortunately this SDK is next to useless when developing for the 6600. You can't help feeling that deploying and running the midlet from the device is faster than waiting for the emulator to start up. When it does start up you find that it's extremely buggy and midlets what work on the sun WTK 2.1 do not work on the emulator.

Judging by the number of questions in different message boards, the act of deploying your midlet on this phone itself is a challenge. The solution though is simple when you finally stumble on it. You need to transfer both the jar and the jad file and install the jad file. The best way of transfering the file would be using bluetooth. Using IR on many nokia phones is a painfull affair because the phone automatically disables IR after a few moments of inactivity.

Even when using bluetooth you have to click at least four times to get your applicatio installed and then you have to go back up to the menu and dig up your midlet. Since all the midlets in a particular midlet suite are added onto the main menu finding the right item can become quite a problem as you install more and more software.

On more than one occaision, the phone stopped responding while installing MIDlets or running them. Sometimes even the power button failed to electrify the system again and the only remedy was to unplug the battery.

 

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