Mobileways have released the first alpha version of Gravity (v1.5 – Build 6685, the article has been updated for the changes of the newest alpha build 6691) for testing purposes only. There are plenty of new features coming on 1.50 and we wanted to demonstrate them. This is not a review as we want to be fair to Mobileways and not publish a review on an unfinished product. Instead we wanted to showcase all the new features of version 1.50 and also provide our feedback so that Gravity can become even better. We plan to do a full review when the final version is out and we will cover every single feature through our exhaustive tests.

The increasing number of builds made the article huge. We created the above table for easier navigation. Just click on the build you are interested.
You should consider visiting Nitish Kumar's Blog as he is really fast in providing feedback updates for Gravity with in depth analysis of the new features. We highly recommend it.

Intro

For all the newcomers, introducing Gravity is simple. With three words, AMAZING SOCIAL APP. Maybe the best designed twitter client we have ever used. Or better say the best designed app we have ever seen on Symbian. It's no coincidence that it has been voted one of the top 5 mobile apps in the Mashable Awards 2010 (and we still have to wait for the final results to see if it is the best app of the top five). What is more interesting is that the application has evolved from just a twitter client to a social centric app with support for the most popular social networking services

First Alpha release

(19/12/2010 - Build 6685)

We had one compaint on the previous versions of gravity and that was the really basic support for facebook. On this new version, facebook's support has been highly upgraded with messaging being one of the additions as well as better profile viewing. We have been informed that the current changes are in a really early stage but we really liked them and we hope to see the facebook part of the app evolve the same way the other services evolved in previous versions of Gravity. You can click on the photos below to see the changes in detail.

Another feature that we've seen on previous Symbian^3 builts was a brand new on-screen qwerty keyboard. On this new alpha version the keyboard is now implemented in the S60v5 version too. In order to use it we just have to enable Fullscreen. We really liked this addition and the ease of use of the keyboard but we'd love to see a way for the keyboard to be used outside the program on other 3rd party applications, just like swype. There are also some visual bugs but they were expected on this alpha release.

Another addition for the S60v5 device owners is the redesigned User Interface to match that of Symbian^3. Really helps in taking advantage of the whole screen.

All the above additions and graphical changes are disabled if you are not in full screen mode and that includes the on-screen keyboard. The old User Interface is still there for anyone who prefers it the old way.

Some older changes and additions we have seen on previous beta builds are still here like the ability to go on top by pressing on the top of the screen when on Fullscreen mode or the superb gallery where we can see all our photos and post/upload them. We also have some minor changes like the visual change of the notifications when connecting/posting etc.

We haven't noticed any changes on the rest of Gravity's features. Foursquare,StatusNet and Google reader support seems the same as before and we don't know what else we could ask for Foursquare although we'd love to see some picture support on Google reader. We also still have only two themes and maybe that's one thing that can be changed with at least an option to follow the system skin if not some more colour choices other than dark and light

During our tests we've noticed a few bugs and we only share them for them to get fixed by the time the final version is released. All of them were expected from an alpha release and to say the truth we were really surprised by the stability of the application as an alpha version. One of the most obvious bugs that we already mentioned above is with the built in on-screen keyboard where the top part of it seems to be hidden behind the text entry box. There were a few times where the box was not disappearing after hitting close.We also expect to see an implementation in the final release that will disable the on-screen keyboard when typing with a hardware keyboard like that of the N97/Vivaz Pro or the soon to come E7. (the striked-through bugs were fixed on 6691 build)- We also noticed that when disabling the full-screen option we couldn't post a new tweet or content as the New button was disabled until we pressed one of the other buttons to enable it.Also some optimisations that will lead in less memory usage will be very welcomed as the app is now using almost 7-10MB of RAM

Our verdict for the future of Gravity? We don't know what else to expect from an already great product. We really can't wait for the final version to come and test everything and we already know it will be a nightmare in finding flaws on it. We just hope other developers take Gravity as an example when developing Symbian Applications. We still can't understand why Nokia hasn't licensed Gravity for all their new Symbian^3 devices and insists on the really slow and basic social app

Small Update
(20/12/2010)

The changelog has just been uploaded on Mobileways website. For a complete list of all the changes as well as a download link of the alpha version please read the official announcement. We will update this post with some further suggestions on what we want to see on the next version of Gravity, so stay tuned

Build 6691

(20/01/2011)

Build 6691 has been released and its not just a simple bug fixing release. There are plenty of new features that transforms Gravity to the ultimate tool. But we'll begin with a few features that were present on the previous build.

Drafts: We have seen that feature on previous builds. Gravity will save any tweet you might right and later instead of posting it just cancel. The tweets are saved on the Drafts folder. But other than that it will also save on this folder all the tweets that are not posted cause there was either a connection problem or no internet connection available! These tweets will be automatically uploaded when gravity gets internet connectivity again!

Facebook: Facebook has a few modifications since the last build. Messages and comments are now presented in a chat/conversation like way and you now also get notifications of them just like twitter's Direct Messages.

Splitscreen for S^3: In case you prefer using your built in keyboard instead of Gravity's brand new and shiny we have some good news for you. This new built brings a split screen method so you can type with the Symbian^3 classic numeric or even the qwerty keyboard and still viewing Gravity's screen. And we thought this was a feature to be seen on a coming update of the OS. Well done Jan Ole Suhr!

Built in on screen keyboard: We have seen it on the previous build but and now it got better. The visual bugs are now fixed and also the keyboard automatically hides on devices like the N97 when you open the hardware qwerty keyboard

Built in Browser: That's a killer option we didn't expect to see and one of the most useful. Jan Ole Suhr went one step beyond usual programming and took a look at Symbian's Source code. He then took advantage of some core features of the OS and developed a basic built in web browser to view any links on your tweeter/facebook/google reader, without opening another application like Opera or Symbian's browser.

There a few bugs on the current state of Gravity as there a few links not been able to be viewed while others may even crash Gravity. Even our website seems to give a hard time to Gravity so don't see this feature as a full web browser but rather a quick way to view the links posted on our social networks.

New URL shortening method: For all the link sharing needs Gravity now supports auto shortening your links for use in twitter through j.mp. We haven't seen any option to choose the shortening service to be used unfortunately but j.mp seems to do a great job

Note:The on screen keyboard (for obvious reasons) as well as the built in browser are only available to the Symbian^1 (S60v5) and Symbian^3 ports

Lastly but not least, Gravity will now save the most recent 5 previewed images or maps.

[div class="download" class2="typo-icon"]You can get build (6691) (already passed the 1500 downloads in less than 12 hours from its release) from <a href="http://mobileways.de/DBG6691gravity.ALL.sisx">here. In case you are using an older Symbian non touch device you can consider downloading the file over here which only contains the S60v3 port of the app.[/div]

Build 6693

(26/01/2011)

Build 6693 brings mostly bug fixes.The facebook message icon bug as well as the image previewing (TwitPic's, MobyPic's, etc) capabilities that were broken on the last build are now fixed and working properly. The new version also fixes a few S60v3 bugs and facebook specific bugs. Plenty of performance optimisations also make it faster than the previous build and we also noticed that the built in browser uses less RAM now but after a few hours of use it still goes up to almost 20MB.

We also have 2 new features. You can now keep your draft messages saved even if you send them by making them sticky. Also there is an option to force gravity use the phone's input method instead of its built-in qwerty keyboard on S60v5 and Symbian^3 devices. Just press and hold the edit button for the menu to pop-up.

The new build is much more stable. We haven't experienced any crashes yet. We recomend you to update especially if you use the previous build.

[div class="download" class2="typo-icon"]You can get build 6693 universal sis installation file from <a href="http://mobileways.de/DBG6693gravity.ALL.sisx">here. In case you have problems installing it on your S60v5 device there is a dedicated sis file here[/div]

Build 6695

There was a minor update with only a few bugfixes. This version was not widely known and was only available to those who had problems with build 6693. It was meant to fix the facebook message bug but unfortunately the messages stayed unread till you read them on facebook page.

Build 6698

(18/02/2011)

The new 6698 build brings push notifications for messages and replies on Gravity for the first time. The push notifications deliver all the replies and Direct Messages to your phone immediately. There is no need for Gravity to check for them on specific intervals as the messages will be delivered automatically through the twitter API. We haven't tested it thoroughly yet to aprove but we believe this will reduce battery consumption. In order to enable push notifications just enter your twitter account on gravity and select Options->Account Settings-> Push(User Streams). You can also have it enabled only when you are connected through WiFi and so have better control on your billings. When the push notifications are enabled a "!" will be shown on top next to the time indicator. As this is a beta version we are advised to use it only on one account, although it is working without problems on multiple accounts.

We also now have universal pop up notifications for Symbian^3 and S60v5 devices (it will be implemented for S60v3 devices on a later build)! This way we can preview our messages/replies even when we are not using Gravity and doing other things. It's a really great feature that makes twitting more efficient. This feature is also compatible with Symbian^3 built in screensaver and the beta version of Nokia Bubbles. We also tested it on C6's Swipe to unlock screensaver and its working nice but with a few glitches (It also works on other S60v5 phones with a cooked formware containing C6 swype to unlock).

We hope to see those features coming for facebook too in a future release

There are also a few bug fixes including the infamous facebook message notification bug that made your new messages remain unread. Gravity now seems to be running faster with no hang-ups.

[div class="download" class2="typo-icon"]Get build 6698 universal sis installation file from <a href="http://mobileways.de/DBG6698gravity.ALL.sisx">here. [/div]

Wish list

There are a few things we'd like to see on the future releases of Gravity like:

  • A way for the built in browser to be cleared after hiding it. Gravity goes up to 20-25MB of RAM usage when visiting websites and remains there even when leaving the built in browser. Only way is to restart the app.
  • A better User Interface for Facebook similar to Twitter with a central menu containing everything. Now the only way to move from messages to status, notifications and so on is through sliding
  • A mark-all-as-read button for facebook messages and twitter's DM and replys
  • Different notification icons for facabook and twitter. When having a new message it's hard to see from which account comes.
  • More languages/layouts for the built in qwerty keyboard. Phorepoc is willing to help on that for Greek Language support!
  • More options for updating intervals and sound notifications on facebook and google reader just like twitter.
  • Previewing images on facebook just like on twitter and youtube videos through real player
  • An option to be able to choose the shortening service and maybe add custom YOURLS site support
  • Fix a few bugs on the built in browser which causes Gravity to crash
  • Support for twitlonger. When composing a tweet longer than 140 characters button will change to twitlonger. Also some support to read twitlonger tweets without opening the browser would be nice.
  • Further develop the homescreen widget which is functionally really basic
  • Options to choose the shortening service and maybe some support for <a href="http://yourls.org/">yourls
  • Integrate with system notifications. We'd love to see system pop ups or even notification icons similar to those of new sms/calls as long as that is applicable
  • Create special Copy paste buttons or make sticky keys on the built in keyboard so there would be a way to copy and paste text on non-multitouch S60v5 devices

We went one step further and with the help of photoshop we made some pics to show how we want Gravity's UI to look in later versions. Just click below on the pics to see them full screen

We will continue to keep you updated on new findinds and new releases of Gravity and also give as much feedback as we can to Jan Ole Suhr in order to help him make Gravity even more perfect