The difference a decade makes: Updates

The next time you look at your on-device application store, with a progress bar showing that an update to, say, Photos is taking an outrageous 30 seconds to apply, here's a cautionary data point from a decade ago...

S60 phone

Pedants will argue that the N93 shown was from 2006, not 2005, but I always love for excuses to show off this tech marvel. So excuse the tech license....!


Reading (usually on AAS) that there was a fix for a particular issue I was having with Gallery (Photos), one of the built-in applications on my S60 smartphone, I decided to do something about it:

09:30 Taking the morning off work, I set off for my local Nokia Service Centre (Camberley).

09:55 Arrived, checked in, Pete wasn't too busy and said he could have a look at my phone and check for the new firmware if I left it with him for an hour.

10:00 Went for a walk, bought a pasty and drink, watched the world go by.

10:30 Bored. Bought a magazine to read.

11:00 Popped back into the Centre and Pete had my phone wired up to a heavy duty PC. "Any luck?" I say, hopefully. "Yes, the new firmwares are on Nokia's servers" he says, "but your phone isn't taking the update."

11:15 After four attempts, the phone grudgingly starts to reflash its software.

11:25 "All done", says Pete, "and no charge, since it's in warranty!". Phew.

11:30 My S60 phone all booted up (you can't rush it), I check Gallery (Photos) and yep, all is now well. Oh, and that annoying SMS issue seems to be sorted too. 

12:00 Arrive at work, just in time for lunch. A generally productive morning's effort, I thought.


8:00 I glance at my Lumia 1020 smartphone. "Oh, Photos is working better now! That's good." I set off for work as normal!


It struck me, while watching updates to core system applications stream into a few of my smartphones (in this case a Lumia 1020 and Samsung Galaxy K Zoom), how far we've come. What used to take half a day now happens in the background without us even noticing. The combination of:

  1. a working Store/Download system (pioneered by Nokia [badly], successfully realised by Apple in 2008, and now standard on every phone)
  2. splitting as much OS functionality as possible, from system applications to service modules, out into a Store for end users to download

Has all meant a massive improvement in how our phones can be more secure, more reliable and generally more up to date. So the next time you watch impatiently as Microsoft Photos or Google Play Services (or similar) trundles across your screen in an outrageously long 30 seconds(!), just pause and remember how things used to be.

Anyone else remember th bad old days?(!)

Published by Steve Litchfield at 7:32 UTC, October 17th

Section: Articles
Categories: Comment, Software
Platforms: General, S60 3rd Edition, General