Many people out there have been wondering to themselves, how far along is Nokia in the development of MeeGo? Today they got their answer. Nokia and Intel released MeeGo 1.1 for developers. They heavily stressed that this was not supposed to be a day to day device and that they only wanted people who were developing applications to use it as a testing platform.

MeeGo 1.1 Running on our Nokia N900
MeeGo 1.1 Running on our Nokia N900

After all has been said and done, we managed to install the 1.8GB file onto our SD card at which point we then proceeded to flash the MeeGo kernel onto the phone and allow the boot up process to begin. The nice thing about this solution is that you?re not necessarily stuck with MeeGo, but if you turn off the device and turn it back on, it automatically boots back into Maemo 5. For most developers, though, this shouldn?t really be much of an issue since this phone should be in a Lab anyways.

Welcome to MeeGo v1.1 - This is the screen that will greet you following the successful load
Welcome to MeeGo v1.1 – This is the screen that will greet you following the successful load

After we flashed the device with MeeGo 1.1 and booted it up we decided to give it a spin and played with whatever features were already pre-installed on the device. The first thing we noticed was the centralized menu with the MeeGo mascots in the background. After playing with it a bit we noticed that the OS was very turn-friendly. The OS liked both portrait and landscape and did not have issues even in the main menu [which most smartphone OSes do]. The fact that the OS enables the user to effectively use the entire OS at any point in landscape or portrait is already a big win.

Photo Viewer is one of N900 strong points, regardless of running Maemo 5 or MeeGo 1.1
Photo Viewer is one of N900 strong points, regardless of running Maemo 5 or MeeGo 1.1

MeeGo comes with 4 default buttons on the screen. From left to right they go, Phone, Web Browser, Menu, Music and Settings. The Menu button gives you access to all of the applications and standard apps that MeeGo already has. In this case, those things are SMS, Calendar, Videos, People, Xterm Terminal, Chat, and Photos. We first tried making a call using MeeGo and successful made a call to our home number? After that, we proceeded to head on over to BSN* while still having the phone open.

One of strong points of MeeGo is native multi-tasking mode: switching between open apps is a breeze
One of strong points of MeeGo is native multi-tasking mode: switching between open apps is a breeze

This allowed us to test out the Multi-Tasking ability. We are proud to say that MeeGo multitasks just like Maemo does but with a larger live feed of what?s actually going on in that program. As we did this, we then proceeded to open up the music player and play a song while browsing the web. Once we got to our site, we noticed that there was no flash support but the Firefox based browser does run on WebKit 2.1. After doing that, we played a bit with the photos and SMS applications and upon trying to send someone an SMS we noticed that the keyboard mapping was entirely off.

To our success, we managed to run approximately 4 applications at the same time without any lock ups and we really liked with the way that the OS was designed considering it was still practically in alpha form, not even beta. We also tried to use the camera part of the photos application, but we could not get it to initialize. We expect that the majority of these bugs will be worked out by the development community as they begin to tweak and play with MeeGo and develop applications for it.

Phone menu on MeeGo 1.1 - Switches perfectly between Portrait and Landscape modes, just like the rest of the apps
Phone menu switches perfectly between Portrait and Landscape modes, just like the rest of the apps

From our experiences with MeeGo so far, we can tell you that the operating system definitely seems promising for the future and with the announcement that MeeGo 1.2 will be out in April 2011 we will likely see MeeGo 1.2 based devices rolling out around then. Also, we can tell you that based on our experience with the menus and such, parts of the operating system seemed like they were designed for phones possibly larger than the N900?s 3.5" touch screen.

On the second page you can see more images of MeeGo 1.1 running on Nokia N900.

MeeGo 1.1 Picture Gallery
Bright Side of News* on Built-in Browser - Notice the absence of Flash in this intial version
Bright Side of News* on Built-in Browser – Notice the absence of Flash in this initial version

Quick and easy tab preview will be one of strong points - a near PC-like experience when it comes to surfing
Quick and easy tab preview will be one of strong points – a near PC-like experience when it comes to surfing

Built-in Firefox is very easy to handle in the regular portrait mode as well.
Built-in Firefox is very easy to handle in the regular portrait mode as well.