The perils of the Nokia Smart Installer

When Nokia ported Qt to Symbian, they realised that requiring developers to embed the entire Qt library with their app was unreasonable. And for reasons only Nokia knows, they also decided not to embed and update Qt in the phone firmware, even for new devices.

To solve these problems Nokia developed what the “Smart Installer”, which is a dependency checker and installer that runs before an app is installed to make sure the appropriate version of Qt is or gets installed. The Smart Installer is embedded in the package file the developer submit to the Ovi store. It is a requirement for any Qt based application to have the Smart Installer, which makes some sense (though it would be better if the Smart Installer lived on the phone itself).

So in theory, this is all good. Dependency checking is a good idea. Not shipping Qt with every application package is a good idea. Making it easy for app developers to deploy the Smart Installer is a good idea. The problem is that it often doesn’t work. To be fair, for me the Smart Installer has almost always worked, and I would assume the failure rate is actually pretty low. But with millions of phones out there, even a low failure rate translates to many failed installs. And it’s the app developer that gets the blame for what is poor software quality by Nokia!

Today I was browsing reviews for my app CoverUp, for which the rating has been continuously slipping for some time. What I discover is that the reviews are either 4-5 stars for the app itself, or 1 star because they paid for the app, and it refused to install. There are even people calling me out as a fraudster! I’ve created a great app that thousands of people love, and I’m getting slammed by the minority of users whose install failed (after paying for it, mind you!) because I follow Nokia’s rules and embed the Smart Installer.

Nokia needs to sort this out ASAP, firstly by providing technical support to people who are having problems with the Smart Installer in a way that I can point my angry users to because lately most of my support requests relate to Smart Installer. Secondly, they must fix the Smart Installer and update every app in the Ovi store (because as I noted above, the binary itself lives in the application package). Thirdly, they must remove all the reviews and ratings that are purely Smart Installer failures that I as an app developer cannot do anything about!

And this really can’t happen too soon. Nokia, we’re waiting for an official statement.

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About teknolog
Mobile developer. One of the good guys.

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