iSuccumbed

August 12, 2010

Yes, I succumbed. Or more accurately, iSuccumbed.

I’ve been a loyal Palm fanboy for more than a decade. I’ve had a series of Palm devices, including the Palm VII, several Treos, and finally the Palm Pre. I’ve touted Palm for years and even converted numerous (but not countless, I admit) folks to the Palm mentality.

When the iPhone was released several years ago, I was quick to disparage it. It lacked a physical keyboard. It didn’t sport a visual notifications that would linger after the screen shuts off. Its vibrate alert was dweeby. Its push email, other than for its own me.com emails, is half-hearted. Apple is resistant to hacky-innovation. Heck, at that time, the iPhone didn’t even have copy-and-paste.

So, as millions upon millions of iPhones were sold in its various incarnations, I continued to resist its siren song. I fought the lemming lure and stayed steadfast to Palm (now HP/Palm) and its wonderful WebOS devices.

And yet, earlier this week, I succumbed.

I ordered an iPhone 4, and it’ll arrive soon. I cannot wait.

So why did I succumb? Two words: FaceTime and Apps. (Ok, so that’s three words – but somehow “and” just doesn’t count.)

FaceTime

Using FaceTime, two iPhone 4 users can hold a two-way videophone conversation. FaceTime also takes advantage of several iPhone 4 features: a camera in the front, and another in the back. And FaceTime makes it possible for the user to “flip” the view from front to back without having to flip the camera – a very useful feature.

Videoconferencing via a smartphone ain’t new. Not much innovation there. Yet, Apple is able to come up with hardware that works well and sell enough units that they become part of the mainstream. And because of the sheer number of devices with these features, developers and businesses take heed and develop nearly countless (ok, over 200,000) related apps.

Take, for example, ZVRS – a video relay interpreting service for people who are deaf or hard of hearing or have communication disabilities. ZVRS partnered with Apple and built an app in which iPhone users can make “phone calls” while communicating via sign language through ZRS’s interpreters. Niiiiiiiiiice.

ZVRS iPhone app

The iPhone hardware and its associated (and massive) ecosystem are the two main reasons why iSuccumbed after so long. At this time, Palm simply does not have the numbers (both smartphones and apps) to keep me. I’m certain that with HP’s recent acquisition, Palm will release new hardware – but it has waited too long, and I am moving on.

Don’t get me wrong. WebOS, I firmly believe, is still superior to iOS. I particularly love how WebOS multitasks (and the fact that it has multitasked from day one). I adore the gesture areas outside the screen on the Pre and Pixi! Yet the numbers and new hardware simply aren’t there (yet?).

No, wait. I’m at least giving the iPhone a 30-day trial period to see if I truly like it (and AT&T) enough to abandon Palm altogether.

Stay iTuned.

Arrgggghhhh!

July 15, 2010

Methinks I’m having too much fun with my Palm Pre and the various photo touch-up apps available on it. 

Here’s one, using gems from the Palm Pre’s Camera Fun! app:

And here’s myself looking a bit, well, puzzled (via Pre’s Photo Effects Plus app):

Puzzled Josh

To make this photo of a shark eating lil scared me, I simply used the “Change Frame” option on the Photo Point app. 

More self-mocking photos coming soon! :-)

The Palm just announced its next big thing, and it’s a BIG THING:

The Palm Pre.  (Not to be confused with the Palm Treo Pro.)

It has almost everything I want, and more:

  • Large 3.1 inch touchscreen — 320×480 resolution HVGA display
  • Slide-out physical QWERTY keyboard (and if you complain about old Sidekick-like sliding keyboards, wait till you SEE this!)
  • GPS
  • WiFi
  • EVDO via the Sprint network
  • Integrated IM, SMS, and email
  • 3 megapixel camera with flash
  • Three sensors: ambient light, accelerometer, and proximity
  • 8gig storage (but no SD card slot)
  • Wireless charging dock (yes, I said wireless)
  • … and it feels like a smooth pebble in your hand …

I’ve looked at the iPhone and found it wanting for several reasons.   I’ve been waiting with bated breath for an Android smartphone running on the Verizon or Sprint network that looks and acts better than Tmobile’s new “brick.”  

But the Palm Pre might win my heart quicker than a beautiful Android phone.  Since the Sprint Palm Pre is coming out the first half of 2009, and since rumors have it that a Sprint Android phone will come out around the same time, it may be a true race to see which one I pick.

There are some things I really like about my trusty (but becoming ancient) Palm Treo 755p that I hope will carry over into the Palm Pre.  Let’s call it a Deaf Geek Wishlist:

  • Chatteremail was hands down the best email program I’ve ever used.  It was ultimately bought by Palm.  Will it be used as the default email program in the new Pre?  I hope so.
  • I loved the Palm’s LED notification that lights up (or blinks, depending on how you set it) if you’ve got new email.  Will the Pre have this too?
  • Via Chatteremail, I could set the Palm Treo 755p to vibrate up to 9 times for a new email.  I could even set it to vibrate 5 times for email from my partner and 3 times for anybody else’s.  The iPhone and the Android G1 only vibrates one time for new email etc.  Will the Pre be able to vibrate multiple times (ok, I know this isn’t sounding right, but stay with me please), and can this be customizable?
  • I must have an IMAP connection that works in the background while the smartphone’s screen is off.  Yes, like Chatteremail (again, that program!) does.  Emails must be fetched from my IMAP account (like Gmail) nearly as quickly as they arrive — and not 5 or 10 or 15 minutes later via polling.  And this must be done without having to set up or sign up for an Exchange server.  If this cannot be done on the Pre, then the deal’s off and I’m running off with an Android phone.
  • Will the Pre have videocamera capability?  I hope so.  I like recording quick video messages and sending them to my love and our children.  I just wish there was a videocamera on front of the Pre as well so I can have a videophone conversation.  Ah well, can’t have everything!

Treo Pro Coming Soon!

August 21, 2008

A new type of Treo is coming out – the Treo Pro! Will the Treo Pro, coupled with the Palm Centro, be enough to stop Palm’s declining market share of smartphones? Palm smartphones are now 3rd in usage nation-wide. While the iPhone is in 4th place, it’s catching up fast.

Some quick specs — it’ll have built-in GPS (including navigation), run on Windows Mobile (not Palm OS – damn), have wi-fi (yay!), have 256mb RAM memory, 2.0 megapixel camera, 320×320 touch screen that’s flush with the rest of the body (easier to keep clean!), have a slimmer body (I think it went through the South Beach diet), 3G data connectivity (fast data speeds), microUSB connector (no more hunting for the right connector!), and more.

I’m disappointed that it’s running on Windows Mobile instead of Palm OS — I run plenty of programs that are Palm OS-only, like Chatter, Bonsai, Bubbles, and a few others. Plus, I’m not certain how I can set up push email on Palm devices running on Windows Mobile, like I have on Palm OS devices.

(Thanks, Treonaunts!)

EDIT 8/22: Here’s the official Palm announcement, and a followup Palm blog post being bemused at all the attention and adoration it’s getting.

When you use your Palm Treo (and I’m sure Centro too) using the Palm OS as much as I do, you’re probably constantly jumping from application to application and then back. Here’s a quick trick to see the last 8 applications you’ve used on your Palm: just press the Home key (it looks like a house) for a half second or so until you see a small window pop up. Then release the Home key and press or scroll down to the app you want.

Using Home key to see last several apps you used

(Image thanks to Palmaddict which already blogged about this little gem along with several recommendations for better app-switching programs)

A quick blog post to let folks know that Google Maps Mobile has been updated to version 2.0.2.0. To install it, go to http://www.google.com/gmm via your Palm Treo or Centro’s web browser and download / install it over the air.

Google Maps Mobile My LocationThe biggest change is that for Palm Centro smartphones, it supports “My Location,” a close approximation of where you are. While it’s not exact, it’s good when searching for nearby stores. However, as my poor hapless partner reports, it’s confusing to see My Location when following driving directions — he constantly thinks it’s exactly where he is, and consequently gets lost. Turn it off when following directions, honey!

There are a few more smaller changes, notably combining “Location” and “Search” into one option. When using the keypad to scroll the screen, the scrolling is done smoothly instead of jerkly – a nice touch and easier for tracking the moving screen. When a location is found, a small green arrow “drops” onto it — nice animation. And when opening a location, you can then see links for “Directions to here,” “Directions from here,” and “Search nearby.”

Just don’t forget to periodically reset Google Maps, or else your map cache will grow too large.

Very nice touches, Google! One of my favorite Palm programs has gotten even better.

For years, I’ve had problems trying to sync my Palm Treo with my computer via the HotSync cables.

(What, you’re reading this because you thought the title meant something more risque than this? Please! This is a somewhat family-friendly blog!)

I’d repeatedly press the HotSync button, and disconnect and then reconnect my Palm with the Sync cable up to ten or even twenty times before it would finally start the HotSync process. Very, very frustrating. I knew it was because of dirt and gunk accumulated in the connector at the bottom of the Palm unit, but still …

Then while trying to clean my Palm’s connectors with Purell, I discovered something.

Purell as lubeEvery time I want to sync my Palm, all I need to do is to rub a dab of Purell a bit vigorously along the connectors. It will sync after each time I do this. Without fail.

But then when I take my Palm and use it for more than a few minutes and try to sync it again without a dab of Purell, it won’t work. And then I have to rub Purell again along the Palm connectors so I can sync it.

So now every time I want to sync my Palm, I just rub Purell along it first. Works every time.

Who knew that a bit of Purell on the base of one’s Palm works just like a lubricant?

(Ok, I couldn’t resist. Family time again.)

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