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Summary:

So Palm’s Pre is nearly a week old. Early reviews and first impressions were generally favorable, but do they get better or worse with age? That’s the recurring question I’m seeing in my Twitter feed, on FriendFeed, and in my email. I still feel that the […]

palm-preSo Palm’s Pre is nearly a week old. Early reviews and first impressions were generally favorable, but do they get better or worse with age? That’s the recurring question I’m seeing in my Twitter feed, on FriendFeed, and in my email. I still feel that the device is more like a 1.5 version than a 1.0 version. But the beauty is often only skin deep: There’s breadth and depth missing in the Pre. Nearly all of the gaps can be addressed by software or firmware updates, and I hope Palm iterates early and often. To help it (and some of you who are still on the fence about a purchase), here’s a list of what I’d like to see fixed right away. If any of these issues are user error on my part, please let me know and I’ll update the post. Also, the list is based on my own needs and usage. Everyone’s requirements are different, so my list may not be the same as yours. In fact, it might help everyone if you added your own in the comments.

1. Notifications – This feature is one of the strengths of the Pre. It’s also become the most annoying one to me personally. It needs work. Oh, the notifications work well when the phone wants to tell you something. You get an email, and Pre will tell you in an unobtrusive way. That’s great. It’s like an elephant, though: It never forgets them until you dismiss them. The notifications seem to be a fire-and-forget mechanism when they should be in sync and updating dynamically.

pre-notificationHere’s an example screencap I just took. It shows me what I’m listening to on Pandora, and it tells me I have five emails, the latest one being from Intuit about Quickbooks. There’s only one problem: On my computer, I’ve already read the five emails and taken action by deleting them, responding to them or taking another action. Pre’s notification area doesn’t reflect that. I have to manually swipe the notification away into oblivion when it should automatically refresh, update or dismiss. If I don’t do that, the unread email count on the Pre keeps rising — so does my stress level.

2. Quick movement to the top of a web page – There’s simply no way I can see to get to the top of a web page in the browser. This kills my productivity when I’m reading a long or tall page like Friendfeed. I manually have to scroll, scroll, scroll. Am I spoiled by the iPhone’s double-tap feature that offers a quick jump to the top? Maybe, but that’s because it’s a great user interface feature. Apple offers it in apps other than the browser, too.

3. Where’s the scrollbar? – Speaking of scrolling on a web page: Since I have to do it so often, where’s the scrollbar that tells me where I am on the page? To me, this is a very basic bit of functionality that’s required.

4. No internal targets or bookmarks? – Another web browser gap that’s wasting my time: When I click on bookmark link, the browser doesn’t take me to it. I don’t mean web bookmarks like a saved URL. I mean a specific bookmark on a web page. For example, I often browse to our home page and look at the comments in the sidebar. Each comment has its own unique URL composed of the post URL and a bookmark on the post page for the comment. In any other browser, a click of the commenter’s name takes me directly to their comment. Not on the Pre. It takes me to the top of the web page, and I have to scroll down to find the comment I want.

5. Page rendering – This is the last browser issue I’ll raise. It’s a sporadic one, but I see it on various sites; Google Reader is a notorious one. Sometimes when refreshing a page or navigating to another page on the same site, Pre renders it above the screen. You get a blank-looking space because you’re below the actual page. Scroll up and you’ll find what you were looking for. Very odd.

6. GPS – The radio is on by default if you activate Location Services during the initial setup. I have no issue with that, but I’ve since turned the GPS radio off to help save battery life. At least I think I did because I can’t find an indicator to tell me. I could go through the menus and check the Location Services, but why not add a GPS indicator to the main screen? I love how I can tap the top right of Pre to see or mod setting for the other radios, i.e., Wi-Fi, EVDO and Bluetooth. Why segregate GPS?

7. Dictionary is lacking – I don’t know how many words the auto-correction dictionary has, but it’s not even close to being enough. The very minimal basics are there: Things like contractions and common words work well enough. However, there’s just not enough in there to really call this a feature yet.

pre-calendar8. Wasted space in selection areas – I’m specifically talking about those pre-filled scrolling selection fields — things like dates, for example, where you select by spinning the selections up or down. Pre is fitting five selections in the spinning dial, but it could fit more. This is especially important because of the smaller screen that Pre has as compared with other, similar smartphones. It means more scrolling. It’s a minor gripe for sure, but I’d love to see it fixed, maybe even configurable as in “Show x choices” where I can pick what x is from 3 to 8 perhaps.

9. Cut / Copy / Paste – In fairness, I never missed the feature on my iPhone. I’m glad it’s on the Pre, but I don’t think I’ll use it much if history is any judge. Still, I tried it. It needs work. Palm needs just one more hardware key to make it better. As it stands now, you press the Shift key on the keyboard and you scroll on the screen to select text. Then you abandon the keyboard entirely for the remaining steps. Using the top-left menu system on Pre’s screen, you tap the Edit on the display and then tap Cut, Copy or Paste in the menu that drops down. One more hardware qualifier key would make this faster and easier with a two-button combo. Since we can’t add another key, I’m hoping we see a software solution. Or perhaps the center button can get “smarter” and be used with the C, V or X key to cut, copy and paste if text is highlighted. I’d love to see the cut, copy, paste function in non-text fields as well. If I want to copy a paragraph of text on a web page, I should be able to do it.

Updated: Props to Aaron who left a comment with a much better method to cut, copy and paste. He found it in the PreCentral forums. You simply hold the gesture area and press the C, V or X key at the same time. I still want to see the feature extended to non-editable text.

10. Mail movement – In general, I really like the mail application. But as regular readers know, I’ve been jammed up with spam lately. When I get spam on the Pre, it’s taking too much time to move mail into the spam folder. The spam folder is a subfolder of my Gmail folders. On my iPhone, the default Gmail folders are at the top of the folder list. On the Pre, they’re on the bottom which means I have to scroll through all of my mail folders each time I want to “mark” a message as spam. I realize that if Palm flip-flopped this, then I’d have the same issue when moving mail to my personal folders. Let’s make the display order configurable.

The success of Palm’s Pre won’t just be based on the launch weekend. The gun has just gone off, and the race has just begun. The real key to success will be to see how often Palm offers fixes and updates to the various bug and feature enhancement lists. And as I mentioned before, everyone’s list is different and could be even longer. These are the 10 that are impacting me the most right now. What’s bugging you on your Pre?

  1. Regarding #9 (cut/copy/paste):

    http://forums.precentral.net/palm-pre/184012-there-copy-paste-hotkey.html

    quote: “touching the black part of the lower gesture area and hitting the x, c, or v button will cut, copy, or paste, respectively. ”

    No need to use the edit menu at all.

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    1. Aaron, thanks for pointing out this excellent tip! Just tried it and it worked flawlessly. I’ll update the post and point out your comment. I’d still like to see this feature in a non-editable text field, but at least the method is easier!

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  2. I just saw a Pre in real life for the first time in line at the deli. The owner gave me a quick demo. It looks like a nice phone. Too bad it’s on Sprint.

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    1. GoodThings2Life Thursday, June 11, 2009

      Funny… I say the same thing about any respectable device on AT&T or Verizon after I look at the cost.

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    2. That’s the only single reason I don’t own an Iphone – too bad it’s only on AT&T.

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  3. The dictionary is also fully editable if you use some of the hacks that have been surfacing recently.

    I know that might be a little too complicated for many right now, but I have a feeling it’ll become easier in time.

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  4. Email will need serach and filter capabilities before I buy it. If it wants to compete with Blackberry (and not just the iPhone as some have suggested)

    How can you find one message in 1000 without a search, or filter or sort by function???

    Maybe the makers of Flexmail for WM will come out with something

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  5. Missing features:
    1. Alarms on Tasks.
    2. Categories on Contacts
    3. GCal integration is slow. Often my calendar appears blank. Almost as if the calendar is being downloaded every time.
    4. Navigating text using the keyboard. The only way to move the text cursor (to correct a typo, for example) is to tap the screen in EXACTLY the right spot. Needs something like arrow keys or the Treo rocker key.
    5. Better/more calendar views. The week and month views are pretty useless. Need better ways to view more than one day at a time.
    6. Landscape mode for more apps. Especially for Calendar, which would fix #5.

    Great device overall. I just hope Palm fixes things like this quickly.

    (sent from my Palm Pre)

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    1. GoodThings2Life Thursday, June 11, 2009

      Good list, and I’d agree that anything making calendar viewing easier on any device is a good thing.

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    2. For number 4, have you checked out the tip in a video previously posted here? You can use the orange button and swipe on the screen to move your selection cursor. I’d argue that needs a fine-tuning option (orange and left side of gesture area maybe?) for moving one character at a time but otherwise it’s working well.

      Anyway, I’d definitely be one of the first to agree that there’s a ton of little things that need to be updated on the Pre(and I agree with more than a few here.) At the same time, I’m more than happy with the device as is, and am especially excited about the promise that it shows for the future.

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    3. I will also like to see the landscape for the calendar!!! I love my Palm Pre…

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    4. If you hold the orange key on the key board you can move the cursor freely by sliding your finger

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  6. In the browser, to get to a new URL quickly, just hit the center button and start typing the new address. Universal Search will put the whole web address as one of the matches, and when you tap that, you’ll open a new window for the site. It will even highlight it so you can just hit enter.

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    1. Ben, that’s a great tip, but it doesn’t solve any of my listed issues. :(

      Often, I want to click a different link on a web site’s menu bar, which is often at the top. FriendFeed is a perfect example. I’ll read through the full first page which puts me at the bottom. Then I want to read my FriendFeed feed to see if anyone has commented on my postings. That link is at the very top of the page so I have to scroll, scroll, scroll… not good.

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    2. So are you a happy Pre user despite leaving Palm, Ben? ;)

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  7. So are you happy with it? I am having trouble deciding between this and the iPhone 3GS.

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    1. I don’t regret the purchase and I have no plans to return it. I will be upgrading my first-gen iPhone to a 3GS, but not everyone wants/needs two voice lines. At this exact point in time, I believe that Apple is offering a more refined and deeper experience. That can change with software updates by Palm, which was the point of my post.

      My recommendation is to spend some hands on time with each of the phones and then make the choice that suits you best.

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    2. when comparing these two phones you have to remember something. this is Palm’s first gen for this specific phone. talking about apple, they are on their 3rd gen with the 4th coming pretty soon. they have much more “experience” put into their phone. so if you just be patient and enjoy what the phone has, palm will be tuning and tweaking this all the time and it can only get better. i just left att and my 3g for sprint and the pre this past week. main reason? im saving 40$ a month for almost the same phone. thats a lot of money..

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  8. A couple things…how is battery life not the number one issue on this list? I barely use my pre and it doesn’t make it through a day. Definitely with you on the notifications. Also, there is no way to select multiple emails for deletion or marking as read. If you take a bunch of pictures quickly with the spacebar (a nice feature) there is no way to select multiple pictures to delete, you have to go one by one. The sound and notification settings are terrible. There’s no way to say, I want my IMs to just vibrate, my texts to play a sound and vibrate, and emails to just vibrate. It’s pretty ridiculous.

    But really….battery life.

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    1. Mike, I completely agree with you on the battery life. I was focusing on software fixes more than hardware. It’s even possible that some optimizations can be made with software to help with battery life, so your point is spot on.

      I don’t mind the multiple email bit as much as you do. A quick swipe and an email is deleted without confirmation. Ideally, marking email would be a better solution; it would help with my moving mail to Spam as well.

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      1. I think it would be awesome if we could just swipe left for spam, and right for trash. That would just about fix the problem. Or, even better, make it user-configurable. Say you never delete e-mail, but archive it? make that the swipe-right. The possibilities are pretty endless as so many people have different email configurations.

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    2. Yes definitely. I think that the software can really improve battery life. On my old Touch Diamond, once I loaded a custom rom the battery life improved dramatically.

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    3. my pre was doing the same thing; i took it in (because i was going to return it for this reason — no point in paying so much for a phone that i have to charge more than once a day) but they tested my battery and said there was a short in it. they replaced the battery for free and it seems to be doing slightly better (lasting at least 12 hours with little usage instead of 5-6 like i was getting).
      i may still take it back and get the curve. i am in a dilemma.

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    4. If the Pre is not working out for you, then it make sense to take it back. But don’t get a Curve! The new Blackberry Tour is due to arrive next month and should be a much nicer device.

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  9. I really thought that they would keep what made palm terrific and just add the new stuff. I didn’t realize I was giving up what made palm a really great organizer. I’m hoping for some mighty updates really soon.

    Some of my personal problems include:

    In the calendar(the site that frustrates me the most): too few colors available, month view has no colors and I can’t swipe to the next month, there is no year view & the alarm settings are too limited.

    In the contacts: no groups setting available and most of the data that I had stored in the notes section transferred over as gibberish.

    Speed dial is limited and dumb. I have to press a letter and hold it down for a really long time & I have to remember what letter I assigned to each person. Give me back the sorted lists like on the treos.

    Hardware: needs a toggle for scrolling and moving the cursor around.

    Text messaging: no quick texts or emoticons :-(

    Also – on my treo – the main screen had a quick view of my upcoming appts. and of important calendar events like birthdays,etc without opening the calendar section at all.

    I feel like I’ve taken a major step back in productivity. It’ really annoying.

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    1. You can swipe to the next month by swiping up and down. I completely agree with everything else though. And there needs to be an agenda view.

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    2. Hmm, that’s interesting that they would have left out some of the things that made Treo’s popular “to me at least”. I have a Treo and planning to get a Pre this weekend but now I’m going to have to go back to the store and really vet this thing.
      I assumed that the standard copy/paste, quick name search feature (when sending text or email), Upcoming Events view, Year view in the calendar view would be there. What the heck.

      Also something I found odd is that my Treo 755p can take pictures or record video but the Pre can’t record video???.

      Oh well

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  10. Great list. Agree with basically everything. Sorry you’re having spam problems.

    As for battery issues, I had the same issues and went through steps to try to figure out what’s going on.

    It’s doing fine now, but you can check the thread here:
    http://friendfeed.com/palm-pre/9ec3cb57/palm-pre-overheating-and-battery-dies-in-3-hours

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