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  1.    #1  
    In another thread someone asked what features would make people happy in a Treo 700. That thread didn't get much attention so I'm sort of reviving it with a new thread title. But I'm also possibly shifting the focus a bit from the original author's intentions. I'd like to start up a discussion about features combined with usability-focused software integration that people think would truly offer value in a next-gen communicator. Rather than focus on some tech spec (like WiFi or 128MB of RAM), I'd like to see discussion around the usability scenarios. I really think that there are truly amazing things that could be done with last year's technology that have yet to be done.

    In terms of an actual hardware design that I think makes for a better communicator than the Treo 600/650 designs, you can see the link in my signature (I created this mockup a long while back and have been wanting to update it for a while - such as to make the up/down toggle on the outside into a D-Pad - but it's still decent as-is).

    Specific to my hardware design, here are some ideas of mine...
    1) Outer display would be a color 160x160 pixel standard Palm OS display, inner display would be a Palm OS 480x320 display.
    2) Springboard II. Smaller than original Springboard spec. Possible Springboard ideas would be an extra battery, WiFi module, and the camera. Having the camera be part of an add-on Sprinboard would kill two birds with one stone as the manufacturer could have one hardware design that works for people who can't have cameraphones due to security concerns at their work. The Springboard camera would offer a flash and decent camera optics. Unlike the tech-spec obsessed, I think that 1.3MP max would be plenty as the bigger the files, the longer it will take to wirelessly send them. Plus, I believe that eventually people won't be printing out photos anyways - they'll just be having their friends/family view them on online photo albums or emailing them.
    3) Priced affordably (under $200) so that you can afford to get one for every member of your family.
    4) Snap-on faceplates to change colors. And with everyone in your family owning one, you'll need to know whose is whose.

    Other ideas that are less specific to my design...
    5) Built-in GPS or at least API access to the 911 GPS system. I really think that always having a GPS on your person is the next "always having wireless data" or "always having a camera." When you take a picture, it would log not only the date/time you took it, but also where you took it. You could transmit your coordinates to someone on the other end of your phone call, or have it wirelessly transmit your coordinates to your spouse at set intervals so that they know that you're safe. Give one to your child to keep with them all the time so that you can keep track of their location (once they become a pre-teen, they'll learn to shut that feature off).
    6) Son of PQA. Revive this technology and update it to support all the media rich functionality and GPS stuff. Release a RAD development tool which allows average users with little to no programming experience to create their own applications. Easy to use RAD tools will usher in a renaissance of mobile apps. This happened with VBVBVB $on$ $the$ $desktop$ $and$ $with$ $the$ $easy$ $and$ $free$ $access$ $to$ $the$ $original$ $PQA$ $technology$. $The$ $time$ $is$ $right$, $we$ $just$ $need$ $an$ $open$ $platform$ $and$ $some$ $free$ ($or$ $at$ $least$ $cheap$) $RAD$ $tools$.
    7) Work with mobile carriers to integrate PDA software with their back-end tech. Why should my smartphone be so dumb as to only be capable of informing me that I have one or more voicemails waiting via an icon? I should be able to pull up an applet on my smartphone which shows me a list of all of my voicemails waiting and allow me to use a stylus or D-Pad to scroll through the list to play, rewind, pause, delete, etc. my messages. Don't make me trudge through a phonepad UI when I could have a rich 320x320 GUI which allows me to select on-screen buttons to change my voicemail greeting, etc. Similarly, there should be software that allows me to check my current month's usage, search for phone numbers I dialed months ago, etc. This is all stored in the databases of these mobile operators, so it's available for data mining.
    8) More creative use of the camera. Combine it with some OCR technology to allow me to take a picture of a document and convert it to actual text.
    9) Build in WeSync-like technology that allows me to quickly and easily view friends and family calendars, add appointments to those family members, have them respond as to whether they're available for that datebook item, etc. This sort of technology is apparently available via the Exchange server stuff, but that's only useful for corporate folks. I'm talking about bringing this technology to the soccer moms.

    I think that's enough for now.

    Scott
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  2.    #2  
    What? No interest in this? Moderators, if you think this would be better suited to the General Discussion forum, that's fine. Come on guys, surely some of you would like to discuss ideas for adding true value rather than just complaining about lack of WiFi in the T650 and discussing who got what coupon where.

    Scott
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  3. #3  
    It's too much to read...I have a job that I have to at least pretend like I'm doing.
  4. #4  
    is that supposed to be an essay?
  5. #5  
    ScottR,
    Great ideas for fully implementing existing technology. I specially liked the GPS and back-end carrier integration.
    A new Avatar to commemorate Silly Season.
  6. #6  
    nope... I think this forum is just limited to people just waiting for the treo 650 and whining about bad things :P

    I really like the GPS thing. There are so many things you could do with that. Like what about set the co-ordinates of the school so that when I walk into my school (or office meeting room, etc) the phoen automatically switches to silent mode...

    Having GPS as standard I think is a must and I don't get why they don't do it because its also active inside the phone. Surely it won't use up much battery life, etc.

    Maybe make a hard switch that allows you to turn it off for applications. I heard stalking and hacking might be problems
  7. #7  
    Quote Originally Posted by Yautja_cetanu
    nope... I think this forum is just limited to people just waiting for the treo 650 and whining about bad things :P

    I really like the GPS thing. There are so many things you could do with that. Like what about set the co-ordinates of the school so that when I walk into my school (or office meeting room, etc) the phoen automatically switches to silent mode...

    Having GPS as standard I think is a must and I don't get why they don't do it because its also active inside the phone. Surely it won't use up much battery life, etc.

    Maybe make a hard switch that allows you to turn it off for applications. I heard stalking and hacking might be problems
    Someone asked the question at the Roadshow and ithe answer made sense. GPS is dependant on line of site satillite signals. Most of the time Treo is inside, inside the car or building. I know my Magellan does not work unless it is in the dash.

    They now have external Treo GPS receiving units, you knew that right?
  8.    #8  
    There are newer GPS units that can work inside your pocket and even inside your house to some degree. Don't ask me how.

    Then there's the 911 GPS functionality built into modern cell phones (including the Treo 600, I believe). I suspect that the accuracy of thisn't as good and that it may not be as up-to-date, so using it for driving and getting super-accurate information may not be possible. OTOH, it would allow you to get your rough GPS coordinates inside of buildings (so long as you're still getting a wireless signal). Unfortunately, no cell phone maker has opened up access to this. It could be that it's a legal thing such that they can't, but I haven't heard that and I'm fairly sure that at least one cell phone has tied into this technology in cooperation with the service provider to provide semi-accurate driving direction info. So, I think it's possible and I wish we'd see access to this opened up on the Treos.

    Scott
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  9.    #9  
    Something else to consider...now that the Treo 650 will have Bluetooth, you could pair it with one of the newer tiny Bluetooth GPS units and clip that on your waist (or wherever) to simulate some aspect of this. We'd still need software to take advantage of this in some creative/useful way (e.g., to periodically retrieve your coordinates and email them home).

    Scott
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  10. #10  
    What I really like is how that 5MP Samsung has a T3 like slider that protects the camera function. What if you had a 650 form factor that telescoped so that you could have a 480X320 display that was maybe a 2.8 inch screen, that also worked in landscape mode. Behind that slider you could put a slightly better camera with flash that allowed for an optical zoom. Wanderman had a similar design. One of the great things about the Treo is the key size, so you dont want to shrink the keys to add screen real estate. I say combine Wanderman and Samsung's designs. Is that what you were looking for Scott?
  11. #11  
    Treo is and will be designed to be a one handed unit. There should never be a reason to use two hands for any functions other than if you choose to type with two hands. If you had a slider it would require 2 hands.
  12. #12  
    Quote Originally Posted by cglaguna
    Treo is and will be designed to be a one handed unit. There should never be a reason to use two hands for any functions other than if you choose to type with two hands. If you had a slider it would require 2 hands.
    Here are some of my thoughts for a smartphone that should be leading the industry:

    GPS: I am big on GPS and feel it should be part of the leading tech smartpones as I already use it in a couple ways at the moment.

    First of all, as mentioned driving.

    Second, I bought a GPS watch by Wherify for my young son, so I can see where he is and track him in an emergency. I can set to via a webpage to automatically do a track at specific times. So if he is suppose to be at the YMCA for swim lessons, then at 11:30 am it does a track and verifies his location. This unit does work in a lot of buildings, like normal houses, ect... It does have challenges in think concrete or metal buildings. It also uses the PCS service to with the GPS to help a call center help the police in an emergency.

    Slider: I like that idea. So if you like the screen size as it is now, never slide the keyboard. If you need a longer screen, or landscape for web browsing, then slide it down, or hopefully to keep the weight at the bottom..slide the screen up. The phone would be intelligent to know what screen mode to run in.

    Two slots: So we can have a mem card and an accessory. Maybe the mem card could go in the side with a locking door and the second slot on the top.

    Intelligent Voicemail: Long overdue....and would be a hot selling point.

    Memory: This is a major spec for many people. 128 should be the the very LEAST it should have. If we are building a phone to lead, go for 256 or 512 as memory is extremely cheap now.

    Connectivity: It should offer all so you can at least use one in any given situation. BT, Wifi, Edge or EVDO, etc...

    Pricing: Release a family and pro version at the same time.

    Family for example $200 or less before contracts. It may not have wifi and EVDO, only 128 mem, and no pro software like exceltogo, etc...

    The pro would have the works with 512 memory, wifi, office bundled software, etc... for $600 before contracts
  13. #13  
    I like the intelligent screen part Hobbes. The slider wouldn't be something you would have to use but if you chose to use it. That way you can get a bigger screen for when its warranted but not have to shrink the size of the keys. I think that keyboard nearly perfect.

    Also its would be similar to opening the lens door on a regular digital, just pop it open and then you can use the zoom functions.

    Intelligent voicemail sounds VERY intriguing.

    The technical stuff Scott references seems cool, but is just beyond me. I cannot add to it there.
  14.    #14  
    Bumping this thread. Great comments so far, guys. Let's see more. Tons of users frequenting TreoCentral and I'm sure we can extract more creativity than what has been the norm of late with some of the more recent discussion about such boring topics as when the 650 will ship from this dealer or that.

    Here's another idea I had which I'm not exactly sure how I'd implement...The simplest approach would be to take the Treo 600/650 as-is and have a little app that would kick off once an hour (or whatever) and sound off a distinct alarm. This would trigger the user to know that the camera was about to take a picture (and record a short audio recording) within five seconds. The user would then aim the phone at the most interesting thing around and when it fired off they would also add some audio commentary about where they were. Of course, if you were in the middle of something super-important, you could push a button to skip that hour's recording.

    The idea being that it would force you to create a "life log" of everywhere you've been that day. It would send the pictures wirelessly to a web server and you (and your friends/family) would be able to search back historically to see a glimpse of what you saw at any point in your life.

    For a future device, this could be enhanced by separating the camera from the phone such that the camera was embedded into a "pin" that you had clipped to you (Star Trek style) so that it could take the hourly picture with no interaction by the user. Having a detachable camera would also come in handy for the purpose of mounting to your computer monitor at work (or wherever) for a pseudo video-conferencing with people who call you. When you get up to go somewhere, you'd clip it back onto your phone where it would trickle charge off of the phone's battery.

    Scott
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  15. #15  
    For what it's worth many Nextel phones have GPS built in. There are some services that duplicate or even expand on the wherify concept using these phones. I'm very big on GPS especially where I could get points of interest and such by having a PQA like local.google.com. With a keyboard that would be great.

    I'd also want the device to have a high powered IR port (or even RF) so that I can use it as a universal remote. There's some really good software PalmOS software and the keyboard would be great for performing all sorts of actions.

    I'd want some wifi in it to steam music around my home like an iPod without a hard drive. Add a bunch of little speaker cradles and you've got fairly good music system.

    The one thing that I didn't like about Springboard is that you could only choose one at time. If someone came out with a GPS Springboard 2, then you couldn't use your camera at the same time to take a picture and attach your location. I like the idea, but it just seems to need more work. Maybe they'd have upgrade paths and as they come out with new combo Springboards you can trade in your original ones and pay a little cash.
  16.    #17  
    SV, what you're asking for sounds like the mini-Nokia communicator style device I mocked up a long while back (see my signature). The phone could be quite small (width and length) and still offer a big keyboard and screen on the inside of the clamshell. The one dimension that likely would not be "small" is the thickness.

    Scott
    Now THIS is the future of smartphones.
  17. #18  
    Not quite - I really want a small phone and a big PDA. Bluetooth comms haven't BEGUN to take advantage of what they can take advantage of yet. The device as I loosely defined it a year and a half ago is very close to what I still want.

    Ken Wirt, who may or may not be out of favor at PalmOne, a long time ago was discussing MULTIPLE devices as being "converged".

    That's what I want, too.

    I can EASILY see a possibly-phone-like device bluetooth-talking to the "master" device that does all the work. The phone-like device has phone features and maybe a camera for some models. It doesn't do ANY cell comms itself perhaps. Instead the relatively-massive master device does. This would allow a single phone-like device to work in all environments (CDMA/GSM/etc) and maybe even the master device to be large enough so it, too, could. The master device, of course, has the PDA side with the humongous screen.

    I think what i'm tallking here is a modular system not unlike the components that make up a home stereo system - pick and choose and combine.

    With the added bonus that the phone part clips onto the master part.

    Anywho, we'll see!

    Maybe.

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