01/11/2009, 08:36 AM
First up, let's just point out that I'm not exactly new to Palm. Here's my device history (the ones in square brackets I didn't have for very long as the failed in some way or another):
[Pallm IIIc], Palm Vx, Palm M505, [Toshiba e740], Palm Tungsten T, [Treo 270], Treo 600, [i-mate JAM], Treo 650, [HTC TyTN], Nokia E61, [iPhone], iPhone 3G.
I like the Palm way of doing things but became disillusioned with the OS, especially its stability (the 650 was very crashy) and the lack of support for modern wireless technologies (Wifi and 3G). That said, I'm really loving what I've seen about WebOS and the Pre and am thinking about a switch when the GSM version becomes available in the UK. The iPhone and the Pre seem similar in a lot of ways, but (concentrating on the differences) these are the plusses I see for the Pre/WebOS:
1) All apps can multi-task, not just those Apple chooses (i.e. its own).
2) The app switching 'card' UI with live views of the apps and the easy throw-it-off-the-screen way to kill the app (but does it really kill it?)
3) The extended touch screen for gestures and the control it gives (especially the swipe to go back).
4) The quick access wave thing.
5) Search everywhere, from anywhere, just by typing.
6) Great handling of notifications.
7) Calendar UI looks much better (especially adding appointments).
8) There's no turn-by-turn navigation app for the iPhone, possibly because of the multi-tasking restriction of third-party apps or possibly because Apple simply won't allow it. I'm betting Palm won't be such a PITA about this.
9) I'm betting Palm won't be such an interventionist, PITA about apps in general.
... basically it has some great 'Palm-esque' UI elements and Palm is probably going to be much more open about apps than Apple.
The iPhone has plusses too of course:
1) Storage capacity. I'm constantly banging into the 16 GB limit on my iPhone and being limited to 8 GB is very unappealing.
2) Bigger screen.
4) iTunes. iTunes is a great way of managing media on the iPhone. Syncing, smart playlists, etc, etc are way better than drag-and-drop. Buy on the phone, sync to the computer; buy on the computer, sync to the phone; that's the best way.
5) Works with Mac calendar and contact apps (iCal and Address Book) - and with Mobile Me the data is pushed OTA.
6) Apple is great about OS updates - no crap about unsupported devices and separate software releases for the same device on different carriers. Has Palm learned this lesson or will it be as bad as it was back when I had a 650?
7) Apple is also great about keeping the carriers in their place - no nasty carrier logos on the outside, no horrible, carrier-customised software on the inside.
Mostly though which is best and whether to change has to do with imponderables. In no particular order here are some questions that I'm not expecting anyone here to be able to answer but which I think ultimately will determine which I'll end up thinking is the best. About the platform:
1) How good can WebOS apps really be? Some of the apps (games especially) on the iPhone are just jaw dropping. Will we have to wait for the SDK for really rich apps, and if so, when will the apps actually appear?
2) Will developers flock to it like they have to iPhone?
3) Will Palm be able to keep up with the latest developments and refresh devices in a timely manner? Let's not forget that by the time the Pre is out the next gen iPhone will probably be just around the corner (32 GB? Higher res screen?) and Palm is not exactly the healthiest of companies at the moment.
4) I'd also like to know a bit more about how the OS works. Like does throwing the app card off the screen really close it? (In the TC video Peter Skillman says it 'minimises' it. I hope they haven't fallen into the same trap as Microsoft did!)
About the Pre specifically:
1) How solid is the slider?
2) Is the screen made of glass and if it's not will it scratch?
3) How good is it as a phone?
4) How's the audio quality?
5) How's the battery life?
etc.... basically will it work as it should?
The other area of imponderables of course relate to the iPhone. Apple has absolutely shown that it's not going to let the platform stand still. They might even learn a few things from Palm!