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A problem with Garnet emulation on Pre
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Old 01/20/2009, 12:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Even assuming that someone will (and they likely will) write an emulator to run Garnet on webOS, there is one problem that not too many are discussing. These older apps were written for a device that always included a stylus and/or a 5-way D-pad. Some apps don't even work that well with a D-Pad.

So, while the emulator could probably figure out a way to emulate the D-pad, for those apps that relied on a stylus on the touch-screen, you may be out of luck. Fat fingers cannot be as precise as a stylus. Of course if a stylus becomes available (bundled with the emulator?) then that might help -- 'course you'd need a way to carry the stylus too.

If developers get on board with the new webOS, the best bet will be to update/rewrite apps rather than rely on emulation. Yes, that requires re-purchasing, but you'd likely get a better experience.
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Old 01/20/2009, 12:56 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Honestly, I don't use the stylus very much other than for VNC and a few games. It takes too long to take my stylus out and select a few things. Most people won't need to worry about using the emulator, and most apps will likely be rewritten within a few months of the Pre's release, but if there's an emulator a few long time PalmOS users will feel confident that their highly used apps that they've been using for years will be usable for at least the immediately future.
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Old 01/20/2009, 01:01 PM   #3 (permalink)
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... but if there's an emulator a few long time PalmOS users will feel confident that their highly used apps that they've been using for years will be usable for at least the immediately future.
Again, this is assuming the emulator supports some sort of 5-way d-pad emulation, or else how will those apps be used? Not all apps are finger-friendly.
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Old 01/20/2009, 01:09 PM   #4 (permalink)
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No worries, if they are smart enough to come up with an emulator, then they are smart enough to come up with a “virtual" stylus.
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Old 01/20/2009, 01:16 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by pilot1000 View Post
Again, this is assuming the emulator supports some sort of 5-way d-pad emulation, or else how will those apps be used? Not all apps are finger-friendly.
If the emulator runs the Palm OS apps at 320x320 then it will leave 160 pixels of screen space below for an on-screen d-pad.

With the flush screen I think using your finger will be easier. I use my finger on my Centro and the only real problem I have is with the alerts since they pop up in the upper left hand corner.
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Old 01/20/2009, 01:47 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I use my finger on my Centro and the only real problem I have is with the alerts since they pop up in the upper left hand corner.
I used to have the same trouble but if you hold the middle button on the 5-way down it will bring up the alerts dialog without having to tap that very small icon.
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Old 01/20/2009, 01:51 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I used to have the same trouble but if you hold the middle button on the 5-way down it will bring up the alerts dialog without having to tap that very small icon.
Awesome. Thanks.
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Old 01/20/2009, 03:14 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I used to have the same trouble but if you hold the middle button on the 5-way down it will bring up the alerts dialog without having to tap that very small icon.
The Centro really is an excellent smartphone for one handed use.
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Old 01/20/2009, 03:44 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Perhaps one way to do a virtual stylus would be draw a pointer on the screen that's a quarter of an inch higher than your actual fingertip (which would be obscuring whatever it is underneath it). The stylus would follow the first point of contact, and a tap could be entered by tapping with a second finger anywhere (for two-handed use) or raising and re-tapping the "stylus finger" (for one-handed use).

You could customize the virtual stylus (e.g. a circle around the fingertip with spike extending out, the-Artist-Formerly-Known-as-Prince-uh-again's name, etc.)

A disadvantage would be you'd get confused if you used both fingertip and Virtual Stylus mode interchangeably. The main advantage would be the precision needed for Garnet-based apps. (I'm thinking the columns widths in ThinkDB, where I have to somehow find the 4-pixel long line between column headings, although my Treo 600 has a serious case of digitizer drift..)

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Old 01/20/2009, 03:47 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I've been thinking about this - why not tape an old Palm PDA to the back of your phone? no emulator lag and you'd get the full experience.

Last edited by CGK; 01/20/2009 at 04:03 PM.
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Old 01/20/2009, 03:59 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I used to have the same trouble but if you hold the middle button on the 5-way down it will bring up the alerts dialog without having to tap that very small icon.
wow! that's awesome! Thanks for the tip! :-) From all these years with the 700p and 755p, I had no idea about that trick.
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Old 01/20/2009, 04:04 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I've been thinking about this - why not tape an old Palm PDA to the back of your phone? no emulator lack and you'd get the full experience.
Good one. Somebody should have handed McNamee (http://www.precentral.net/new-featur...lendar-context) a roll of duck tape, strapped all his phones together, and said "I got yet convergence right there, buddy."

But seriously, I'm not especially attached to my stylus, but I can see the need for precision, and not just with Garnet apps. Imagine a drawing program - resolution is tighter (dpi) and fingers (not mine I hope) are getting fatter and not more transparent.
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Old 01/20/2009, 08:02 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Perhaps one way to do a virtual stylus would be draw a pointer on the screen that's a quarter of an inch higher than your actual fingertip (which would be obscuring whatever it is underneath it). The stylus would follow the first point of contact, and a tap could be entered by tapping with a second finger anywhere (for two-handed use) or raising and re-tapping the "stylus finger" (for one-handed use).

You could customize the virtual stylus (e.g. a circle around the fingertip with spike extending out, the-Artist-Formerly-Known-as-Prince-uh-again's name, etc.)

A disadvantage would be you'd get confused if you used both fingertip and Virtual Stylus mode interchangeably. The main advantage would be the precision needed for Garnet-based apps. (I'm thinking the columns widths in ThinkDB, where I have to somehow find the 4-pixel long line between column headings, although my Treo 600 has a serious case of digitizer drift..)

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Damned interesting idea.

I've gotta say, though, I think a stylus is necessary, regardless. When I need to highlight stuff, I need precision - emulator or not.
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Old 01/21/2009, 10:14 AM   #14 (permalink)
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this is pretty ugly, but you get the picture...

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Old 01/21/2009, 11:29 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Goyena View Post
Perhaps one way to do a virtual stylus would be draw a pointer on the screen that's a quarter of an inch higher than your actual fingertip (which would be obscuring whatever it is underneath it). The stylus would follow the first point of contact, and a tap could be entered by tapping with a second finger anywhere (for two-handed use) or raising and re-tapping the "stylus finger" (for one-handed use).

You could customize the virtual stylus (e.g. a circle around the fingertip with spike extending out, the-Artist-Formerly-Known-as-Prince-uh-again's name, etc.)

A disadvantage would be you'd get confused if you used both fingertip and Virtual Stylus mode interchangeably. The main advantage would be the precision needed for Garnet-based apps. (I'm thinking the columns widths in ThinkDB, where I have to somehow find the 4-pixel long line between column headings, although my Treo 600 has a serious case of digitizer drift..)

Comments on this?
I'm not 100% sure, but I think a problem here is that capacitive touchscreens have inherently lower touch sensor resolution than the resistive ones we're used to on PalmOS devices.

If so, you could draw a nice sharp indicator, but you wouldn't get any better resolution than the sensing surface has. The sharp point would jump from position to position at the resolution of the touchscreen sensor, not the pixel resolution of the display.
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Old 01/21/2009, 01:12 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Goyena View Post
Perhaps one way to do a virtual stylus would be draw a pointer on the screen that's a quarter of an inch higher than your actual fingertip (which would be obscuring whatever it is underneath it). The stylus would follow the first point of contact, and a tap could be entered by tapping with a second finger anywhere (for two-handed use) or raising and re-tapping the "stylus finger" (for one-handed use).

You could customize the virtual stylus (e.g. a circle around the fingertip with spike extending out, the-Artist-Formerly-Known-as-Prince-uh-again's name, etc.)

A disadvantage would be you'd get confused if you used both fingertip and Virtual Stylus mode interchangeably. The main advantage would be the precision needed for Garnet-based apps. (I'm thinking the columns widths in ThinkDB, where I have to somehow find the 4-pixel long line between column headings, although my Treo 600 has a serious case of digitizer drift..)

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Anyway play with the Blackberry Storm? They do this in their browser. The phone is annoying in so many ways, but I like the virtual pointer that they use in their web browser.
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Old 01/21/2009, 05:33 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I think part of the challenge would be making the pointer intelligent... or more complicated to use. After all, if the virtual stylus always points up, what happens when you want it to point to something at the bottom of the screen?

Since someone says the Storm uses a similar construct, how does Bb address the issue?
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Old 01/22/2009, 05:45 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I think I only have one app on my Treo that absolutely needs a stylus, and that's Scrabble. There's no way anyone could tap the tiny letters on the screen without one (be it physical or virtual).
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Old 01/22/2009, 07:01 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I think part of the challenge would be making the pointer intelligent... or more complicated to use. After all, if the virtual stylus always points up, what happens when you want it to point to something at the bottom of the screen?
The extended touchscreen or so-called gesture area could (I assume) still track your finger, although only the pointy part of the virtual stylus would be visible (depending on how low you go)
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Old 01/23/2009, 02:45 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Between playing with an iPhone, and what I've seen on the Pre, I don't think it would be that much of an issue. Except for programs with really small tap areas, the Pre's touch screen would probably be accurate enough. I've even played with it on my PalmOS based devices, and it can work reasonably well, on a screen primarily designed for a stylus and not a finger.

For the D-pad, it seems like either a lower part of the screen or even the area below the screen could do it just fine.

It also brings up the issue of programs designed to use the applications buttons...
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