23 Things Palm Could Improve By Software

23 Things Palm Could Improve By Software

I love the Palm Pre. I’ve had it for just over a month, and it’s probably the best phone I’ve ever owned. But there are some nagging shortcomings and idiosyncrasies I think they could theoretically fix easily, by software.

Advanced Synergy Account Sync Features
Synergy is an undoubtedly cool feature. What isn’t so cool are all the garbage contacts that end up on your phone as a result of syncing Gmail, Facebook and AIM. There has to be a way to filter out contacts via grouping. And there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to manually delete contacts.[imgclear]

Merely including Cut/Copy/Paste isn’t good enough, Palm. And your implementation on the Pre is laughable (especially compared to the iPhone). As if requiring a keyboard macro to highlight text wasn’t ridiculous enough, highlighting text on this phone isn’t the easiest thing in the world. And I also want to be able to Cut and Copy any text I want—not just the stuff in text entry fields.[imgclear]

How about a long press next to the desired text to activate the copy mode, and more responsive highlighting as I drag my finger (is that too much to ask?). However, I do like the feature where you hold your finger on the gesture area, then hit x, c or v to execute the cut/copy/paste, even if an on screen element would be easier.[imgclear]

Customisable Sounds
This isn’t really THAT big of a deal, but some people like to customise their phones to the nines. I’m sure Palm kept system sounds on lockdown for UX purposes, but is it really that big of a deal? Some people just want to hear the Dragonzord flute jingle everytime they get a text.[imgclear]

Palm’s Gmail app is pretty good for the most part, but confusing navigation elements (like only being able to get back to the inbox/main screen via gesture bar), the lack of threaded emails and the inability to search through your mail leaves it spinning its wheels second rate gmail client—much like the iPhone’s mail app. Also, support for hosted Gmail accounts would be nice as well. It’s not that hard. And speaking of search, that brings me to my next point…[imgclear]

Universal Search
The framework for Universal Search is fine—start typing from the home screen, and contacts, apps and Google results begin to populate—but what about the contents of text messages/chat transcripts/emails, media files and even bookmarked sites? Also, an option to search Facebook would also be amazing. Just putting that out there.[imgclear]

I’m glad I can connect to AIM, Gtalk and SMS and manage them all from the same screen. That said, there are times I want to be able to log out of just one service and not all of them. Palm seems to think otherwise and its annoying. Support for other services, like MSN and Facebook chat, would also be cool. But I wouldn’t call them essential quite yet.[imgclear]

Hardware Access for Apps
The Mojo SDK is disappointing to say the least. Yes, the initial apps are impressive for using little more than web standards, but they still can’t compete with native ones that have hardware access (for the time being at least).[imgclear]

Facebook App
Using Facebook in the WebOS browser sucks. End of story. I want a standalone app. With camera access. Will not accept anything less.[imgclear]

In-Browser PDF Handling
Palm has a handy dandy PDF reader included with WebOS that lets you read the files. But you know what happens when you click a PDF link in a browser? Nothing. It won’t even download the file onto your Phone. It just says it can’t open it. If it’s too much to switch over to the PDF app from the browser, downloading the file should at least be an option.[imgclear]

On-Screen Cursor and Text Entry Fields One of the few features of WebOS that’s downright unpolished is the handling of text entry fields. Using the screen tap or the up arrow key+drag to move the cursor around a chunk of text isn’t terrible, but it just feels like it could be better. I’m sure Apple has all sorts of patents out on that magnifying glass feature, but Palm has to be able to think of something similar.

Secondly, if you tap on a text entry field, it neither launches into a subscreen, nor zooms in one bit. If you’re zoomed out, and then tap on an entry field, you have to manually zoom in. There are worse things a mobile OS could screw up, but it’s the little things done right that also make an OS great.[imgclear]

GPS Toggling From the Home Screen
Do any smartphone power users leave their GPS on all the time? I’m guessing no. That’s why Palm needs to make it quicker and easier to turn GPS on/off. Having to go into Launcher, then over to Location Services utility, then toggling it off requires way more thought/navigation than necessary. Why not just have a GPS on/off on the homescreen menu where you deal with wi-fi and Bluetooth?[imgclear]

Center Button
I respect the simple functionality of the centre button. It pops you in and out of apps quickly. But I feel like it can do more. It would have seemed more intuitive to have that turn on/wake the phone from sleep instead of adding another, superfluous button on the top right corner. Also, I’d rather use that as my camera shutter button than having a chunk of my screen covered up while taking pictures.[imgclear]

Photo Uploads
Photo uploading is totally downplayed on this phone. Limited to just uploading a photo at a time to a service at a time, when you do upload photos, you can’t tag or add captions for any of them using the Pre. Oh, and there’s no Flickr support—just Facebook and Photobucket. SERIOUS?![imgclear]

Music Player
I’m not expecting the Pre’s music and media UI to be the second coming of the iPod by any means (and as it stands now, it actually comes pretty close) But having the option to scrub through a track is something that’s extremely basic, and convenient when you’re listening to a mix or podcast that’s in a single MP3. Having something to display track progress/overall time would be nice too.[imgclear]

Downloads From Browser
Having the ability to download selected files to a save folder is not so much something that Palm dropped the ball on, so much as it would be nice to have. MP3s currently stream, but you can’t save them. Images can only be saved when they’re attached to email. If music, pics and documents could be dispatched to an appropriate spot on the phone, Palm would have another plus over the iPhone. And if they threw video into that list, they’d make me swoon.[imgclear]

Amazon Store
WebOS only lets you download MP3s when you’re connected via wi-fi. Read that again. It’s absolutely ridiculous and should be fixed ASAP.[imgclear]

USB Connectivity
The USB handling on the Pre goes beyond inconvenient/annoying/unpolished and is just flat out bad. When you plug your Pre into a computer or any other device that lets you access its sync/mass storage mode, the cellular radio shuts down and the rest of the phone becomes inaccessible. I don’t know of any other smartphone (let alone mobile phone) that does this and barring some highly technical excuse, it’s unforgivable.

Let me use my phone while syncing/transferring data. It’d also be nice if the phone had the ability to properly interface with car stereo’s via USB, but that’s of lesser concern.[imgclear]

Better Integrated Twitter
Tweed is a decent enough Twitter client, but having OS-level Twitter integration would be ideal. As it stands now, Tweed’s notifications are laggy at best and broken at worst, only popping up while the app is running (sometimes hours late). And there’s no sort of TwitPic functionality, which just seems silly. Surely you can do better, Palm.[imgclear]

Video Recording
Palm has vaguely insinuated video recording is coming in the future. Great. I’m sure they want to get their software and battery optimisation right before dropping video recording on the general public, but at the very least, how about an update guys?[imgclear]

On-Screen Keyboard
The hardware keyboard really isn’t bad by any means. It’s not the most spacious keyboard in the world, but I have no major problems with it. That said, there are times you want to enter some text quickly without having to slide open the keyboard.[imgclear]

For example, while typing in a URL in landscape mode. How about an onscreen keyboard to use while the keyboard is hidden. And knowing that there’s limited real estate to work with in portrait mode, I’d even be up for one that only pops up landscape style.[imgclear]

Non-iTunes MP3 Playlist Support
Now that Apple hit the kill switch on the Pre’s ability to sync with iTunes, it’s time for Palm to start thinking of advanced options in a more general manner. One of these is supporting playlists across the board—not just from iTunes.[imgclear]

LED Flashlight
A simple app that would allow the led flash on back to be used as a light would be a nice little utility. Eh, eh?[imgclear]

The whole vertical+horizontal scrolling of Launcher is something of a UI design fail. Palm should scrap the vertical scrolling and just create more screens that users can flick through. Palm should know they don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to every single aspect of WebOS.