The honeymoon isn't over, but I'm finding flaws in our relationship

The Pre is a wonderful device, but I question some of the design decisions in the area of the keyboard. Pre didn't hit the bullseye, but it got very close.

Michael Gaines
3 min read
WebOS update
When I got the Palm Pre, it was loaded with WebOS 1.0.2, and the Updater app told me that 1.0.4 was available. I'm always very leery about firmware updates since you always hear stories about how someone bricked their device by doing a simple firmware update. All it takes is the update to glitch and the device won't know how to boot properly.

Either way, I updated the phone and it went very smoothly. There weren't any changes worth noting here, but being up to date sometimes has features you don't stumble across until later. If I find any, I'll report them here.

GPS capabilities
In the few days since I got my Palm Pre, it's been surprising me a lot with the features it has in it. One of the features I always wanted in a phone was GPS ability since it seemed like a logical addition to cell phones years ago. The Pre has GPS built in, and it works very well.

The Pre has two GPS-based apps: Google maps and Sprint Navigation. Since I was familiar with Google maps, I fired it up on the way to work in the morning and saw if it could track my position as I drove. Unfortunately, it just told me the position where I started and didn't follow me. I quit out of that app and launched Sprint Navigator. That app followed me as I drove to work, and was very accurate in showing my position in five second intervals. Next time I drive I'll have to see if it has turn-by-turn navigation.

I've become rather enamored with running several apps at once. I wasn't sure if I'd care about it or not, but putting an app aside for use later while I work in another app really has its advantages. If you have a device that only runs one app at a time, every time you launch the app it has to reload all the data, and depending on your cell plan and how often you use your phone for data, that could eat up your quota. With the app running in the background, it only grabs the initial data once, and updates as needed.

Keyboard usability
I tried using the Pre for doing notetaking using the Memos application. I thought I could get used to using the little keyboard, but I found myself getting more and more frustrated with it. One of the biggest annoyances is how the Return and Backspace keys are so close to each other. Many times I meant to press Backspace, only to enter the string in because I'd accidentally hit Return. The same goes for 'A' and 'S' since my finger wants to press 'A', but always seems to press 'S'. Also, since you need to slide the Pre open to type, it adds weight to the top of it, and when you type the pushing of the keys on the bottom wiggles the whole device since the center of gravity is now a little higher. I had to learn where to position my fingers behind the unit so it wouldn't shake so much while typing. I think an on-screen keyboard would be a serious advantage on this device.

I keep finding new, fun things to do with the Pre. I found how to install ringtones and wallpapers on it, which I'll describe next time.