App Review: StyleTap Platform for Android 79
Editor's Note: Yes, this is for Android, no it won't work on your webOS device. But there are still some Palm OS users out there - this is for them.
Those of us who have been PDA and smartphone users for enough years likely spent at least some time in the PalmOS world. For me, that lasted from 1996 and my first Pilot 1000 through the TX I used until getting my Palm Pre in 2009, an almost 13-year run. Over that time, I accumulated a large number of applications, and PalmOS-formatted files, that have been all but unusable since I left the platform behind, especially after MotionApps dropped support for the PalmOS emulator Classic that shipped with the initial webOS devices. While most features and programs from PalmOS are available in more modern operating systems, a few are either no longer supported, or just not as well-designed as they were for PalmOS, and there are also some legacy applications (particularly custom business apps) that are still in use and needed in the real world.
In response, StyleTap has long offered its eponymous PalmOS emulator platform, which allows installation and running of PalmOS applications on mobile devices including Windows Mobile, Symbian OS, iOS and now Android 2.0 or later with StyleTap Platform for Android. Unfortunately, the application (including both desktop and device components) costs a whopping $49.95, the same price StyleTap charges for its other platforms, putting it out of range of most casual or nostalgic users. With my irony meter at 11, I downloaded and installed the demo to my brand-new Verizon Samsung Galaxy S III, to which I had already installed Access’ Graffiti (another PalmOS legacy that remains among the fastest and best handwriting recognition and text entry methods around). Note that, while StyleTap offers a downloadable installer for Windows which sets up the app installation program and detects an Android device connected in either USB media device (MTP) or camera (PTP) mode, it is unable (at least as yet) to install the emulator itself to the device. To do that, I had to manually download the .apk, move it to my GSIII via USB connection, and install it myself.
The emulator shows what appears to be a 320x320 PalmOS screen, accompanied by a 4-way navigation panel with center select button, Quit and Menu buttons (the phone’s Menu button also works to trigger the PalmOS menus, as does tapping on them), a keyboard icon that brings up the phone’s default text entry method in the unused area below the bottom of the app’s display, and four function buttons, labeled F1 through F4, whose purpose is unclear. The program offers a few display preference choices (icon size, heading, color depth), but unfortunately not the 320x480 screen size available on the Palm TX and LifeDrive PDAs.
In my testing, the application seemed very solid (unsurprising given that StyleTap has been offering PalmOS emulators for more than 10 years), and crashed only when I tried running the Penticon Hebrew emulator and the TCPMP media player, which called specific memory locations. Other apps, from Freecell to Rally 1000 (a Mille Bornes clone) to the Game Boy emulator Liberty, work fine. Even Kinoma Player 3 works well, a useful thing for those of us who have old family videos saved only in Kinoma PDB format and unreadable by any other program.
Because StyleTap uses its own proprietary installer rather than Palm’s old HotSync Manager (which was used by MotionApps’ Classic), none of the existing HotSync conduits works, so those PalmOS applications which rely on desktop synchronization do not work. For example, Audible Player can be manually installed through StyleTap, but won’t run properly, nor will its desktop application detect a connected device to install audiobooks. Nor do those that access the (nonexistent) infrared port for beaming, such as NoviiRemote. Still, if you still have backups of your PalmOS applications and files, are able to live with the compromises and manual installation, and the price is not a stopper, StyleTap Platform for Android can be a useful addition to your Android device.