Dear Palm: What I'd like in the next update | webOS Nation

Dear Palm: What I'd like in the next update

by Derek Kessler Fri, 21 Aug 2009 4:31 pm EDT

Palm Pre

We know that webOS and the Palm Pre are 1.0 1.1 products, so we’re going to cut you some slack for now. But that slack is starting to run out, and looking at the competition there are some areas where I think you could improve the Pre to both catch up to and leap frog over iPhone and BlackBerry and Android. So here’s what I'd like to see in the way of software updates before that slack runs out and the real complaining starts.

My list is after the break, and it’s by no means comprehensive. Feel free to sound off in the comments if there’s something you think should be added in!

Oh, and Palm, this isn't an ultimatum or anything. It's a wishlist. Of stuff I want. So consider it a shopping list, and you're the grocery store. Some things we can do without, but others are staple items that we need to get through the week, and if you don't have it, we might have to go across town to the other grocery to get it. After a while, that can get kind of old and we might consider just going to the other store. We don't want to, as it's simply not as nice, but they have a lot of what we need.

Alert Tones. I can only take so much of “da-ding” before I lose my mind wondering if it’s an email or a text message or a low battery alert or... we need the option to change these tones. And not just “pick a new alert tone,” no, the ability to pick different tones for different alerts. And like we can assign specific ringtones to individual callers, the option to assign a tone to an email account (X for Gmail, Y for Exchange, etc) would be great. To a specific contact, even better.

App Catalog. As your  posting of the Mojo SDK and anticipated expansion of the App Catalog would seem to indicate, you’re on your way to getting a full-on developer community going. That’s all well and good, but your application store needs some serious work. First off is speed: while once up it works just fine, the load time is interminably long for something that is more or less just a specialized web browser. Second is content: we seriously need more applications. Yes there's side-loading homebrew fun, but for 90% of your users the App Catalog is going to be their primary source of apps.

Autocorrection Software. While I do really like having a physical keypad, there’s something to be said for a robust autocorrection database. And that something to be said is, "Hey, that's kind of cool."

Cut, Copy, and Paste. It took Apple a while to get it working, but I’ve got to admit, they got it right. We need the ability to copy uneditable text, i.e. a website. Or a received text message. Simply put, this half-measure implementation of cut, copy, and paste in webOS isn’t going to cut it for long (pun only partly intended).

Backup. Either I need an option to back up my applications and data on my computer, or Palm Backup needs to be updated such that when I have to reset/replace my phone I don’t have to spend half an hour reconfiguring all the settings that were lost. That means contact link associations, calendar colors, and third-party application settings. You don’t need to back up everything (like photos and music), but it won’t take a huge server investment on your part to build a more robust back-up solution.

Battery Life. Simply put, it’s not good enough. My Pre - with a Seidio extended battery – still barely makes it through a long day on the road. There are only so many things I can turn off before it stops being useful.

Bluetooth. OBEX. Now. Don’t be all authoritarian on us and not let us send our contact information or files over Bluetooth. This is a smartphone that you want people to use for business things. Like actually exchanging contact information over something other than Facebook. Beside that, OBEX support would let me easily transfer files and the like without hassling with trying to connect to a computer with WiFi.

Calendar Attendees. Roger McNamee said our Pre would be able to track our location and alert meeting attendees that we were running late. While that would be fantastic, we aren’t expecting that option to appear any time soon, perhaps we can start down that path by giving us the option to add calendar appointment attendees.

Camera Options. If my Treo 650 could do it, then my Pre should be able to do it, no? We need the ability to adjust resolution of photos, as well as color options (the old standbys of sepia and black-and-white and the like). If you want to give us some more in-depth options, like white balance and saturation adjustment, or even the ability to adjust just how much post-processing the awesome camera chip does, that’d be fine too.

Context Linking. This is a slightly more advanced request, but this is also a modern smartphone with a powerful operating system. If I enter a phone number, address, or email in a note or memo, the phone needs to notice what it is and give me options to call/text, map, or email with that data.

Email Formatting. This is a two-fold update. One: dark blue is classy and all, but I like basic black as the default. Two: this screwy reply/forward formatting has got to end. When I forward an email to a colleague, I want them to get the same email that I got.

Email Sort. While full email search should be built into Universal Search, there are some search options that need to be built into the email application. Let me sort by more than just date and flagged - how about the option to see just unread messages, or messages from Joe?

External Notifications. If I walk away from my phone and come back a while later and missed a call, plus four emails and two text messages, I have no way of knowing until I turn the phone on. Our enterprising homebrew developer community has figured out how to hack the center button light so that it lights up on new alerts, so we know it won’t be that hard to implement.

Google Maps. It works on all manner of other devices, so it’s time to add Street View and Latitude features to the webOS version of Google Maps. Additionally, transit and pedestrian mapping options would certainly be nice. And as webOS apps are supposed to be saving all the time, let Google Maps pick up right where it left off after closing the card. It’s one of those things to make it just that much faster.

Landscape Mode. It’s nice and all to have it in the browser, but it’s time to start adding landscape mode to more applications, like email, memos, and Doc and PDF View. Also, I need to be able to easily access menus while sideways, what use is an accelerometer-enabled phone if it's handicapped when rotated?

Launcher. We know it can be done, so just flip the switch and let us to add more launcher pages and be done with it.

IM Clients. The framework is there, it’s time to flip the switch and give us more than AIM and Google Talk. Give us Windows Live and Yahoo to start, and then some of the more obscure options like ICQ and Facebook chat.

Media Sync. Apple has taken their ball and gone home, and while a cat-and-mouse game of fixing and breaking iTunes synchronization certainly is fun, especially for us at PreCentral, we’re don't want to have to deal with our media synchronization abilities being broken and fixed all the time. So build in some more options for how we sync our media, or even just build your own media sync plugin for all variety of programs. On that same note, it's a little silly that iTunes is the only way to transfer a playlist to my phone - there's no reason this shouldn't work over USB too.

Music Player. First off we need the option to remember playback locations, especially for podcasts and audiobooks. Secondly, in that same vein, we need the option to scrub along the playback slider (like it’s actually a slider) to scrub through a song.

Notifications. Before I say this, I want to say that the notification bar is absolutely fantastic. It’s one of webOS’s best features, in my not so humble opinion. But... it doesn’t work in landscape. We don’t need a persistent landscape notification bar, but when I get an email while browsing in landscape mode, all I get is a chime and buzz. Add in a landscape pop-up bar just to tell me what happened (and then it can go away) and we’ll be set.

Phone As Modem. You said it was going to work at launch, and we know it can work, but Sprint clearly has put the kibosh on the official solution we know you can implement. Talk to them, we’ll pay if you at least give us the choice. That's more money for Sprint, and we know they’d like that. We need Bluetooth and USB solutions, and if you can get us WiFi hot-spot-ish capabilities, you might just get a big hug from yours truly.

Scroll Bar. The inertial flick scrolling is nice and all, but sometimes I have a really long webpage or list and repeatedly flicking and flicking and flicking gets rather irritating. A controllable scroll bar would do wonders for this qualm. It doesn’t even have to be persistent like the Palm OS of old, in fact I’d prefer it not. Here’s an example: I flick to start scrolling and a translucent scroll bar appears, then I can grab onto it and slide all the way down the page to where I want to be. When I release, it fades away. Magic, no?

Sprint Navigation. It’s nice that I can map a contact’s address directly from their contact entry, but when you have the actually-pretty-decent Sprint Navigation application included, why on Earth can’t I send the address over there for real navigation? Same goes for Calendar event locations.

Syncing Tasks/Memos. Being able to sync my tasks with Exchange is nice and all, if I have an Exchange account. But what of us that don’t? Maybe Google Tasks would be a good option, especially now that it’s out of beta. Additionally, applications like Memos need some sort of syncronization option for PC-based editing, even if that has to be through my Palm Profile.

Text Messages. Forwarding. Really.

Undo. This goes along with the upgraded cut, copy, and paste request. There are times when I hit delete and utter expletives at my idiocy. With a simple undo command I’d live a life with less profanity.

Universal Search. Make. It. Universal. Applications, contacts, and the web are fun and all, but you guys in Sunnyvale need to make it truly universal. I should be able to search my emails and memos and tasks. And if you really want to go wild and crazy, allow third-party applications to join the search mix. All of this information of course means we’re going to need some Universal Search options to filter and order things the way we need them.

Video Recording. It took Apple two years to get it on the iPhone. We don’t necessarily need fancy video editing tools (but we won’t complain if we get them), but the hardware is more than capable of supporting video recording.

Virtual Keyboard. At least for landscape mode. Don’t get me wrong, I love the physical keyboard, but I like options.

Visual Voicemail. Sprint licensed visual voicemail to work on the Samsung Instinct, so it’s time to get them to do it for the Pre. I don’t want to use the excuse of “the iPhone has it,” but it does. So does the BlackBerry Storm.

So there you have it, my extra fun list of what I'd like in webOS 1.1.1 (or 1.2... or 2.0 *sigh*). Of course, I'm not the only one who wants updates - I know you all want it too. So let's hear it - what do you want in future updates?

Thanks to everybody in the Comprehensive List of Fixes, New Features, and Workarounds thread!