Palm Pre Video Tours and a Few Thoughts

January 9th, 2009

Gizmodo has several video demonstrations of the Palm Pre. The best to watch is the video from the presentation itself, which is the third video down.

The Pre looks like a great phone — the “cards” paradigm for open applications is a great solution to one of the iPhone’s most annoying aspects, switching between applications. I am not sure, though, if a mainstream audience will be able to grasp the concept, and especially the gestures which open the launcher or switch applications.

My favorite aspect is how it handles notifications. It is similar to Android’s notifications, in that they appear at the edge of the screen and can be accessed with a tap or drag, but the Pre extends the concept. When the user receive a calendar notification, the Pre does something smart: it moves whatever they are working on up the screen, and uses the space to see the calendar item, dismiss or snooze it, or even send an email to everyone involved in the event.

I love that for two reasons. First, by displaying notifications at the bottom of the screen without taking focus, the user can continue working on whatever they were doing. On the iPhone, this simply isn’t possible; if the user receives a text message, an alert pops up in the center of the screen and takes focus. The user is forced to deal with it which, many times, isn’t what they want to do.

Second, using the bottom of the screen is a wonderful use of a large screen. It stays out of the way, ready for the user when they are ready to deal with it. This is how statuses should be done on the iPhone, too, and the Pre makes the iPhone’s notifications look archaic.

I love the integrated nature of the Pre. Instant messages and SMS texts are threaded together in the same messaging application, and the notifications from these services all appear in the same status area. This is also how it should be; there is no reason to have a separate instant messaging application which is unconnected from the OS, as it is on the iPhone. If a friend is on AIM, then when I send a message to them, the phone should just do the right thing and send an IM.

Gruber wrote in his Macworld 2009 predictions that he thinks the next update to the iPhone OS will be 3.0, not 2.3. I hope so — in some important ways, the iPhone is falling behind Android and, now, the Palm Pre.