One of the more unique features about the Palm Pre is it’s WebOS user interface. It’s a huge departure from Palm’s more well-known Garnet OS that was first introduced in the 20th Century. It’s also quite different from the Windows Mobile OS that Palm has been shipping on its high-end phones lately. The coolest thing about the WebOS is its task switching and application closing interface (task manager). For years, Palm has been adamant that people don’t need task management on their PDA/Phones and should only be allowed to use one program at a time. Apple has also inherited this philosophy with their iPhone. Luckily, Palm has abandoned that and one-upped all other multi-tasking smartphones with an awesome task management interface.
If you turn on the “Advanced Gesture” support in the Screen & Lock control panel, you can switch applications with a full-length swipe in the gesture area. You can also “minimize” applications with a short upward gesture, while a long upward gesture & hold will reveal the wavey 4-application quick-launch icons. Sliding side to side will select one of your 4 quick-launch apps and releasing your finger will launch it. This motion is actually very easy to perform with one hand. With just one motion of the thumb, you can quickly launch any of those 4 programs.
You can compare these 4 bottom row quick-launch application icons to the customizable hardware buttons on the Palm Treo Pro. Both methods give you one-stop access to those favorite applications. The Pre’s method is a bit more fluid and elegant with design simplicity, but it really requires a more of your attention since with the Treo Pro’s method, those hardware buttons can be felt with the fingers.
The Treo Pro also has its most recent programs all listed at the top of the start menu, which is great for switching between tasks, but it’s not nearly as cool and easy-to-use as the Palm Pre’s method. Unfortunately, if you’ve seen some of the early Windows Mobile 6.5 builds, Microsoft has removed the recent applications listing completely, thus making multi-tasking much more difficult as opposed to easier.
The Palm Pre’s keyboard search capability on the home screen is excellent. It’s just like Windows Vista’s Start menu. You type the name of what you’re looking for, the first possible match is automatically selected, hit Enter and the application launches. Perfect! Keyboard accessibility on Windows Mobile is more difficult since you have to press the Start Menu key, then look at the keyboard mnemonics to find the underlined letter of the application you want, then press that, or press “P” to access more programs, and type the first letter of the program you want to jump to that area in the list It’s much more complicated, but at least it’s still keyboard accessible. Unfortunately again, in Windows Mobile 6.5 Pro, this capability of finding and launching programs using the keyboard has been removed from the Start menu.
Once you launch a program, however, Windows Mobile still has the upper hand for keyboard accessibility. The Treo Pro can easily toggle to different fields in a form, open menus, and activate commands all without taking your hands off the keyboard and touching the screen. The Palm Pre on the other hand requires a lot more hand and finger movement, which can get to be very annoying and tiresome.