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Treo Software | iPhone(y) UI Ready For Your Treo Now

As usual it didn’t take long for a dedicated and resourceful developer to lightheartedly respond to Apple’s ‘attack’ on our Treo smartphone (see Palm Treo 680 vs. Apple iPhone). 

Just for fun, SimToGo who is also well known for his Lunar Lander Simulator decided to take the iphone launcher graphics and build his own Treo launcher application around it – aptly and amusingly naming it iPhony.

iPhony pictured above allows you to map 12 on-screen buttons to twelve applications (above right + below) and to launch them by either pressing the icon on the touchscreen or by using your 5Way buttons.  However, you’ll quickly realize that because most of these applications are already mapped to the dedicated keys on your Treo keyboard the icons may be pretty but not particularly helpful.

As I mentioned earlier, iPhony was not developed as a serious application but simply to demonstrate that the look & feel of the iPhone could be very easily replicated on the Treo – something which it does very well.

Having said this, as I played around with iPhony I began to wonder about what my experience would be like if I were to be using the touchscreen-only iPhone compared to my touchscreen+keyboard Treo.

Whereas the iPhone has only one ‘Home’ button (above right) the Treo has four dedicated buttons which can individually launch up to seven applications (four with a simple Press and three others with Option+Press) + one side button for another application + 27 keyboard keys to launch any of your Favorites applications anywhere (using Press+Hold).  That’s a total of 32 functions/applications which can be launched at the press of a single button on the Treo.


In the image above, I’ve outlined my most frequently used applications which I can easily launch by either using a single Press (Phone, Calendar, Email, Applications and Music) or Option+Press (Blazer browser, Memos, Messaging) and Press+Hold (Recent Apps – on the Treo 680).

Additionally, I also have another dozen applications or functions (Speed Dial, SMS, Email or Web Link) that I have mapped out to individual keys – this is called a Quick Key and can be found via the Favorites preferences.

The point that I’m trying to make here is to highlight the relative speed and ease of use of the Treo’s keyboard+touchscreen combination compared to the iPhone’s touchscreen-only one.  It’s simply a fact that launching your applications via a dedicated button is significantly faster than having to press the iPhone’s ‘Home’ button every time you want to start a new program.

For example, if I quickly wanted to cycle through all nine applications above on my Treo all I would need to do is to directly and consecutively press the dedicated buttons while on the iPhone I would have to add a ‘Home’ button press every time.  Just imagine if you stopped being able to use the buttons on your Treo tomorrow and had to press Applications then scroll with your finger on the touchscreen every time you wanted to launch a program… I personally think that it would drive me nuts.

I’m sure that I’m only touching the tip of the iceberg when it comes to comparing the Treo touchscreen+keyboard versus the iPhone’s touchscreen-only functionalities (and I’m not even going to start with keyboard-only devices such as the Moto Q for example) but for quickly launching applications (among many other things) I believe that our Treo will continue to come out on top – nothing phoney about that.

Treonauts are always ready for a debate

Posted by Andrew on January 15, 2007 at 06:42 AM

Treo Software | Utilities

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by Terry | Jan 15, 2007 7:31:43 AM

You don't get it. You think by pressing three different buttons to change the function of a key is SIMPLE? Look at your schematic! IHow long will it take me to memorize it, and what happens if I don't use a function for a week. I'll have to look up in the manula to see what the magic buttons are.

Apple has made each screen unique. All of the relevant buttons CHANGE with each screen. You only have the 4 or 5 buttons that are relevent visible on each screen.

Apple simplified the process. You just made it harder.

by zetsurin | Jan 15, 2007 8:45:04 AM

I am one of the people who originally criticised your iPhone vs Treo 680 comparison. However, upon learning that the iPhone can a) only be purchased on contract and b) won't allow 3rd party apps to be installed, I am happy to retract my criticism.

However, my criticism of palm for lack of innovation still stands. Until they offer a wifi solution for the Palm platform they have forever lost me as a customer.

by don smith | Jan 15, 2007 9:14:40 AM

Anyone willing to spend this much time and money on a smart phone will likely buy an iPhone when they come out. Unless, of course your a Treo "enthusiast" which means you have an an unnatural relationship with a single device for some un-know reason of your own. The only hope for that flaccid company Palm is to work VERY hard, Very quickly if the don't want to find themselves being surrounded by "enthusiast" rather than real end uses.

by Andrew Scott | Jan 15, 2007 9:44:23 AM

Apart from my original Treo (180g) I've always known about the ability to map an app to one of the qwerty keys. I've tried it a few times over the years and it has never stuck for me. Perhaps I have more of a visual memory but I find it takes too much effort for me memorise associations with keys or else there are too many conflicts (c is for camera, calendar or clock?). I still use Option+Press to gain access to three additional favourite apps but I frequently press the wrong key because the associations are arbitrary.

I've long thought the Treo to be the best (or least bad!) smartphone out there in terms of interface but I can't wait to see some fresh innovation in the marketplace. Roll on iPhone.

by Steve Grevemeyer | Jan 15, 2007 10:01:59 AM

I think it's you who don't get it. No matter how wonderful a job Apple does -- it is likely to be easily emulated by a developer.

Apple has decided not to allow developers access. So the developer who wants hit iPhone to look like a Palm (Who cares why...) is S O L.

It isn't about style. Its about functionality and the ability for the device to adapt to what the user needs/wants.

The point for this article wasn't that Apples touchscreen was bad -- it was the a physical keyboard is "better" in that it allow OPTIONS. I don't care if you never map a single application -- some people DO.

by Henry Keiluhn | Jan 15, 2007 10:19:41 AM

Quick question, you mentioned that the 680 was more a consumer not business solution. Why?


by Borszczuk | Jan 15, 2007 10:43:53 AM

As for the iPhony - maybe not a killer app, but I wanted to use it for a while. DON'T DO THIS. Any attempt to configure iPhony for more than 5 seconds may cause unreversible brain damages and endless blood and human flesh hunger... of this one moronic person who wrote that configuration form. With app list not sorted, databases (not just apps) listed and no ROM apps shown (at least on T650). WTF?!

by Leathernuts | Jan 15, 2007 10:57:38 AM

Don't bust on Andrew for taking the time to make a comparison. He's doing for our benifit. He never said one was better than the other( Thats going to be personal preference) but that the Treo owner don't have to feel like we were short changed, that we have the options as well. I downloaded and played with iphony last night. I personally love the look of it, but when it comes down to it, I can do everything with my hard button, so its really just something new to look at right now. Now if Palm ever gave us a treo with more screen and less buttons, than iphony would be ideal IMO.

by Mario Medina | Jan 15, 2007 10:58:45 AM

Personally, I would LOVE to see iPhony turned into a full-fledged application to use as a launcher/home page. While some may think it's easier to use dedicated buttons, I find that this visual interface is much simpler....

As a PC and Treo owner, I will somewhat begrudginly admit that Apple has consistently taken existing processes/hardware/applications (the MP3 player, for example) and shown other companies that it's all about ease of interface.

I work with software designers at my job, and I see how easy it is to design software that's cumbersome and then to say that the user who doesn't get it right away is an idiot. Well, I guess I'm an idiot, because I immediately get the interface of the iPod, and the iPhone, and the iPhony...and guess what? So does 75% of the MP3 marketplace!

It's all about keeping it simple...so SimToGo, make it happen! Take it beyond concept, and I'll bet you'll have lots of buyers.

by eUNIX | Jan 15, 2007 11:05:10 AM

I applaud the new Apple iPhone and I for one will be getting one after they come out and the 1st gen bugs are exposed.

I can not speak for the Palm OS based Treo Owners but I have the 700W and I don't see what is so funny about your article. Apple appears to have a good and well thought out product. Palm is screwing the pooch with so many versions of the Treo that it becomes a difficult choice of which machine to buy. In regards to the 700w/wx versions, I am not as happy as I should be with the product. The screen is small, the lack of memory is down right pathetic and Palm's refusal to add WiFi can be considered down right criminal!

I purchased the 700w to replace my aged iPaq h5555 but I can not retire it because the screen on the TREO is so small that I would rather have a larger machine that I can comfortably see my information.

Most browser pages are difficult to view or do not display properly. The keyboard buttons need to be larger and more memory needs to be added to the machine.

I love the form factor and the fact that they did not put the stripped down version of WM5 (like the Q or the BlackJack) is definitely a plus.

I feel that the phone application is flawed on the W because it is more intuitive to have the dialer pad as the primary application instead of the Today Screen. With the Today Screen you have to navigate to get to the dial pad or use the tiny tiny number buttons in the search bar. An actual MUTE button would also be nice instead of the menue driven option.

I like my Treo for all of the things that It does well but if Safari (iPhone) can let me view full web pages, then I would gladly trade it in.

The iPhone is not perfect because Apple will not deploy WiFi to facilitate IP Telephony but it is impressive enough for me to be willing to carry two phones. The iPhone for personal and the Treo for business and Outlook/MS Exchange integration.

I just didn't think your article had any humor for those of us who have the 700w/wx versions of the phone because for the money that it cost, the phone still needs a lot of work and design changes.

Why can't they put a nice sized keyboard like the blackberry (oh I do miss my old 950). It had a nice tactile feel and people used it so much that it became known as "crackberry". Why can't we have a larger screen with higher resolution so that web pages displayed better. The speed of the machine could be better and even with a 1G SD card, I can barely run pocket informant and Sprite Backup. There are a couple of other apps that I would like to run but the lack of memory prevents it.

I would like to add GPS and/or the SD WiFi but I would have to sacrafice my additional memory. (Hint Hint - The machine needs two SD slots. (A sled where I could add CF and/or PCMCIA would be very nice and I could give my h5555 away to someone!)

Palm could have also left the camera off of the unit also because the quality of the photos is not good and tends to be dark.

Just a few things to think about.


by TGP | Jan 15, 2007 11:10:25 AM

Terry hit the nail on the head, sorry Steve. Apple is simplifying matters for consumers. If that doesn't cut it for a few of you who enjoy memorizing 32 application keyboard shortcuts, then by all means don't buy the iPhone. That's the beauty of this market based system I guess. The Treo is NOT for everyone, and neither is the iPhone. That said, I think the iPhone will blow it out of the water. As a long time Treo enthusiast, I will be switching. Then I won't have to put up with bizarre (dare I use the word "dilusional"? :) articles like this anymore.

by Hal Gumbert | Jan 15, 2007 11:26:25 AM

It's all about the apps. The iPhone will have apps that look fantastic and work well too. On the other hand, I love my Palm, but the apps look old, most work well, but not very 'Apple like'.

As for iPhony, I love it. It's much more friendly than the default launcher. If a few things were added, it would be my primary launcher. I'd like to see the following:
- Date and Time
- Signal Strength
- Battery Level
- Number of Messages
- 50 or so 'key only' buttons so I can assign keys to launch other apps. For instance, I've assigned FileMaker Mobile to the Calendar button, but I'd also like to press and hold the 'F' key on the keyboard to launch it. I'd also like to assign the 'S' key to Hotsync, but not use a visual button.

Does anyone know how to assign GMail to the Mail button?

by JOE | Jan 15, 2007 11:33:59 AM

imitation is the sincerest from of flattery ...

by Joshua Ochs | Jan 15, 2007 11:37:53 AM

One thing the iPhone shows very well (and iPhony shows very poorly) is what a good-looking interface you can make on a 320 pixel wide screen. Look at the fonts, the icon design, and compare that the the Palm font which hasn't changed in over ten years (except getting very slightly smoother when moving to HiRes), and we only have three grainy icons across, whereas the iPhone manages four gorgeous icons across.

Look, I'm not getting an iPhone over the third-party software issue. However, it certainly shows that Palm could be doing a LOT more with the interface.

Speaking of interface, I think your comparison of button presses is perfect, but not in the way you intended. Yes, it showed how a power user might get to apps a button press faster (a whole button press!). I dare you to change one of those shortcuts for a week and see how many times you hit the wrong button. I decided recently I use Google Maps more than mVNC, but I STILL hit that button every time I think "VNC". Apple has once again shown that less can be more - their interface is extraordinarily simple, yet accomplishes everything the Palm launcher interface does, but with a lot more style and much easier to figure out and remember.

by Almost Converted | Jan 15, 2007 12:01:48 PM

Yes, screen customization on the Treo is nice, but sadly necessary.

Other than Bejeweled and GoogleMaps I can't find a 3rd party app I use daily , except YAHM SyncBeforeReset.
I got the Treo because it was the coolest phone out at the time.
3 things I'd like from iPhone(y):

Bluetooth 2.0

I will reserve judgement on virtual keyboard until I try it myself with my own fingers.

by Borszczuk | Jan 15, 2007 12:22:35 PM

@Leathernuts - if you've been "talking" to me: I got nothing to Andrew here. Just complaining and busting on someone behind iPhony.

by alan | Jan 15, 2007 12:22:48 PM

like an os x powermac to a pc notebook on vista or windows, the iphone has a beauty of design that no pc maker let alone microsoft has been able to emulate. the graphics are far superior on anything that apple designs. also, the ability to use the screen on a 16 x 9 or widescreen format is wonderful for anyone that ever watches anything on their device.

i have an 8 gb card for my 680 and love being able to put movies, tons of music, and quite a few 3rd party apps on my treo. i'm a t-mobile customer and love the sim card flexibility of the unlocked treo. since i always travel with my powermac i've never found the need to spend the 30 or 40 extra dollars per month to have internet capability, wifi is not important to me at all.

so, while i love my treo...there's no comparison on those two features (graphics & wide-screen)- the iphone is a legitimate piece of art. the treo is the exact opposite...function over form...

but only at this point. i for one, if the iphone was sim card enabled, would switch. i just love the apple look and their products' ease of use. it's their proprietary technology that keeps it application challanged compared to a treo.

i'm leaning towards purchasing one (as another comment suggested) as a second phone. it's that nice.

by Jutae | Jan 15, 2007 12:24:22 PM

I currently own a 700w and a 700p; however, the only reason i wouldn't get an iPhone is because it's "edge" and that's the only reason. Should Verizon come out with an "evdo" iPhone, i'm putting my Treos on ebay!

by Terry | Jan 15, 2007 12:30:09 PM


But that makes for a complicated interface. That is why Windows is in such a sad shape that it is in is because Microsoft couldn't decide which is the best way to do a function so they put all options in it. 9 ways to shut down Vista? Apple makes the decision for you. Making things simple is not easy.

How many OPTIONS does one need? A button that can be programmed ten different ways is not a feature. It's a burden. It's a cop-out on the developer because they didn't want to make the decision which way that MOST people would prefer it.

By commiting to a smaller set of options, the end product becomes easier to use and manage. You don't need to keep a Rosetta Stone code book with you whenever you want to access am obscure OPTION.

by Steven | Jan 15, 2007 1:26:53 PM

OR...you could hold your criticism of a UI you haven't yet used until it is actually released and you have a chance to see how it ACTUALLY fares against the Treo rather than how you, the editor of a TREO website thinks it will. Its similar to me thinking you are biased and quick to jump to conclusions even though I have never met you.

Also, iPhony does not use the same motion engine Apple has and thus does not come close to emulating the actual design with all the motion transitions and such. Cute? Yes. But actual proof that the Treo can handle the same UI as the forthcoming iPhone? I don't think so.

Additionally, I heard a comment from someone that they retracted their favoritable opinion of the iPhone because it a. will be Cingular only and b. will not allow third party development.

Every single Treo model yet released has remained exclusive to a carrier for a time with no real benefit to the end user. However, Apple and Cingular have worked to develop new technologies such as an entirely rebuilt voicemail system that is currently only on Cingular. Once the other carriers catch up and are able to support the added tech Cingular has helped Apple develop it will be multi-carrier.

And it will allow for third-party development in a similar manner to the iPod. Although the floodgates will not be opened to everyone the useful applications that are necessary or have a potential audience. Versus the Palm world where we have 30 applications to do any given task and no clear answer as to which is the best. Similarly to when it built iChat for the Mac Apple will continue to find needs and fill them with the right software, not a salad bar full of the wrong software.

by Lane | Jan 15, 2007 1:31:53 PM

I know this app is more of a joke, but is there a way to set as default launcher?



by byron church | Jan 15, 2007 1:39:35 PM

I have it set to my mail button (on my 680 Prefrence/buttons) I love this app with a little more work it will be a great app ! Get it if you can!

by I can hardly wait | Jan 15, 2007 2:38:52 PM

The iPhone interface is so cool I'm going to switch to the iPhone. But I think I'll wait for the next version when some improvements are likely to be announced...

More programmable buttons
It would be nice if I had more ways to wake up the phone than with just a 'Home' button. I think it would save time to be able to go directly to my email or calendar or phone for example. a navigation button would probably save a lot of time too.

A keyboard
Especially when in a hurry. I don't think I could type quickly on a virtual keyboard. Half of the time I'm using my Treo for mail. A keyboard will be important for my new iPhone.

3rd party apps
It would be really nice to let the vast developer base come up with applications Apple won't think of. Some handy things like iPhoney and some more useful ones like PDANet, VOYP, CallRec etc.

Removable memory
So I can take different file sets with me and use it as a backup for my phone and PC.

by kc! | Jan 15, 2007 2:57:47 PM

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep developing iPhony as a launcher!!! I love it!!

It could really use some loving care on the icons (they don't have any "down" state and the graphics aren't as crystal clear as they could be.

If some other useful info was added, it could be a super delicious launcher platform. Try adding some slick battery, memory, date, and calendar/tasks data and it could be a very elegant fun app!!

by Lane | Jan 15, 2007 3:03:34 PM

I just assigned it to a button for now as well..



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