Is it time to get an iPhone? iPhone 3.0 vs the Palm Pre
Posted Mar 17 2009 3:54pm
At last Apple has made a significant upgrade to the iPhone/Ipod Touch OS. Version 3.0 touts over 100 features. Key ones which users will look forward to (the OS isn’t expected for final release till June this year) : Cut, Copy and Paste. Finally. I don’t know why it took Apple so long to implement this key feature. I often have to transfer data between applications so this is essential if I were to consider using an iPhone as a PDA phone for work. MMS. Actually useful from time to time. Even at work where I could just shoot an image and MMS it off to a colleague. Spotlight. A pseudo-device wide search. OK maybe not as good as Palm Pre’s Universal search which includes the Cloud but at least it’s something. I certainly hope it can search Notes properly since doctors will rely on Notes to store snippets of information as their “Peripheral brain”. It would be useless if we can’t search Notes. Having said that, tons of iPhone users are using Evernote which makes up for the iPhone’s shortcomings in the note taking arena. Ad hoc peer-to-peer network. Might be useful for transferring data to your colleagues. Someone might come out with a useful application to transfer info for patient handover after call for instance.
What is missing - multi-tasking. Probably not that big a deal for me but it’s still desirable. Coming from the Palm world, task switching is already pretty efficient most of the time. It’s ideal though if the task retains it’s state. It doesn’t have to keep running - just remain in the same “window” as it was previously. For instance if you look up contact information and need to switch to something else like an email application, when you switch back to the contact application you don’t want to have to look for the contact all over again. It should still be in the same state with the desired contact details still open. PalmOS sucks at this specific area of task switching. I believe the iPhone does not have this drawback. WebOS will be truly multi-tasking so it won’t be an issue. The way you can use applications in WebOS viewing them as “Cards” is pretty elegant.
Does the iPhone OS 3.0 steal from the Palm Pre’s thunder? A bit I think. However the Palm Pre still has a very interesting UI, better PIM, multitasking and on top of that some key hardware features which no OS upgrade can account for: a physical keyboard and replaceable battery. The last one is important for medical users. When you are on call, you don’t want to be forever looking to charge your device when you are running low on juice. A spare battery is a good thing for those long working hours.
One final thing - applications. For me, it’s not just the design, gimmicks, looks etc. It boils down to the applications which you need and whether or not the device can run what you need. iPhone has a good head start on WebOS for medical applications. The list is quite long and growing. When the Palm Pre launches, WebOS will be desperately short of medical applications. It will not have an emulator (none yet that we know of) in order to run older generation Garnet medical applications. Epocrates may be out on WebOS by the time the Pre launches but will this be enough? You could say some of the applications like Up To Date are available on “the could” via browser access. But if you work in hospital, there are blind spots like in Imaging departments where there is no Wifi and indeed no phone signal. Just yesterday my work Wifi died due to some router issues. No problem I thought, I could fire up Internet Connection Sharing on my Treo Pro and use my 3G data (I am on a flat rate plan) but to my horror, I could not connect. I called my provider and there was a “network upgrade in progress message” which explained the interruption in data service. I was quite lost without an Internet connection for an hour!
So the next few months will be interesting times. I hope Palm launches the Pre soon and gets that WebOS development kit out the front door quickly as well. If we don’t get medical application developers porting older Palm applications to WebOS, then I suspect iPhone 3.0 is going to take away a significant number of medical users who were sitting on the fence.
The Palm Pre is supposed to be the iPhone killer. Does iPhone 3.0 negate this? One last video for you to watch before you make your conclusion