Opinion: Palm OS 5: The Wish List

At PalmSource next week, Palm Inc. will give the world its first look at its next-generation operating system, OS 5. This is the first version of the Palm OS designed to work on ARM-based processors rather than the current Dragonball ones, but that won't be the only change. Long-time contributor Mike Cane has a list of Ten Things That Should Be In Palm OS 5.

Palm OS 5: The Wish List

By Mike Cane
Copyright 2002 by Mike Cane.
All Rights Reserved.
Exclusive to Palm Infocenter.

In about a week, the news from the PalmSource developer conference will begin. A picture of what will and -- perhaps more importantly -- won't be in Palm OS 5 will start to emerge.

In an effort to make clear to Palm just what it is we "power loyalists" are looking for in Palm OS 5, I have compiled this list for Palm's education. In no particular order, here are Ten Things That Should Be In Palm OS 5 --

1) A real file system. VFS is a dog. An ailing, mangy, and just about good-for-nothing dog that should be put to sleep. We need transparency in using SD, MMC, CF, and Memory Stick storage. Programs and data files should not care where they reside -- internal RAM or external storage. A true directory structure is needed too, so programs and files can be grouped together in folders (and at least one level of sub-folder).

2) More Categories. Fifteen is just not enough. It never was.

3) Top/Bottom Page Command in Memo Pad. Why wasn't this added in Palm OS 2? Doesn't anyone at Palm ever use a full Memo? It's very unproductive to have to grab the stylus to use the "elevator" in the scroll bar. And wheeling with a Jog Dial is no fun, either. A pair of icons to choose "Go to Top" and "Go to Bottom" can be added off to the right side of the Details button -- there's lots of room there.

4) Native color font support. It should be there in the Palm-supplied Date Book, Address book, To Do List and Memo Pad. It should also be in the Launcher, so program names can be highlighted or related by color.

5) Typefaces and attributes. HandEra and Sony have each tried their best to coax better-looking, more-readable, and a larger variety of typefaces into Palm OS. It's time for real typefaces, even if it means licensing TrueType (which is, after all, a widely-used standard). The ability to use different faces and attributes (plain, bold, italic, underline, strikethrough, sub/superscript, and small caps, for a start) would be a boon for making items stand out in the four native apps. And it would give a huge boost to ebooks. (And yes, Palm, some of us do need to write things such as Einstein's famous equation properly in Memo Pad -- "E=mc^2" is unacceptable.)

6) A long-file standard. DOC just doesn't cut it any longer. It's time to retire it. Palm must take the initiative and create a standard to which all current DOC program developers can switch. Categories are not preserved between current DOC programs and there is no text formatting. Palm, do you have any idea of just how frustrating this has been for everyone? This must end.

7) Command Bar customization. Not every app uses the marvelous Command Bar to its fullest. Users should be able to add new functions. Especially the "Go to Top" and "Go to Bottom" commands that no DOC program developer has yet caught on to add there. The Command Bar should also resize. Let us cram 20 function icons into it if we want. Command Bar "plug ins" could in some cases replace Hacks.

8) Selectable alarms. We should be able to assign different alarms to different items in Date Book. Right now an alarm for a doctor's appointment is indistinguishable from a reminder to buy cat food! This must change.

9) Dual window support. I often have a DOC open with PopUp Note over it to move text between a DOC and a Memo. If Hacks that perform this poor-man's "multitasking" will go away in Palm OS 5, this sort of functionality should be preserved by adding it to the OS.

10) Soft Graffiti. HandEra has shown it can be done, but not nearly as well as it should be done. When the Soft Graffiti area is collapsed, HandEra's method foolishly deprives us of the "command slash" to call up the Command Bar or to activate other functions (such as /A or /S which is Select All in some apps and is usually not iconized in the Command Bar). In addition, HandEra's way simply mimics the image of the Hard Graffiti area we all know. Not only should there be Soft Graffiti, but the entire area should be customizable. I don't need that Menu icon. Let me choose what I want there. Allow us to place half- and quarter-size icons -- and in color, too. And if Soft Graffiti will show "ink" as HandEra's area does, let us choose not only the thickness of that ink, but also its color. And allow us the option to turn off "ink."

These are ten things that I believe Palm OS 5 should contain. I have stayed away from technical topics such as dynamic resolution switching, fractal compression, and pipes; instead concentrating on what we as Palm users experience every day -- how things look and work. I'm certain many other things need to be added (I believe Outlook users have a long list), and you can contribute to this wish list by using PIC's Comment feature. Let Palm know what you need added to its OS.

Article Comments


The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. PalmInfocenter is not responsible for them in any way.
Please Login or register here to add your comments.

Comments Closed Comments Closed
This article is no longer accepting new comments.

Down View Full Comment Thread

A built - in Journaling application

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 10:55:01 AM #
Like Day-Notez or similar, but it should automatically collect all of your crossed off to-do's and appointments.

For God's sake, LINKING !!!!!!!!

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 10:56:19 AM #
What more needs to be said? Let me link anything and everything to each other and let me navigate back and forth with a tap or command-stroke. This is what I want more than anything else

RE: For God's sake, LINKING !!!!!!!!
mikecane @ 1/29/2002 10:59:48 AM #
What would you be linking? I've heard of apps that can do this sort of thing but have never tried them. Please elaborate.

RE: For God's sake, LINKING !!!!!!!!
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 11:01:18 AM #
I want to be able to manage multiple related tasks and projects. It's a pain trying to keep track of multiple projects (people, facts, to-do's) within the limitations of the current OS.

I want to link all the people in a company together in the Addressbook. I want to link a person's record to all of the appointments I have with them. I want to link a memo regarding a project to all of the to-do's for that project. I want to be able to jump back and forth from that memo to the to-do's with a single tap so I can create, edit or mark them without the OS getting in the way of my thinking. I want to be able to move through my data effortlessly with the OS doing all the work of changing applications and keeping track of where I was in each application.

DateBk4 gives you a little of this, but it should be a function built into the OS to really work.

PS: Check out MegaWiki 4.0. It's not perfect, but it gives you an idea of what linking can do.

RE: For God's sake, LINKING !!!!!!!!
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 11:33:03 AM #
palm has always made operating system simple. We should not ask for complicated things since simple people still are out there and satisfied with the current OS.

A soft grafitti is great but will palm care about softgraffiti considering they dont have any intentions of making a device that can take advantage or it?

What i really want from OS5 is encryption for increased security. right now i can go to C:\palm and look for *.dat files and open with notepad,,and i can see my private records. Its just so easy for me. If i own a company i would never Trust palms current OS for sensitive Datas.

Thats my opinion.


RE: For God's sake, LINKING !!!!!!!!
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 11:49:54 AM #
> A soft graffiti is great but will palm care about softgraffiti considering
> they dont have any intentions of making a device that can take advantage or it?

a) Don't be too sure of this.

b) Even if they don't, that's the advantage of Palm's making the OS Group a subsidiary and eventually a separate company. The Palm Hardware Group is no longer controlling what goes into the OS. The OS Group gets its money from all the licensees and has to cater to all of them, including the ones who want a soft graffiti area.

RE: For God's sake, LINKING !!!!!!!!
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 1:59:25 PM #
Actually, if you want to have to-do's and appointments consolidated in a single project-type document, you could use an application called ShadowPlan. It's like BrainForest on steroids.

RE: For God's sake, LINKING !!!!!!!!
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 2:38:42 PM #
Re linking, I once looked at a product called LinkDragon, although I never put much effort into learning it. You might want to try this.

RE: For God's sake, LINKING !!!!!!!!
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 6:26:24 PM #
Linking would be great. But it becomes most useful if the links are synchronized between the desktop/palm and can be utilized as such.

That's where Palm wouldn't want to get involved since so many people sync w/ Outlook.

I doubt built-in linking will happen. But I really like the idea, as well.

RE: For God's sake, LINKING !!!!!!!!
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 9:00:15 PM #
Search for "megawiki" on palmgear. It's kinda complex, but it lets you create links in text fields to the main palm applications or any program that uses the regular databases.

RE: For God's sake, LINKING !!!!!!!!
EngrRick @ 1/10/2003 4:49:42 PM #
You'd be right if we were still talking Palm OS 4.x or less. Neither MegaWiki nor LinkerHack work with Palm OS 5. (And LinkDragon does not appear to work, either.)


I love my Tungsten T, but I do miss the links.

RE: For God's sake, LINKING !!!!!!!!
revau @ 9/8/2004 11:54:29 PM #

IR Printing

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 10:59:11 AM #
Something like PrintBoy should be built-in to the OS to allow all the applications to call one standard print engine. Oh, and have it support True-Type fonts :)

Bluetooth Printing
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 11:02:24 AM #
I agree but it should be slightly more generic so we can print with Bluetooth. Bluetooth printers are already available and the SD card will be out soon. Palm will include Bluetooth in its first OS5 model.

RE: Bluetooth
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 11:12:20 AM #
Yup, I agree. I forgot about Bluetooth :)

RE: IR Printing
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 5:32:49 PM #

Yes! Printing.

Some people want to bark about how the developer community should do that, but I think the ability to print from a PDA is totally a core feature which palm should include and standardize.

Was in Europe not too long ago and tried to print from MultiMail which ended up failing becuase of a missing library. It was such a disapointmnet!

RE: IR Printing
arp @ 9/8/2005 7:35:39 PM #
And it still ain't implemented correctly... :(

http://www.arpx.net/article.php/top_10_palmos_applications - my top 10 palm apps

wish list

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 10:53:20 AM #

All I can say is I really wonder if Palm is listening. My observation of many compagnies is that they tend to listen their clients only via the satisfacion surveys...
Almost every times I e-mail to a compagnie to suggest them some improvments (read: help them), most of the times I don't get any answer. And if I have, they say big thanks but things don't change. There are exeptions, like Mindmaker, but they are so rare.

I don't know if this expression exist in english: praying in the desert...

RE: wish list
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 12:09:25 PM #
I think that "Praying in the desert" would best be represented by the English "Pissing in the wind" !!

RE: wish list
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 12:47:31 PM #

I'm not sure. Praying in the desert means do something that will have no impact because nobody is listening.

Anyway, doesn't matter.

RE: wish list
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 5:15:54 PM #
that is the correct translation then...

RE: wish list
badbob001 @ 1/30/2002 12:15:56 PM #
My high school teacher had a funny put down: "That's as effective as trying to melt an iceberg with a warm stream of piss."

RE: wish list
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/23/2002 11:56:28 AM #
Wow I.M. Anonymous sure does post a lot...DAMN!

RE: wish list
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/25/2002 4:19:53 PM #
Why do you ask Palm, move to PocketPC 2002 everything already included;)

RE: wish list
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/22/2002 1:32:30 PM #
Really? Does your Pocket PC syn with my Macintosh?

Multiple categories

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 11:01:47 AM #
Not just more than 16 categories. Let records be assigned to more than one category if the app developer chooses to allow this. This would be extremely useful in the addressbook, for example.

RE: Multiple categories
KB2PMD @ 1/29/2002 11:11:25 AM #
I agree! Also, we should be able to choose categories in our Date Book! If we're syncing to other services (e.g. yahoo!, like I am), it would be nice to be able to only sync certain categories of data (so my work calendar is only that)

RE: Multiple categories
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 11:32:28 AM #
Why wait for OS 5?

WeSync lets you do this today.

You can have more than 15 address book categories and any contact can be in multiple categories.

You can have multiple calendars - one for work and one for - whatever you want.


Multiple Categories and much more Wish List Items
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 11:35:52 AM #
Yes!!! Multiple Categories

Unlimited # of Categories

Unlimited Filtered Lists(ala on Palm Desktop)

LINKING: if a Contact is linked to a Note/Memo let that Link be preserved during HotSync
FIND: When Searching for a Contact, it's 1st Prefered Attached Note/Memo should also show up on Desktop, and on PDA there should be a LINK to that Memo/Note for back and forth navigation ala on Desktop. BTW, how come only 1 Note/Memo can be opened at a time? In wordprocessors and other applications one can have more than one file opened at time

STANDARDISATION: Why is it a Note on Palm Desktop and Memo on PDA?(at least on Mac it is so)

PHOTOS FIELDS: Can there be several per Contact, so tha one has a "face to go with it"?

4,000 CHARACTERS per Note/Memo: the Truncation NEVER worked properly after HotSyn. Why can't I be warned with some kind of Characters Counter, so I know how close I am to the 4,000 limit. Better yet, NO LIMIT ON CHARACTERS, or at least a greater limit

Word Processing in Notes/Memos

Unlimited # of Notes/Memos

Top-Bottom Page in Note/Memo -- LONG LONG OVERDUE

VIBRATING ALARMS: vibration is very weak, and even if one is wearing very thin clothes, Vibration doesn't last long enough and strong enough to be noticed. If one is on the street, where there are lots of distractions, vibration is almost guaranteed to be unnoticed. BTW, same criticism applies to my Keyocera 2035 Cell Phone

NORTON AND VIRUS DETECTION: ala on desktop, there should be some software that one can run in order to see if All IS OK, ala Norton, TechTools(I am on Mac)

VOICE ACTIVATED PASSWORD: i.e. bring up Palm to one's mouth and say the password to get in

VOICE MEMO RECORDING: instead of writing it down, record it and be able to set alarm on each Voice Memo. BTW, I mean built into Palm, not an Attachment

EMAIL TO COMMAND: one should be able to Email a Note/Memo, or a Contact from Desktop or PDA

Extended Screens(hide Grafiti area)

Fully Functional Quicken

Each PDA Application SHOULD HAVE it's Desktop Companion

COLOR PALMS ONLY! Higher Resolution! More Memory! Faster! Solar Charging: so whenever a PDA is exposed to light it is being recharged, even if it's on = NO MORE BATTERY WORRIES!!!

RE: Multiple categories
Scott @ 1/29/2002 12:24:31 PM #
How did I miss this app?!?!?

This is almost exactly like what I was talking about in one of my later posts below. Combining this with wireless (and it looks like they do) is what will be the "killer app" for wireless, IMO. Of course this thing's been out for a while it seems and it hasn't caught on (in fact, I'd never heard of it). IMO, this is due to the *still* high cost of unlimited wireless. The beauty of this isn't just for businesses (though they can afford to pay the big bucks for wireless). I'm still floored.


RE: Multiple categories
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 2:42:08 PM #
Scott - don't get all rosy about WeSync until you've tried it. Despite my initial euphoria, I have found WeSync Calendars so buggy as to be unusable. Duplicates, deletions, unintelligible queries ("Accept record from Handheld/PIM or Handheld/PIM?"), interminable hotsync times, etc. And it wasn't like I didn't try - I gave it a year. WeSync Contacts - the address book function - is much more stable, but I would never DREAM of using it for anything but a conduit to sync up changes to address data needed by multiple Palm users - eg, a family or business with multiple Palm users. WeSync Contacts can ride invisible on your Palm and desktop, and will update your Palm address book. I would be VERY hesitant to use it as a Palm address book replacement, because I am not at all convinced that it is reliable when used that way. You might draw some conclusions from the fact that Palm purchased WeSync a year ago, but appears to have invested little if anything in it since then.

RE: Multiple categories
Scott @ 1/29/2002 2:56:10 PM #
Thanks for bursting my bubble about WeSync. Still, I'll give it a try. Even if it's a flop, I really think that Palm, Inc. needs to be working on getting this sort of thing working and incorporating some of it into the OS and core PIM apps directly. See my post farther down in this thread.


I.M. Anonymous @ 1/30/2002 1:50:32 PM #
And you know what your dream pda is called? MS Outlook. Go buy yourselves a Picturebook from sony ans shut up. Palm is easy ans simple and that's the way it should remain.

RE: Multiple categories
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/30/2002 5:03:52 PM #
- VOICE ACTIVATED PASSWORD: i.e. bring up Palm to one's mouth and say the password to get in

Ha! I can hear it now:

"Hey, will you guys shut up! I'm trying to log into my palm!"

"Turn off the damn music! I wanna use my palm!"


I love Mike Cane

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 11:04:53 AM #
Honestly. His comments here are always good. The only problem with this list tho is that it really is a OS4 list, not an OS5 list. Except for multitasking, all of these things could and should have been done much sooner.

That said, I really hope that Palm is listening to Mike on this one - it would be foolish not to.

RE: I love Mike Cane
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 11:13:03 AM #
Good article Mike. BTW, I agree with all your points.

Palm OS 5 wishlist

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 11:10:11 AM #
The wishlist is great and the PocketPC OS already supports everything you want TODAY not TOMORROW or SOMEDAY.

RE: Palm OS 5 wishlist
mikecane @ 1/29/2002 11:13:35 AM #
First, this is a wishlist for PalmOS. If I had a PPC, I'd probably be doing a wishlist for that, too! Just from what I've read and seen of PPC, it has its own set of improvements that need to be made.

Second, PPCs are both larger and more expensive than Palms. That might change with ARMed units, but people still tend to stick with what they know (witness the metastatis of Windows!).

Third, plugging PPC here won't do anything more than show PPC owners in a bad light. Do you want that?

RE: Palm OS 5 wishlist
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/29/2002 11:14:30 AM #
Yes, like move a MS Word document onto the handheld, edit it, and move it back to the desktop without most of its formatting being deleted. Oh wait, that's what the Palm OS can do, not the Pocket PC.

OK, how about run for hours without totally draining the battery and erasing the contents of RAM? Darn, I forgot, that's Palm again.

I've got one! Sit in your pocket without making a huge unslightly bulge that drags you clothes all out of shape. Oops, that's Palm again.

Oh I know, cost less than $400. Oh yeah, I forgot. That's the Palm OS again.

How about this? Get more than 20% of the worldwide handheld market. ****, that's not PPC is it?

RE: Palm OS 5 wishlist
pontif @ 1/29/2002 11:43:21 AM #
Ok, against my better judgement, I feel I must comment on this. Please don't flame me. I'm a Palm fan, and Palm developer. I don't want to sound like I'm promoting PocketPC OS or anything, but the fact is that the person who started this thread is absolutely right. Every single OS improvement on the wishlist is already in the PocketPC OS and has been in Window CE for several versions.

Palm has to walk a delicate line here, to avoid producing something that just looks like a first revision PocketPC wannabe. They need to make sure it isn't easier (or cheaper) for developers to switch from Palm OS 4 development to Pocket PC development than it is to switch from OS4 to OS5. They also have to worry about adding PPC's negative aspects as they add the positive features. They have to worry about stability of the OS. (PPC is finally getting less crash prone, but it took 3 revs. Palm can't afford to go until OS 7 to get enough bugs out to have a stable OS.)

Top View Full Comment Thread
Achtung! Only the first 50 comments are displayed within the article.
    Click here for the full story discussion page...


Register Register | Login Log in