Palm Pre (Sprint) SmartphoneFollow @infoworld
Like Google Android, Palm's webOS can handle full multitasking--something that iPhone OS 2.0 can't do. The Pre manages multitasking with a deck-of-cards visualization: You can view each of your open applications at once, shuffle them any way you choose, and then discard the ones you want to close. You do all of that with gestures that mimic handling a physical deck of cards. Apps remain live even when minimized into the card view, so changes can continue to happen in real time, even if you've moved on to another activity. Overall, I found this arrangement a playful and intuitive experience for managing multiple apps.
webOS also has a great notifications feature, a small alert that pops up at the bottom of the screen when you have an incoming call, text message, or e-mail, but that alert comes up without interrupting the app you have open (similar to Google Android). Though the notifications are nifty, I found their placement--below the Quick Launch Bar--a bit annoying: I kept accidentally hitting the Notifications when I wanted the Launch Bar (or vice versa). I prefer Google Android's layout, in which the notifications run across the top of the screen. Notifications also pop up on the Pre's stand-by screen.
Fans of Palm OS will be happy to know that the Pre retains the copy-and-paste function: You simply hold down Shift on the keyboard and then drag on the touchscreen to select the desired block of text. Afterward you open the application menu in the upper-left corner of the screen and select copy, cut, or paste.
Social Networking Synergy
One of the most important components of webOS is its ability to synchronize, and synthesize, information from various sources into one seamless, integrated view. Palm calls this concept "Synergy," and it is incorporated into the contacts, e-mail, and messaging applications. For example, you can sync the Pre to your Google, Facebook, and Microsoft Exchange accounts; it will grab your contacts from those accounts, and all of them will appear in the Pre's Contacts app.
On the surface, the idea of having all of your contacts pulled into one list seems like a good approach. In practice, however, I found it a bit overwhelming--and honestly, I'm not sure if it's for me. A lot of my Facebook friends are not people I regularly communicate with, so having them appear in my Contacts was a bit unnerving. And unfortunately, you don't get a way to load specific contact lists from those accounts--it's either all of your contacts or none.
If you'd rather use a desktop app to store your contacts, calendar, and tasks, such as iCal and Address Book (Macs) or the desktop Outlook or Palm Desktop (PCs), you can download a third-party app that can sync your desktop software to a Google account. You can then sync your Google account to the Pre. You can also sync Outlook directly with your Pre over Wi-Fi using the third-party app PocketMirror (currently available in the Palm Apps Catalog).
The Calendar app has color coordination and multiple calendar support. The big news is that you can subscribe to public and specific calendars, like those on Google and Facebook. If you use the Pre to add something to your Google calendar, for instance, that info will sync with the details on Google's Calendar Web site (though it takes a few hours to appear online).