Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Switching from the Palm Treo to Nexus One/Google

I'm making the switch to the cloud. After 13 years (since November 1997) of uninterrupted and relatively happy Palm usage, I'm making the switch to the Nexus One and Google accounts. This is a really big deal for me - I've been thinking about it for months now. Originally I was thinking about switching to the iPhone, but when my husband got a free Nexus One (he decided to stick with his iPhone), I decided to try that out.

Like I said, I've been quite happy with my Palm Treo for long time. But it really seems like the Palm is a dead end. Pretty much all the new apps are being written for the iPhone and Android. So, I'm converting.

This is probably not the best time to be writing up an account of the switch, since I'm particularly frustrated by a formatting problem in Gmail. I'll update later if there's interest.

1. Contacts - Moving the contacts over to Google contacts was a breeze. In my Palm desktop (version 6.2.2) I selected all the contacts, clicked on File, Export vCard, exported everything out, and them in Google contacts, imported them into a new group I created. One issue was - if you have an equal sign (=) in the notes, everything after it doesn't come in. Once I figured that out, I just did a search for the equal signs, and deleted them. I didn't have groups in the Palm contacts that I cared to keep, so I just imported all into one group. If I had, it would have been easy to just export a group at a time, and them import into a corresponding Google contacts group.

One thing that I wasn't happy with in Google Contacts is that you're only able to search in the notes of a contact on the web interface, and not on the contact application on the Nexus One. That's not good for me, because I do those searches all the time. I would put a keyword in the notes - for instance, "tennis". Then on the Palm, whenever I wanted a tennis partner, I just searched for the word tennis, and all my tennis partners showed up. I'm going to miss that feature.

2. Calendar - Moving the calendar over to Google calendar wasn't too bad either. I ended up using CompanionLink for Google. It looks like it's designed to continuously sync up between the Palm and Google, but I just used it for a one time sync. I would have paid for it, too, because from what I read the other options are not that easy, but there was a 14 day trial, and I just needed a one time load. From a relatively quick overview, it looks like events imported fine. I should probably review it a little more.

Oh, great. I just looked at one of my events, and I'm not able to edit it in the Gmail calendar interface - it just says "loading" and then never loads. Sheesh.

Okay. Shut down the browser and restarted, and it works.

3. Tasks/ToDos - I was hoping I'd be able to use Google tasks, but it's not full-featured enough - there's no offline application for it. I checked out a few other apps, but ended up using Remember the Milk. It's taking quite a bit of adjusting - after all, I'm been in the Palm environment for 13 years - but so far, things are going reasonably well. I paid for premium support, and have had quick responses to my questions (a day or so).

To import tasks, you email a list of tasks to your own personal email account. It loses the notes, and groupings, but at least it gets them in there. If you had a lot of tasks and were serious about keeping groups ("lists" in Remember the Milk), you could import in batches, and then move them over to the group that you want. I put the notes for those tasks that had them in manually.

By the way - notes are really strange in Remember the Milk. You have to add them manually - there's not automatically a notes field. Plus, you can add multiple notes. I have no idea why they did it this way - I can't think of any advantage over just having one note field that shows up like a regular field.

4. Memos/Notes - I checked out EverNote (I think it's beta on the Android, it hung a lot) and a few others, but at the moment I'm using Gmail drafts, organized with labels, for my memos. I'm frustated right now with a major problem - it seems that whatever I copy and paste into a new draft on the Gmail web interface, it looks great there, but when I look at it on the Nexus One Gmail app, it's just a big blob of text, with no line feeds. Impossible to read or work with. So, either this gets fixed or I need to find another solution.

(Update - it needs to be in rich text format. That shows up fine on the Nexus One for me, plain text does NOT. If you have a link above your email that says "rich formatting", then you're probably currently in plain text format, and should click on it to get into rich text format.)

I've made a commitment to the Nexus One now - or at the very least, to cloud computing. But there's a lot that I find a little frustrating. For instance, I'm a heavy user of the main Palm apps - tasks, memos, calendar, contacts. To get to them on my palm Treo is a matter of seconds and a few clicks. To get where I need to go on the Nexus One takes me a lot longer - lots more clicks and slides.

Typing on the virtual keyboard is much slower and more error prone than typing on my palm Treo.

Overall - I'm excited to make the move, and I look forward to trying out all the applications. Hopefully the current frustrations are just a bump on the road.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a Treo 680 user also thinking about the switch. I'm finding many places where the apps on the phone don't provide all features of the web versions. I find this particularly disturbing for the calendar app. The navigation issues you mention are a concern. Until I can create repeating events with a few "clicks" without the website, I won't be giving up my Treo.

5:56 PM  

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