After a long day of waiting, a post at the Palm Blog regarding the 700p update has just been put up by Product Manager Steve Sinclair. The update is expected to fix several bugs that have plagued many 700p users - bugs that included a significant lag while switching applications, audio stutter while playing music, and Bluetooth problems as well.
While many of these issues have not affected the majority of users, power users have found them to be incredibly aggravating, so the news that a patch is coming soon is welcome, though not ideal.
Unfortunately, the post is not what many in the Treo community had hoped for - the release of the update itself. Instead, the patch has been promised to be released the week of May 28th. This date is well past the original estimate of Q1 2007 for the patch -- as the post today.
Nevertheless, the post contains very good news. It details the differences between a quick patch (such as the issue regarding the Treo 680's battery drain) and "Maintence Releases," which are much more involved. Because these types of released delve deeper into the "guts" of the Treo, they require not only more care but also more carrier testing. The issues that are to be fixed by this Maintence Release do indeed require deep-level work on not only the version of the PalmOS found on the 700p, but also on the software running the Bluetooth and Cellular radios. Sinclair writes:
More than a few months into the effort we decided that a patch wasn't going to work because the changes touched too many other components - we'd need to build it into a full MR.
So while the delay is troublesome, the good news is that it means that this update will be more than just a "patch." Instead, it will address more fundamental software issues. Had Palm not spent as much time as they had on the fixes, the 700p's software issues would have likely not been solved anyway. According to Sinclair, the patch will address several problems:
In addition to the Bluetooth improvements I mentioned above, the 700p MR includes updates to SMS send/receive performance, MP3 playback, phone app launch speed and other areas.
Many in the TreoCentral Forums have been researching and discussing the 700p bugs since the device was released in May of last year. These discussions culminated in an open letter to Palm by forum member Bob-C, which was published here at TreoCentral. The letter clearly laid out the bugs found in the 700p and requested a patch. Furthermore, the letter addressed the difficulty Treo users have faced in not knowing whether to expect a patch or even whether or not Palm was aware of the issues.
Many were not expecting an answer from the traditionally tight-lipped company, but were pleasantly surprised when Sinclair responded with an open letter of his own two weeks later. The letter acknowledged that the bugs are indeed real and are, unfortunately, due in large part to the shared hardware between the 700p and its Windows Mobile counterpart, the 700w. Because of this shared hardware, it was unknown whether or not Palm would be able to fix all the issues. However, Sinclair said that Palm was working on a patch and expected it to be released Q1 2007. That deadline has now passed.
In the meantime, the TreoCentral 700p Hardware Forum has been very active, and one thread in particular has been useful to people following this issue, the Palm Support Response tracker thread. While many still consider the Treo 700p to be the best smartphone on the market today, these long standing issues have been a source of consternation to "power users" who expect their premium-priced device to function as well as less-powerful "feature phones," which now are often able to play MP3s and communicate via Bluetooth with no problems.
As far the the message goes, I think that despite the delay, it is still refreshing to see that Palm has publicly addressed the issue again. Although I and many TreoCentral members had originally hoped for a full-featured knowledge base or bug tracker, the Official Palm Blog is a step in the right direction. Hopefully Palm will continue to use it to communicate openly with the Treo community about future patches and known bugs.
The Treo 700p patch can't come soon enough.
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