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GSM Centro Phone App Mystery

Tue Mar 25, 2008 - 1:08 PM EDT - By Jennifer Chappell


When Palm released the Treo 680, people were pleased with the new phone-dialer application. Mike Overbo talked about the new phone app in his Treo 680 review:

On the Treo 650, the Phone application was a bit of a user interface mess -- you scrolled down to get past the 4 favorites, and then you could scroll several pages right. The dial pad was too small to use predictably, and there wasn't enough screen real estate to make it fully useful. It was difficult to get messages, calendar appointments, a dial pad, and favorites on the screen.
On the Treo 680, they solve this formerly broken user interface problem with tabs. There are 5 main tabs at the bottom: dial pad, a favorites page that scrolls down, a main "Today" page that shows unread messages and upcoming events, a Contacts page (which formerly had its own app), and a Call Log page (this was present in the 650 but not intuitive to find). The UI is simple, vastly more powerful, and is a very welcome update. The dial pad numbers are larger -- plenty large for my fingers to use. These changes to the phone app, while subtle, really brings the phone aspect of the Treo into its own.

Back when the Treo 755p came out on Sprint, we realized that Palm didn't include the nice, new phone-dialer application that had been on the Treo 680. It instead had the same dialer that was on the Treo 700p. When the Centro came out on Sprint, it also had the 700p phone dialer. Then AT&T released their White Centro. And there was the 680 phone app that people had so enjoyed on the Treo 680.

People are puzzled as to why Palm didn't put the 680 dialer on the CDMA Sprint Centro. Alli Flowers recently wrote an interesting article over at mytreo.net talking about the different phone apps.

From the article:

For some reason, Palm engineers used the unique tabbed dialing screen from the Treo 680 on the GSM Centro, rather than the same dialer as the CDMA Centro, and all the other Treos. The question is, "why?"
If the GSM Centro phone screen is so compelling, why didn't Palm include it on the Treo 755, which came after the 680, and why not use it on the CDMA Centro? Out of sheer curiosity, I have posted a user poll on the subject here.

When Dieter reviewed the Sprint Centro back in October of last year, he too mentioned the Treo 680 phone-dialer app not being on the CDMA Centro:

What is disappointing to me is that the Treo 680's excellent phone-dialer application still has not made the jump to CDMA devices. I find it rather difficult to swallow that Palm thinks it's not worth the (relatively minor) investment in adding at least a good-looking new skin to the OS. Applications like ZLauncher and GX5's UltimatePhone show that the PalmOS has enough horsepower to handle running a better-looking interface. Even a minor refresh to a few apps - like they did with the Media-centric apps some time ago - would be a very welcome change and really help them hit their target audience more squarely. Palm is sticking with this version of the PalmOS for another year - it would have been nice to see one last push to make it look like it belongs on a phone released in 2007, i.e. post-iPhone.

I've mentioned this before, but back when I reviewed the 755p, I had mentioned that in an interview that day (Dieter told me about the interview), a Palm representative stated that there were two reasons why Palm didn't include the 680 phone app on the 755p: the 755p is more of a "power user" phone and the "classic" PalmOS Phone app is more geared toward that user and also that the 680's phone app is tied relatively closely to its GSM radio so transferring it to the 755p would have taken quite a bit of work.

So all I can figure is that the Sprint Centro doesn't have the 680 phone app because the Sprint Centro is CDMA, and the AT&T Centro does have the 680 phone app because the AT&T Centro is GSM like the 680. Neither Centro is touted as a business device so that wouldn't come into play.

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