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CentroIntro Pt 9: Favorites make Centro dialing fast

Tue Apr 29, 2008 - 10:18 AM EDT - By Jay Gross


To make a call, you tap or type the numbers into your Centro or select a number from your Contacts list. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a quick way to dial your most frequently called numbers? There is, and it’s extremely powerful. This time, we’ll take Favorites over to Jay’s Explanatorium, and with a conspiratorial wink talk about how to delete Favorites entries that come with the phone.

For review, if you need it, here’s what we’ve covered previously:

  • We got acquainted with our Centros in Part 1,
  • Shopped in Part 2,
  • Dealt with dialing in Part 3,
  • Heated up HotSync in Part 4,
  • Explored MP3 music in Part 5,
  • Detailed “General” Preferences settings in Part 6. and
  • Set up Bluetooth, infrared, and networking in Part 7.
  • In Part 8 we personalized the Centro’s buttons and its display, completing a three-part exploration of the Preferences section.

Whew! The implication is that we’re done setting things up, and we are. For now. The Centro offers many other opportunities to express your druthers for how things display, what they do, or what happens when you invoke some command or button. The Phone application, for example, has options for ringtones, macros, and the like. We’re headed there right now, for a discussion of shortcuts.

One quick caveat. Beginning with Part 4 in the series, AT&T complicated my life by shipping white Centros with green buttons. Those and the new obsidian AT&T Centros are different from Sprint’s Centros - like mine – especially in their Phone application. I’ll try to point out any differences that I know about, but I don’t have an AT&T Centro of my own to compare. Meanwhile, my Centro screenshots might not exactly match yours.

Down to business. Grab your Centro, prop your feet up, and get the all-powerful Phone app running. You can do this by tapping the “Phone” icon in the Applications screen, but the easy way is to invoke the hardware - press the button with the icon that looks like a phone handset. Curious that it doesn’t look like a cell phone, isn’t it?

Sprint and AT&T Centros follow different routes to telephone town. Sprint takes the low road, so to speak, with Palm’s tried-and-true traditional Treo Phone app. The AT&T model implements the newer, pizzazzier Phone application developed for another Palm smartphone, the Treo 680. I have a 680 (gloriously crimson!), so I’ll use screenshots from it to simulate the AT&T Centro’s display. In this section, we’ll divide to conquer, since the applications are quite different.

The Sprint Centro’s default Phone screen looks like the screenshot on the left; the AT&T Centro defaults to a different tab from the one shown, but the screenshot on the right is its corresponding display. The tab at bottom left makes this one appear. To stay partially sane, we’ll take these in turn, the AT&T Centro first.

Skip ahead to the heading “Sprint Centro Phone Home” if your Centro’s a Sprint model.

AT&T Phone Home

We’ll start with the dialpad. This number pad display invites you tap the screen with the stylus or a fingertip to dial a number. You can also use the number keys – on the white Centro they’re the green ones! – to do the same thing. While entering a number to dial, use the backspace key (far right, two-from-bottom) to go back. To insert a number, use the left and right “cursor” keys on the 5-Way Navigator. That’s it. Next stop: next tab.

This is the tab with the star on it. It lists “favorites” and quick dial options. You can add, delete (thank you, Palm!) or edit the favorites list, and change the order in which they appear. Fresh out of the box, your Centro comes with a collection of Favorites to get you started. That is, get you started buying stuff from the carrier. Feel free to replace them with something you can actually use.

What you’d probably rather have is a quick list of the phone numbers you call the most - your mom, your office, your curling team, as the case(s) may be. Fortunately, the voicemail number is built in, but you can add more, subtract the ones you don’t want, and edit the rest. Here’s how:

  • Tap the Star (Favorites) tab if you’re not already there.
  • Press the Menu button (bottommost-rightmost on the keyboard)
  • Choose Organize. That’s where the Delete option lives; it offers the other options - New and Edit - too.
  • Tap the entry you want to change.
  • Change it! To create a new Favorite, tap the New button at the bottom of the screen. To edit one, well, tap Edit. And then there’s that Delete key. Ahhhh. Get rid of the promos with it, or use the Edit button to change them to something actually useful.

I see hazy looks, so here’s a more specific look at New Favorite.

  • Tap the Star Tab.
  • Press the Menu button.
  • Tap “New Favorite”.
  • Tap the chooser menu at the top to make it say “Speed Dial”. That’s its default, unless you change it.
  • Type a Label, a name, like “Bob” or “Vet” or “Gym”. To choose an entry from the list you’ve already typed (or beamed, or HotSync’d) into the Contacts database, tap the Lookup icon. This option brings up the normal Contacts database from which to choose.
  • Type a phone number. If you used Lookup to fetch one, the number appears automatically, although you can edit it here if you need to.
  • Type a key if you want the Centro to launch the call with a single keystroke. If you assign a key to the number, you can initiate the call from any tab in the Phone app by simply holding down the key for a couple of seconds.
  • Tap More, at the bottom right of the screen, if you need extra digits, like extension numbers. These can also be automatically dialed, if you check the box.
  • Tap Done.

AT&T Centro owners skip to “Everybody meet here” while we go through this procedure for Sprint Centros.

Sprint Centro Phone Home

On the Sprint Centro the default Phone app screen is the number pad display. Here you can dial numbers by tapping the screen with fingertip or stylus, or by pressing the number keys – on my red (!) Centro, they’re white. If you type wrong, and who hasn’t, use the backspace key (second row from bottom, far right) to erase leftwards. To insert, use the Left and Right cursor keys on the 5-Way Navigator to move the “cursor.”

A wall of buttons at the bottom of the screen offers “Contacts,” “Call Log,” and so forth. A secret panel below that contains more choices for things you can do with a single tap. This is where you set up Favorites items, to speed dial your most frequently called numbers. Voicemail is already listed. Add your pet’s groomer, your auto mechanic, and your girlfriend(s), boyfriend(s), and whathaveyou. Plus any relatives you’re on speaking terms with. Here’s how:

  • Press the Menu button (bottom right on the keyboard).
  • Tap Edit Favorites Pages.
  • The list that appears is the first page (notice there are four more!) of your Favorites. I suggest you leave Contacts, Call Log, and Voicemail – and Web, if you use it. Tap the “2” at the bottom to move to Page 2.
  • Ahhhh! Here are some empties. Tap one.
  • Be sure the chooser at the top says “Speed Dial.” Tap and hold it and select from the dropdown list if you need to.
  • Type a Label. The label, like “Drucilla” or “Clinic” or “Work”, will appear in the empty square when you’re done. You can choose an entry from the list you’ve already typed (or beamed, or HotSync’d) into the Centro’s Contacts database by tapping Lookup. This option brings up the normal Contacts database from which to choose.
  • Enter the phone number, and type it. If you used Lookup, the number appears automatically, although you can edit as needed.
  • Type a key if you want assign a hot key to the number, so you can initiate the call by simply holding down the key for a couple of seconds.
  • Tap More at the bottom right of the screen if you need extra digits, like extension numbers. These can also be automatically dialed, if you check the box.
  • Tap Done.

Everybody meet here

Regardless of which carrier you got your Centro from, the Favorites feature has lots more power than just dialing a phone number. That little chooser dropdown will give you a clue to what I mean. You can, for example, run an application, or invoke Email. The Web Link item lets you enter a complete URL and instantly browse to it when you invoke the Favorite. I use it to get weather reports quickly when I’m running around town – have to know if thunderstorms are threatening, so I can zoom home and unplug my computers.


With two versions of the Phone application to deal with, here we are at the end of Favorites, at last. If you have burning questions, Centro or not, email the author, and nominate them for a trip to Jay’s Explanatorium. Next time, next topic!

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