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Propel Professional

Wed Jul 30, 2008 - 7:45 AM EDT - By Dan Nimtz


The Palm OS always gets high marks for its easy accessible nature. Unlike some other platforms, the Palm OS doesn't hide it's applications in nested menus. It's no wonder the built in launcher serves its purpose quite well. But what if you want to take that ease of use to a new level. Propel Professional allows you to even more easily select applications to run, but takes that concept and applies it to other Palm data as well. This review will briefly cover just what Propel Professional can do, and whether it's worth your hard earned money.

Key concepts

Propel Professional is a replacement for the built - in launcher. Of course it doesn't remove the original launcher - you can still get to it, but by default, it becomes the launcher that is invoked when you press your Palm's "Home" button. So what does it offer over the built - in launcher? The thing that stands out the most is the way you launch applications. You can of course select applications via the 5-way, or the stylus, but that's not as powerful as using the keyboard - especially if you have a Treo or Centro. In Propel, you just need to enter the beginning character of the application, followed by any other character contained in the name of the application. So for example, to launch "Pocket Tunes", you would enter a "p", followed by maybe "u". As you enter the characters, Propel filters the possible matches dynamically, and if configured to, it will automatically launch the application once a unique match has been entered. Trust me, this is easier to actually do than it probably sounds. And once you start using it, you will quickly be able to launch virtually any application within only a few keystrokes.

Propel extends this concept beyond just launching applications though. You can also discover contacts, files, music, photos, documents, applications on the SD card, memos, spreadsheets, etc. Also via the creation of a special type of memo, Propel can even launch websites via bookmarks contained within the memo. You simply create one or more memo entries that contained URLs to your favorite websites. Once Propel sees these special memos, it will automatically create launchable entries for the websites.

Say it and it shall be so

Propel Professional allows another unique way to launch things. Voice commands. You simply enter the name of the voice command - Call Home - for example. You then record a voice command that you want to use, and lastly, you select the action you want performed when that voice command is matched. The action you select can be virtually anything you would normally be able to launch via Propel, so you can have it start an application, dial a phone number, go to a website - you name it (actually you speak it). In my testing, the voice recognition was pretty good. It does allow for some sensitivity adjustments if needed. By default, you can configure Propel's voice recognition to kick in when you press the side button. This makes for a pretty useful feature, especially when you need to focus your attention other than on your Palm device - such as when you are driving.


Propel organizes your screens via "Views". You can use views as different ways to arrange the content of your Palm. You can configure a view to display any of the following items:

  • Applications (in main memory or on the SD card)
  • Contacts (by first, last, and or company name)
  • Bookmarks
  • Memos
  • Documents (including docs, spreadsheets, presentations, PDF files, etc)
  • Audio files (music files, as well as play lists)
  • Photos and videos

By creating multiple views, you can easily change the displayed and searchable content from just applications, to just contacts, or just music files - you get the idea. Propel includes pre-configured views for applications, contacts, files on SD cards, Music, memos, and one called "Power User". The Power User view basically includes all types of items. So from that view, you can select almost anything you could possibly want to do - from launching a program, to emailing a contact, to playing your favorite Pocket Tunes playlist.

All of the views can be edited, and you can decide which Views you want to cycle through when you ask Propel to switch views. The items in a view can also be displayed in icon or list modes:

In addition to views, you can also designate "favorite" items. These "favorites" can be configured to appear 1st in any view.

Opposite of "favorite", you can "hide" an item, and it won't appear at all. Good way to get rid of some of those never used application icons.


Propel allows you to customize almost every aspect of its behavior:

  • Which programs to use when launching various items such as email, phone numbers, SMS messages, websites, music files, documents, memos, etc
  • How to activate Propel
  • It's background, skin layout, text sizes and colors
  • Which status icons and display elements you wish to appear
  • Which plugins you want to appear, and on which views. I won't get into plugins but to say there are some pretty cool ones available - things like a nice big clock display, a "last app" launched display, an i-Bar, as well as integration with other popular programs such as Power Hero, and 4cast weather.
  • You can even use a set of external icons to replace the built in application icons.


So how does Propel Professional operate in the real world? You might expect, given all of the features and functions, that this program may perform slowly. But you'd be wrong. I found the searching and launching of applications and other items to be nearly instantaneous. Propel pulls this off by keeping track of all of your items internally so that each item can be quickly discovered. Maintaining this internal list is done via "updates". These updates can be handled in the background, upon demand, or after each hotsync. I allowed Propel to handle its updates in the background, and that seemed to work well. On my Centro, if I asked Propel to perform an update, it would take it about a minute to scan everything in memory and on my 4 gig micro SD card. This updating is one downside to using Propel, especially if you are adding applications, contacts, or memos frequently - since they won't show up in Propel's list until an update has been performed.

Propel is definitely designed to be used as your default launcher, and to be activated via the home key. However, that disabled one feature I really love on my Centro - I make heavy usage of the "hold down the home key for a pop up list of last used apps" that the built-in launcher provides. This feature gets disabled when Propel is configured to use the home key.


Propel Professional provides almost anything you can imagine in a Palm launcher. It is truly unique in its ability to search and launch applications, contacts, memos, bookmarks etc using the innovative approach of filtering via keystrokes. I found myself very quickly memorizing 2 or at most 3 keystroke sequences which would launch my favorite applications. In addition, using the voice command capability seems really promising, especially for dialing favorite contacts, hands free.

While $24.95 is not cheap, I think the function provided and the unique approach makes this a good purchase. Propel is also available in a stripped down, standard version for $14.95. The standard version is a more basic launcher, and is missing the ability to launch certain types of items (calls, emails, SMS, music, bookmarks), and the ability to use voice launching.

I would say if you have ever wished you could enhance the built-in launcher, or wished you could more easily find content within your Palm - check out Propel Professional. It really delivers, and is actually fun to use.

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Design 5
Usability 4
Features 5
Cost/Benefit 5
(not an average)
  • Awesome approach to choosing applications, contacts, and
    other content especially with a keyboard smartphone
  • Cons
  • Updating is necessary after installing new applications or editing content before it will appear in Propel lists.

  • Normal usage disables the Palm built-in [Hold home key
    for list of latest used apps] function

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