Sunday, March 29, 2009

Can iPhone Replace a Palm?

Don has been using Palm organizers for about ten years. First it was his Palm III, followed by a Handspring Visor, and then a Palm Zire 71. Recently, when his Zire died, Don got a used replacement from eBay But recently, the handwriting has been on the wall (graffiti, of course). Even if Palm survives, the company is moving away from the venerable Palm OS.

Meanwhile, Don has been very happy with his iPhone. As iPhone's capabilities increased, it made less and less sense to carry two devices. Even before his Zire died, Don was exploring the possibility of transitioning to iPhone as his only PDA.

It's all about the apps. Over the last decade, Don has built up a stable of Palm programs that fill his needs: some built-in, others add-ons. Finding iPhone replacements has been a challenge, but at last Don has put together a suite of iPhone apps that allow him to move beyond Palm. As a public service, he presents here his list.

Of course, your mileage may vary, everyone's needs are different, blah blah blah.

Palm: Contacts iPhone app: Contacts (native): Syncs with Address Book via MobileMe

Palm: Calendar iPhone app: Calendar (native): Syncs with iCalc via MobileMe

Palm: Tasks iPhone app: Todo (Appigo): iPhone doesn't have a native to-do app, but Appigo's Todo fills the bill nicely. It syncs with the free online service Toodledo, which has a web component

Palm: Memos iPhone: Notebook (Appigo): iPhone has a native Notes app, but it pales in comparison with Palm memos. Appigo's Notebook not only allows categories, but it syncs with Toodledo.

Palm: Calc iPhone: Calculator (native) Good basic calculator; turn it sideways and get a scientific calculator with a fair array of features

Palm: VersaMail iPhone: Mail (native): Mail has VersaMail beat hands down

Palm: WebPro or Blazer iPhone: Safari (native): In its time, Blazer was a wonder. Wow, a web browser on a Palm! But Safari on iPhone is lightyears ahead

Palm: Camera iPhone: Camera (native): Again, the Palm camera app was a wonder in its time. But compared to the iPhone camera, Palm's is slow almost to the point of unusability. One thing, though: the Palm camera allows one to take video; iPhone's does not

Palm: Media and RealOne iPhone: Photos and iPod (both native): Media let you view photos and videos (but only Palm videos); RealOne let you listen to mp3 files. The Photo and iPod apps are so far superior that there's almost no comparison. Sync to desktop via iTunes

Palm: Voice Memo iPhone: coming in iPhone 3.0: Advantage to the Palm. There are non-native iPhone apps for voice memos, and that capability will apparently be native in 3.0. I don't use voice memos, so it's not a lack I've felt in iPhone

Palm: Expenses iPhone: PocketMoney (Catamount): iPhone does not come with a native expense app. For more on PocketMoney, see PocketQuicken below

Palm: Prefs iPhone: Settings (native): Settings has a cooler icon

Palm: HotSync iPhone: Sync Settings (not a separate app): There's no global sync app for iPhone; sync is very much an app-by-app thing. It's worth noting that native apps like Contacts, Calendar, and Mail sync over-the-air via MobileMe, which is too cool for school. Other apps require iTunes, or have their own sync/backup solutions

Palm: DateBk6 iPhone: Calendar (native) and Todo (Appigo): I confess, iPhone doesn't have anything as cool and useful as DateBk6. Calendar needs a lot of work (at least search is coming in 3.0), while Todo does a pretty good job -- but after years of having my schedule and to-dos displayed on the same screen, it took a paradigm shift to accept using two different apps

Palm: HanDBase iPhone: HanDBase: Without a good database app, switching to iPhone was unthinkable. Once the people at HanDBase announced that they had an iPhone version, then I started to contemplate switching. HanDBase syncs to the desktop, and easily reads Palm HanDBase databases

Palm: GlucoTools iPhone: Diabetes Pilot: I have diabetes and need an app to record and manage carbs and insulin injections. GlucoTools is a very simple insulin dose calculator; Diabetes Pilot is a full-featured recording, calculating, and reporting app. As the name implies, it's a port of the Palm program with the same name

Palm: Palm Reader iPhone: Stanza and Kindle: Stanza can read pretty much anything I throw at it, and can load files from the desktop. Reading books on iPhone is a much better experience than reading them on the Palm

Palm: YAPS iPhone: 1Password: YAPS stands for Yet Another Password Saver. 1Password is a perfectly acceptable replacement. I had to manually move all my account names and passwords, but that was a one-time-only inconvenience. 1Password backs up to the desktop but doesn't sync -- but YAPS was the same way

Palm: AIM iPhone: AIM and Twitterific: I never Twittered on the Palm. A while ago we went searching for a dedicated Twitter app for Thomas's Treo, but couldn't find one that was satisfactory. He just goes to the Twitter website with his browser. Meanwhile, Twitterific on iPhone is a joy. AIM on iPhone works pretty much the same way as AIM everywhere

Palm: PocketQuicken iPhone: PocketMoney: Neither Landware or Intuit seem inclined to do a version for iPhone. PocketMoney is a perfectly acceptable replacement, and it imports Quicken files. Caveat: I always used PocketQuicken exclusively, not messing with the desktop program. If syncing with desktop Quicken is important to you, that could be a problem

Palm: BigClock iPhone: Clock (native): Every Palm user I know has BigClock. I use it primarily as an alarm clock while traveling, but it also has world time, stopwatch, etc. The iPhone Clock app has the same capabilities built in

Palm: HandyShopper iPhone: GroceryIQ (you'd think they'd have the company name somewhere in the app): HandyShopper is the premiere shopping list program for the Palm. It has legions of devoted fans. And the folks who produce it have made it clear that they're not going to do an iPhone port (more the fools they: thousands of people would pay through the nose for an iPhone version of HandyShopper). GroceryIQ is not a total replacement for HandyShopper, but it does allow you to sort by aisles (as well as making your own custom aisles; put the two together and you can approximate HandyShopper's aisle sort). At the moment GroceryIQ is set up for only one store -- but they say they're working on it. (Oddly, one big concern of iPhone shopping list apps is to have a huge database of pre-entered items, in order to reduce typing. Maybe so; I can type the complete name of a product far faster than GroceryIQ can find the same product in its database.) With effort, one can massage GroceryIQ into about 80% of a HandyShopper replacement -- until some enterprising programmer decides to clone HandyShopper, that's the best we're going to get

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Jack42 said...

What I want to do before I jump from the Palm to an iPhone is this: Can you copy over your contacts, calendar etc to the iPhone. Over 5 years of use my Palm has a huge database of things.

Old_Code said...

You should look at SplashData's SplashID for passwords. They also have a shopping list, but I've not tries it.

Larry said...

Thanks for posting this. For now I'm resisting the inevitable but someday soon I'll have to dump my Palm. Was there ever an answer to Jack42's question on how to transfer info?

I'm thinking of dumping any sort of proprietary database, Palm or iPhone, and going to something that should last much longer (mySQL?). Anyone done anything like that?

EricN95033 said...

You should add Planetarium to Palm OS by Aho to the list of best Palm apps. The iPhone has nothing even close (I bought iStellar and it's just a toy). It's the best astronomy application I have seen on any platform. I am hoping that Aho ports it to the iPhone.

Luis Fernando Estela said...

YES, YES YES!!!, I just have replace my first Palm 5, next Palm TX and now I have the Iphone 32g 3GS. The best way to transfer all the information is: first syncronize Palm with Microsoft Outlook (I have 2003) next install Itunes and then syncronize Iphone with Itunes. When installing your Iphone first time, they ask you with wich program are you going to syncronize, you answer outlook.

For the Handyshopper you can replace it with the Shopper from Mid Century Software, you can buy it for $.99 cents.

You can find this one and thousands of programs for Iphone in

breadbox said...

calender you should try Saisuke. As good as the one on palm. Sync with Google calendar
Memo, Try Bunrui memo. can sync with desktop application (mac only) and you can import from your palm database. as good as the one on palm

Jack42 said...

That's a great tip Luis. I've been hoping someone would comment on this blog about that. Very clever. Only problem is that I don't have outlook since I use a mac!

Kathleen said...

One big question: What are you using to duplicate the Palm search function? Spotlight doesn't search the notes files of Contacts or Calendar. This blog is extremely helpful. I'm also switching from Palm to iPhone. Slowly. Very slowly.

DS said...

EXACTLY! For people with years of data residing in our aging Palm platform/ devices, the issue is not just what iPhone can do but how do we port our massive Palm data bases to the iPhone.

The Outlook trick is a good one but it won't port Palm Memo's as Outlook doesn't have such a category. Only Calendar, Contacts and Tasks.

I also have large DB's in the Palm 3rd party apps: Password's Plus and HandyShopper that presently have no means of porting. Supposedly DataViz is working on porting Password's Plus to the iPhone.

When that happens I will probably make the switch and sacrifice my Palm Memos and Handyshopper data.

You'd think with all the Palm users, there would have been be a lot of money to be made by creating such DB transfer tools.

I know I would pay a lot for such.

If anyone knows anything more please post info here.



breadbox said...

to DS, Well, I think that I mentionned it in my post but with bunruimemo you can import the Memos of your PAlm to the iphone (worked flawlessly for me)

DS said...

Unfortunately I am not on the Mac platform. You were talking about using Bunrui Memo, from Japan, to do the data port correct?

That gives me hope ... if someone has done it for the mac maybe someone has done it for the PC...?

Peggy said...

This is written a good year after the original post, but I think I've found a viable alternative to HandyShopper. Try GroceryGadget. If GroceryIQ is 80%, GG is 98%. Per-store prices and stores, automatic sorting by store order (also alpha, category or manual sort), a field for notes, a place for coupons/sales prices, customizable categories, online interface for data input and sharing, and a lite version with a limit of 20 items and 1 store IIRC. That's sufficient for testing with no investment. The way it works is different, and it took me a while to feel comfortable with it, but I'm pleased. I was a HS user for many years, and thought I'd have to leave it behind, but this is close. Absolutely no affiliation.

Tracy White said...

Thanks for the mention of BunruiMemo. It appears to have been replaced by BashoMemo. Looks to be a very meaty app, can't wait to try this!

gdubin said...

Does anyone have a replacement on iPhone for Docs to Go?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. My Palm TX is starting to fade away and the worry/sadness of losing it has changed to exhilaration at the future prospects. The side-by-side comparisons are exactly what I needed.

breadbox said...

well it seems that bunruimemo and bashomemo are not avalaible anymore.
anyway, I was looking at other replacement in order to find all occurences of words in the text files.
Locnotes (free)looks good but their search engine does not allow to search for partial search terms.
simplenote (free) is the one I want to use, but a bug prevent proper search of big text files. As soon as it will handle that, I will switch.

DS said...

CompanionLink lets you sync Palm Desktop (contacts, calendar, tasks and memos) with iPhone Droid etc.

It's as close a perfect transition from Palm solution as there is or probably will be.

Beyond that I use Docs to Go, ACT Printer (print from computer to phone) and Instapaper (Print/ Save from Web to phone) apps on my iPhone to provide different types of document sync from computer to phone.