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Pre owners complain of lack of onscreen keys

updated 02:30 pm EDT, Thu July 9, 2009

Palm Pre Complaints

Palm Pre owners are ironically complaining that their smartphones don't have onscreen keyboards, a study by Strategy Analytics found today. Despite Palm having added the QWERTY keyboard in response to gripes about touch-only devices like the iPhone, many users want a software keyboard like Apple's, as Palm's design gives them no choice but to use the hardware solution. The opinion holds even for those who chose the Pre for the physical input, senior analyst Paul Brown says.

"Although users liked having a physical QWERTY keyboard, they did not want to have to slide it out every time they wanted to type something," he notes.

Adapting the design might be difficult for Palm, which designed the Pre and webOS with the assumption that a physical keyboard would be present and free up space onscreen for more data. The Eos may partially address the problem by including a fixed physical keyboard, although it should shrink the touchscreen as a consequence.

Apple has long insisted on a virtual-only iPhone keyboard as it lets the company adapt to non-English languages with a single phone model and can be updated with new features without having to revamp the hardware at the same time. It also saves users from having to memorize two-key combinations for special characters.

Beyond the keyboard, Strategy Analytics has still encountered many who were "impressed" with other elements of the Pre, including the concept of using cards for real multitasking; it behaves "like a PC," the researchers have been told. They also liked Synergy, the contact management platform that merges data from the phone, Facebook and Google and links it to the calendar and other apps.

by MacNN Staff



  1. ZinkDifferent

    Joined: Dec 1969



    ... You mean Apple was right in their way of handling virtual keyboards? Who'd have thought!

    Just wait until Palm starts shipping to foreign countries with alternate keyboard needs, or better yet, I will be curious about their support for two-byte character sets (Japanese, chinese, Russian, etc). On the other hand, sure makes greymarketimg their devices a bit harder - "look at my GSM Palm Pre I'm running on AT&T" - 'what's that keyboard?' - "oh, that's Farsi. No
    problem, I only took a few months to learn that")

  1. bearcatrp

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Give them time...

    and they will bow to user demand and build a full face touch phone with the screen keyboard. As with any new device, takes time to tweek it. Web OS is a better functioning OS than whats on the iphone. Wish I could run web OS on my ipod touch.

  1. johnnieboy3

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Read the survey

    This was a poll done by a marketing group. No one was complaining about not having a onscreen keyboard. Rather it was in response to questions in the poll. The poll found that the keyboard was well liked. Some people said they would like an onscreen keyboard so they didnt' have to slide the keyboard out at all times. You even quote that later in your piece. The survey went on to praise everything else....just wanted the negative headline, eh?

  1. infobhan

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not surprising

    Having used a G1, I think the main problem is that you have to slide open the device to access the keyboard. It's annoying when you just want to enter a small amount of text. They could do a hardware keyboard that's always exposed (like the BB). On the other hand, this would make the device larger (or the screen smaller).

  1. ff11

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: Give them time...

    Web OS and the iPhone OS each have their advantages, but the iPhone OS is based on OS X which can multitask quite well. This feature was disabled because Apple deemed it would not be worth the hit to battery life. If battery technology improves, or more efficient hardware comes along, or even if they change their minds or priorities, they can re-enable that feature a lot more easily than Palm can retrofit an on screen keypad.

  1. c4rlob

    Joined: Dec 1969


    To be expected!

    This should've been expected. I immediately saw the Pre as failing in this area from the start. It was obvious that what hard-keyboard fans wanted was a phone that had BOTH iPhone's great virtual keyboard and a physical keyboard, so they could CHOOSE. When the Pre showed up with only a cramped vertical hard-keyboard it should've been obvious that Palm missed the mark big time.

  1. hayesk

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Can someone make one?

    The Pre is open and inifinitely configurable in every way, right? Well, surely someone can make an on-screen keyboard that works in every app on the phone.

  1. slider

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Keyboard Myth

    The people that complained about the lack of a physical keyboard are the people that have used them in the past and had gotten use to them. Here's a news flash !! Tiny Keyboards $uk!! do you actually think that typing on tiny little drops crammed together is any better than typing on glass? I pretty sure I can type as fast and as accurately on my iPhone as any Palm style keyboard. Folks, it's an adjustment - get use to it.

    And I can actually see how it would be annoying to have to open up the keyboard just to type in a two word search in a browser. Whatever - as others have indicated - there'll be an app for that any then people will just start using the onscreen one all together. A bigger deal has been made of the "physical keyboard issue" than is warranted and not surprisingly by non-iPhone carriers which have picked up on grips by owners of older style smartphones. It's called marketing - never take it at face value.

  1. MacnnChester

    Joined: Dec 1969



    The Pre is a very good evolution of a typical smart phone based on plastic keys. That is all it is and its OS doesn't make it expandable enough to do much more.

    The iPhone is a communication device based on apps and graphics and simplicity.

    What the iPhone needs is a physical 30-pin port periferal that gives it physical keys for people who want them. Simple. It is easier for the iPhone to change into a super Pre than for the Pre to change into anything like an iPhone.

  1. Fast iBook

    Joined: Dec 1969



    My only gripe with my iPhone is sites see it sometimes as a mobile device, and present the watered down bs version of a homepage.

    Posted from my iPhone.

    - A

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