This week I linked to an article by Tom Munch which he wrote 17 years ago. In it he described how he used his Palm IIIc to do many things and Vince popped up with a question-
I enjoyed the walk through memory lane reading you article Tom, thanks a lot! I am curious of what we could do on the PDAs that we can’t do now? I would have thought the opposite!
Tom’s response made me think-
Wow! Lots of things. I could back up my Palm devices to an SD card and could restore in a few minutes. I could selectively back up and restore different apps. I could do a quick lookup of a contact from any app that supported the lookup feature. I could export calendar and memos very easily as well as move data from app to app. I could do quick alarms like I showed in the article with a screenshot. There were apps that had much more sophisticated database functions. With Hackmaster hacks there was quick access to all kinds of things that still aren’t supported in the widgets on iOS or share sheet even with IFTT and Workflow. I’m sure I can think of a dozen more things if I put my mind to it. It just seemed like the sky was the limit. I had to simplify greatly when I switched to a Blackberry and then to an iPhone. I’ve adjusted, but I miss the endless customizations that could be made. Of course it lacked the connectivity and communications. I even miss Graffiti and still cuss at the onscreen keyboard daily when it makes errors.
To me, it would appear on the face of it that Tom should be using an Android phone. When it comes to deep-level flexibility, iOS struggles. Besides apps like Workflow, there is little that the user can do to automate things and customers how the phone actually works.
And then Vince appeared to make the same case-
Apart from the quick contact search from any app, I was looking at my mobile and I can do all of those. I used to use a back up app to back eveything up to my SD card and I could pick and choose which apps to reinstall (I don’t use it any more because the cloud has become good enough to meet my needs now!) I can import and export anything to and from my agenda.To move data from one app to another, I just highlight something, select “share” and I can choose an app or send it in any way I want. I have an app installed which I can call up either last used apps, back, home or (my preferred option) I have selected the apps or actions I use the most. You can choose how many. I just swipe my thumb to the centre, and go to the option I want. It’s a super quick way to get to the app I want. I sort of feel like I still have the flexibility to make my phone what I want!
I haven’t spent too much time recently looking at Android apps, but if there is one thing that iOS is poor at, it is letting you do things in the exact way you want.
For me, the upsides easily outweigh this and we have many, many wonderful app options, but I do get Tom’s argument that the humble PDA from so long ago could do much that has not been explored in modern smartphones.
Vince also said-
I like the music you make btw, Shaun is right, you’re very talented!