TAKEphONE Review

by Reads (7,955)

ShSh Software’s TAKEphONE acts as replacement for the Contacts and Phone application on Palm OS smartphones. It can also act as Contacts replacement for classic PDAs, and on those devices can be used to send SMS or dial an external cellular phone using Infrared or Bluetooth.

Find

When starting TAKEphONE you notice on the bottom of the screen a bar allowing you to choose from five different views. These can be selected using your stylus, but you can also choose to use the Phone button to cycle and/or skip them. The skipping and sequence of cycling is something which can be set in the preferences screen.

The one which I use the most — and which is the most powerful — is the Find view. Here you can use the keyboard or Graffiti to search for contacts.

TAKEphONE

Find View
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This search can be done in the classical way just as Contacts works (Last Name/First Name or Company/Last Name); however, on the other extreme you can also break all barriers and set a preference to search all fields and even within content of those fields if you want to.

The moment you start entering letters, the result list is being updated with all possible combinations matching the search string you have entered so far. An error can be corrected quite easily using Back, after which the result list is updated, again on the fly.

Entering text does not have to be done with the keyboard or Graffiti; there is also a T9 style on-screen keyboard which can be used, facilitating one-handed operation. This is very useful, especially on non-keyboard devices. All possible combinations for all letters on the key which has been pressed are shown when searching.

The search feature also allows for an "AND" operation, which allows you to enter a part of a search string, then enable AND (using on screen button or pressing Space) and enter a second part of the search string. This will result in multiple fields being queried where only those records are being shown where the different parts of the search string are belonging to separate fields (e.g. You can enter two letters of a first name and one letter of the last name).

Also worthwhile to note is that you do not need to refine the search up to the level where only one record is being shown. You can always browse through the result list and pick directly the record you want. This is sometimes faster than completely narrowing down the search, especially when less than a screen full of records is being displayed.

Selecting the contact using the Green button will result in the contact being dialed or emailed if your preferences are set this way. Otherwise, selecting it will open a view where you can select what to do: open (to edit), SMS, send (using Bluetooth or Infrared if your device is equipped with this feature), schedule a call (which then will be setup as an appointment or task, depending how you configured this in preferences) or use a navigation program to search its location (haven’t really played with that last feature).

TAKEphONE

Find in Action
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It is not that easy to explain in full detail how powerful this search feature is, but in my opinion this alone is already worth TAKEphONE’s registration fee, since you will quickly gain it back by saving yourself valuable time.

The following picture shows a search for the characters "J DO". As you can see items are returned having those characters in either first name, either last name and not necessarily starting from the beginning of the field.

The Find view itself can be further enriched with other information like the number of emails or text messages you have received, the next upcoming appointment, the last number dialed (inbound, outbound or missed) and an i-bar (see further). All these info sources can be individually enabled or disabled from being shown through a preference setting.

Other Views

TAKEphONE’s other views are DialPad, Speed Dial, Redial, and Call Log.

TAKEphONE

Dialpad View
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Dialpad speaks for itself; it will show an on screen representation of a T9 style keypad you can use to dial a number using your stylus, your thumb, or the keyboard.

Speed dial is similar to the feature as offered in the standard Phone application. You can assign up to 99 entries to be used as a speed dial. Whenever that button is hit, the relevant number is dialed or the application is launched. You can also assign speed keys to those entries, but be advised a key which is normally used to enter a number or a letter can only be used once (example: using 2 or R will result in the same speed key being launched). If you want to use a speed key, you need to hold it down until the program acknowledges it has recognized that particular key.

Redial is also straightforward, here you can select a number from a list of 10 most recently used phone numbers. You can select the number to edit or view details, or use the Green button to call.

TAKEphONE

Call Log
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Call Log uses the standard call log features present in any Palm OS 5 Treo and therefore can only be used on smartphones (not on standalone PDAs). You can see a list of all incoming, outgoing, or missed calls and even conference calls.

Each of these categories can be filtered and you can even search within the list for contacts matching a certain pattern. The picture at left shows an active filter for the character sequence ‘wi’.

For further data mining capabilities, users of a 680 can use a program called MyCallLog (see earlier review).

Navigation

On the main screen the 5-way navigator normally makes you switch screens. There is also a preference setting where you can change this behavior so pressing left or right first enables normal 5-way navigation.

However there is a problem (and be aware this is a pet peeve of mine): 5-way navigation is not possible in the preferences screens. You HAVE to use your stylus and/or finger to set the various settings.

Now, setting up the environment is something which you normally do not do on a day-to-day basis, but still I find it is a big enough issue to be mentioned.

I discussed this with the developer, he said he is aware of it, and that this was a clear design choice he made when he started this application for the same reason I mentioned before: normally you do not go into preferences that much. This allowed him to focus on adding other features. He did mention, though, the door was left open to add it some time in the future.

i-Bar

TAKEphONE

i-Bar Settings
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The i-Bar is to be seen as another way of accessing speed keys but this time in a dynamic graphical environment using a horizontal banner of buttons. You can choose to have the contact or application be represented as a picture, an icon or simple text.

Using the left/right controls, the i-bar will rotate to display the next set of buttons. Personally I believe this is a nice addition to the program which can be very useful for quite a lot of people.

A very nice feature is you can select to have a particular i-Bar entry as a shortcut in your standard application launcher. Selecting it from there will then immediately result in the contact being dialed or the application being launched.

People registering TAKEphONE also get the ability to use the i-Bar feature on other applications like 2day, Initiate (aka Propel), and DateBk6.

Calling Cards

More and more people are traveling around, and not only within their own country but also abroad, be it for work or pleasure. In such a situation it can be required to use a calling card to ‘optimize’ communication costs, but most of the time it is quite a hassle to use these. You need to dial the local access number, then your personal number, then a password, and only then you can enter the number of the person you want to contact.

TAKEphONE has built-in support for using such cards. This can be enabled through setting up a profile (which then would make all calls using this feature) or through checking a set of rules which would result in a certain number to be called using a specific calling card.

Users having an i500 from Samsung have to install a specific hack to enable this feature on their device if wanted (see installation below).

Installation

The zip file contains few items, which makes installation rather straightforward. If you want to start immediately with this application can do so by simply installing the main PRC file.

However, there are some sub-folders in the ZIP package. The first one contains utilities for older devices (read: pre-Palm OS 5) or the Samsung i500 smartphone to enable support for using calling cards.

Two other folders contain some skins which can be used for low- or high-res devices. The last folder contains an icon set which can be used for the i-Bar.

Support

Normally this is not part of a review, but I believe it belongs here. Shimon Shnitzer, the author of TAKEphONE, is in my view to be placed in the same league as CESD from PimlicoSoftware — author of Datebk5/6 and DbFixIt. People familiar with CESD know this counts for a lot.

Shimon is very responsive when it comes to resolving support issues or commenting on the viability of a new feature. As an example, he resolved an issue I had with my Contacts database which had NOTHING to do with TAKEphONE (or any of his other products), and that was even before I offered to do a review of this application.

TAKEphONE is overall a very stable product and it still is being enhanced/updated rather frequently. In case some issues should arise with any of the intermediate versions, it is good to know they will be addressed on a short term.

Conclusion

Pro:

  • a complete replacement for Phone/Contacts on a Smartphone device, also very usable on a classic PDA
  • extremely good search feature
  • i-Bar: visual list of speed keys which can also be used as shortcuts from your launcher
  • built-in support for using calling cards
  • very good support

Con:

  • Not 100% supporting 5-way navigation, and some trade-offs were made. There is a feature to enable 5-way nav in the main application, but 5-way navigation does not work in the preferences screens.

TAKEphONE is available from Brighthand Software Store, and costs $19.95 USD. As usual, there is a trial version that will let you evaluate this application.

 


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