Palm to Android Migration

it_overview

Having used our Palm Pilots for 15 years we had accumulated a lot of information in various formats. Part of the challenge of moving to any new platform was to take that data with us.

Over 15 years our Palms had gone everywhere with us and captured the data we chose to keep. There were various formats:

  • Calendar data
  • Address Book or Contact data
  • Word processing (called Memos on the Palm)
  • To Do lists
  • photographs from the PalmPix camera (yes there was a camera for the Palm called PalmPix)
  • applications that ran on the Palm:
    • eWallet
    • Graffiti
    • Handy Shopper
    • HotSync
    • Life
    • PalmReader
    • RPN calculator
  • sailing applications that ran on the Palm:
    • Earth Time
    • Star Pilot ???
    • Tide Tool

We knew that most likely not all our data would be able to move to a new platform and needed to find out which types could. We find some webpages on migrating from Palm to Android such as:

We also found a great program called PalmNote which not only manages notes on the Android the same way as the Palm did but also will import all your memos from the Palm! This program has probably been the biggest life saver in the whole Palm Android migration. It was only released in 2012.

The replacement programs we found for our Palm programs are:
Note: play.com which is administered by Google has been removing a lot of these programs, so our links now go to secondary download sites – see further details in Sources section below.

Palm Built In Applications Android Replacement Backup Method
Address (version 3.5) Contacts SyncMate to Address Book on
Macintosh
Date Book (version 3.5) Business Calendar SyncMate to iCal
on Macintosh
Memo Pad (version 3.5) PalmNote XML import
To Do List (version 3.5) didn’t look for
one, used PalmNote
XML import
photographs from the PalmPix camera built in camera SyncMate
HotSync SyncMate – this never really worked
Other Applications
That Ran On The Palm
eWallet eWallet
Graffiti Graffiti
Handy Shopper To Market
Life The Game of Life
PalmReader Kindle for Android
RPN calculator RealCalc
Sailing Applications
That Ran On The Palm
Earth Time
Star Pilot ???
Tide Tool

When we came to investigate migrating from the Palm to the Android two features of the Palm became very obvious: first was was the loosely integrated environment where three of the four main applicaions (Address, Date Book, To Do List) all could add notes or memos of the identical format as the fourth main application (Memo Pad); and the second was the tightly integrated hand writing recognition system (Graffiti). Once we were working on migrating we realised that on the Android  all replacement applications would be distinct from each other, any close interaction would be more a coincidence rather than something we could count on. We also found out that the Graffiti writing recognition system which became best known through its use on the Palm had been migrated to the Android (although it has not been updated for 18 months and some people are claiming it does not work properly on newer Android hardware).

With the Palm programs could be loaded from anywhere and run. For the Android there is a central repository of apps, called play.com (see note on play.com in the Sources section below) which is administered by Google, it is very rare to find apps anywhere else. There are a number of forums that list apps for the Android but they seem to all link back to play.com for actually downloading the apps. The one main exception is Amazon which has its own App Store. In looking for replacement apps we used Google to search which would often find forums other than play.com but in the end we usually had to download the app from play.com.

Our goal was to replace the programs on the Palm and also migrate our data to the Android. We tried numerous different apps from play.com, some we found on our own, some were mentioned in the web pages we found on Pam-Android migrations. What we present here are the apps that we finally best replaced the Palm programs, other people might prefer different replacement apps depending on how they used the programs on the Palm.

Most of the apps we found in play.com were without cost. Some are completely free (e.g. PalmNote), others have a free version and a piad for version that either has more features or some hindrance (such as advertising) is removed (e.g. Business Calendar) while others only have a paid for version (e.g. eWallet).

One of the assumptions with the Android system is that data backups will be performed using “cloud services.” Years ago, when the world was young, “cloud services” were called data centres and were comprised of large computers with acres of disk drives and air conditioners. Well today it’s not much different, except that the data centre connects to your Android via various wireless networks (e.g. WiFi, Blue Tooth, via the mobile phone). All your data, confidential or not, is backed up there under centralised control. This was not something we were prepared to have and so insisted on finding apps that allowed or provided independent means of backup for your data. This emulates the Palm and the HotSynch backups where you decided when and to which machine to backup your data to. In some instances the developers of the apps did not even know that they could have data backed up independently (say through a program such as SyncMate).

Note: Although we used Macintosh computers to back up our Palms with HotSynch almost exclusively, once or twice we did back them up to Windows computers using HotSynch. It seems that the two versions of PalmDesktop have different file organizations and also different formats inside the files. This means that data migration instructions from Palm to Android differ depending on whether your Palm backup device was a Macintosh computer or Windows computer.

Address

Contacts is a program that is supplied as part of Android which the different manufacturers make small changes to. It contains most of the fields in the Address program along with some new ones.

Migrating the data involved exporting the Address data from the Palm Desktop in vCard format and then importing this into Address Book on the Macintosh. Then we used SyncMate to move the data from Address Book on the Macintosh to Contacts on the Android.

Date Book

Calendar is a program that is supplied as part of Android which the different manufacturers make small changes to. We chose to purchase Business Calendar which uses the Android Calendar database but has much greater functionality. It’s functionality is very similar to Date Book on the Palm.

We chose not to migrate our Date Book data as it seemed easier to re-enter the few events that were upcoming. We re-entered what events were there, forgot the old events (which we rarely looked at) and then used SyncMate to synchronise the data between Business Calendar on the Android and iCal on the Macintosh.

Memo Pad

PalmNote is a program written for Android, it is not distributed as part of Android and is downloadable from play.com. It is designed to perform just as Memo Pad did on the Palm.

PalmNote imports various formats, none of which seemed to be available from our HotSynch backups on the Macintosh – perhaps on the PC things would be different. What we did was took the memos file and inport those into PalmNotes.

To Do List

Once we found PalNotes we didn’t really need the ToDo lists anymore. PalmNotes can carry the data and there are numerous similar apps available for Android.

PalmPix camera

This had always been a novelty. Most Android phones have a built in camera, the quality of which varies which the price of the phone. The quality of the cameras in our 3 Androids have all been mediocre and so we still depend on a dedicated digital camera.

HotSync

This could be replaced by synching into the Google Cloud although we do not use that. We found SyncMate which seems to handle backing up contacts and calendars but beyond that we have had problems. Some programs (e.g. eWaller and PalmNotes) have either files that hold the data which can be copied as a backup or the ability to export data to another file which can be used as a backup.

eWallet

eWallet exists on various platforms although when we were migrating the functionality was not identical on each platform. There was a labourious route by which we could have migrated our eWallet data from the Palm to the Android but in the end it was simpler to re-enter the data. Then because of confusion over differences in abilities in eWallet and eWallet Go we actually had to re-enter the data a second time.

Graffiti

A Japanese firm, seems to have purchased the rights to the Grafitti system. There are 2 versions, one advertising supported and a pay-for version that has no advertising. Some of the user reviews for Grafitti on play.com mention that it does not work on some of the newer Android hardware. It does seem to be less accurate on our newest phone. The developer website has not been updated since late 2011 and it would be a shame if this software is lost through developer inactivity.

Handy Shopper

Handy Shopper made the decision that the future lay with iOS on iPhones and iPads and announced he would only develop for iOS and not Android. As a replacement we found ToMarket which has both free and piad for versions. It is not identical to Handy Shopper in functionality.

Palm Reader

Although the PalmReader eBook reader could be replaced by Kindle fo Android, we actually bought hardware Kindles and have all our electronic publications on them now. We have a page on Kindles and their benefits here.

RPN Calculator

There are numerous calculators available for Android, we chose RealCalc which has everything that was in RPM Calculator on the Palm, everything we needed, and more.

  • Data Switch is essential to control data usage if your telephone plan has aggressive data charges.

Most programs worked out OK, there were differences but that was obviously to be expected. One thing we never achieved was the ease of use of the “one button” HotSynch backups. We purchased the program iSync but eventually gave up on it as it never seemed to work. We had support issues, they never got back on them in a timely fashion. So you were left wondering if you really did have a dependable backup or not. We finally gave up on iSync and contacted the app manufacturers to ask what files we copy off to make our backups. We do miss the “one button” HotSynch backups though.

With programs like Google Sky available there is no question of the immense increase in power between the Palm and the Android. But 3 areas the Android still lags are:

  • “one button” backups
  • infra-red beaming (or some equally capable alternative)
  • integration of apps

So, yes, it has been quite an increase in the user experience, but no it hasn’t been without some things being lost.

  • play.com is administered by Google.com, they now seem to be removing software for older versions of Android, so we also list the following alternate download sites:
  • apkpure.com provides downloads for Android software in APK form
  • apkfollow.com provides downloads for Android software in APK form
  • apkmirror.com provides downloads for Android software in APK form
  • androidapkfree.com provides downloads for Android software in APK form
  • apkcombo.com provides downloads for Android software in APK form

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