mOcean Review

Review: mOcean

May 9, 2006
Ratings: 3 of 5
By: Christopher Meinck

mOcean is a new application that aims to create the look and functionality of an iPod on the Treo 650.

One of the great features of the Palm Treo 650 is its ability to double as an MP3 player. A true convergence
device, there really isn’t much you cannot do with a Treo smartphone. With this in mind, third party developers
have been quick to capitalize on this capability by offering enhanced MP3 players for the Treo. mOcean, developed by MotionApps, is the latest MP3 player offering and it brings the iPod interface to the Treo.

mOcean Treo mp3 Player

Set-up and Installation

Installation of mOcean was very straight-forward. The package comes with:

  • mOcean Installer .prc
  • mOcean Conduit Setup .exe
  • User Manual

Double-clicking on the mOcean .prc file put it into Missing Sync for installation on my Treo. Upon installation, I was greeted with a “Welcome to mOcean” tutorial. This 11 step tutorial covers the various playback controls and options available with mOcean. The second portion of the install is a conduit that allows for conduit synchronization of your iTunes playlists. While that would have been nice, I use Missing Sync which allows me to see my Treo right in iTunes. It doesn’t allow for synchronization of plalists, but I can easily drag and drop tunes to be copied to the Treo. I loaded Van Halen’s 5150 album to a group of songs already on my SD card and was ready to test-drive mOcean.

Looks Like The iPod Interface

The beauty of the iPod is sheer simplicity of the device. A few seconds with an iPod and you’ve mastered the functions. The Click-wheel is central to every action on the iPod. With mOcean, MotionApps has merged the click-wheel and function buttons into
the touch screen of the Treo. It’s reminisent of the 3rd generation iPod which added four button in addition to the click-wheel. Apple eventually reverted back to the click-wheel design with the 4th generation iPod, iPod Photo and now iPod Video.

mOcean interface

A quick trip to the Settings panel allows you to choose between the following options:

  • Mini right: places the iPod “wheel” in the bottom right of the screen with the function buttons on the bottom left
  • Mini left: places the iPod “wheel” in the bottom left of the screen with the function buttons on the bottom right
  • Mini center: iPod “wheel” appears in the bottom center with function buttons to the left and right
  • Vertical: an odd layout because the Song Title appears over the buttons
  • Classic: puts four small function icons above the song playing bar

Surprisingly, I found “Classic” to be nothing like the iPod interface. Gone was the Click-wheel and a circular motion on the screen brought mixed results. Initially, I found the Mini-right user-interface to provide the most “iPod-like” user experience. While using the click-wheel, I found myself bumping into the corner of the screen and transitioned to the “Mini-center”. Still the click-wheel, so central to iPod use, does not offer the same functions on mOcean. On the iPod, ou can move backwards in the menu structure using the click wheel. On a Treo with mOcean, you use the 5-way navigator on the Treo to move backward in menus. Functions outside of the “middle button” in the iPod are denoted using various icons. Again, very similar to the 3G iPod.

iPod 3G

The similarities continue with the fonts and menu structure of mOcean. They’ve also included the familiar aqua progress bar and song ratings.

Rating songs


The touchscreen user interface combined with the 5-way navigator functions surprisingly well. Navigating menus with the 5-way navigator felt very much like the iPod. I cannot say the same for the touch screen functions. The touch screen function menus allow for static functionality. For example, you can use the FF button to move to the next song. However, holding this button will not result in mOcean fast forwarding the song, but rather skipping to the next track. Not being a software developer, I’m guessing it’s difficult to duplicate this using the touch screen. Fast forwarding must be handled by pressing the center of the “click-wheel” to access the progress indicator and using the “click-wheel” to fast forward . Becoming familiar with the combination of touch screen controls and the 5-way navigator was easy enough. When navigating a long list of songs, I found the scroll is a bit choppy. Changing the Sensitivity setting in User Interface didn’t resolve my issue. Instead of allowing me to scroll faster based upon the click wheel motion, it just went entirely too fast. There is a nice option whereby you use the keyboard to find a song quickly. For example, I navigated to the Songs list and typed Why and mOcean moved the selection to “Why Can’t This Be Love?” by Van Halen.

iPod interface on Treo

Managing Your Music

Managing playlists on mOcean can be done using the “On the Go” feature. When scrolling through the songlist, you select the menu button to add them to the “On-the-go” list. You can then navigate to “On-The-Go” and Save this Playlist. This of course is a valuable tool for Mac users without the Windows iTunes conduit. It will enable Mac users to create Playlists on their Mac, but these will not sync to iTunes. For Windows users, the ability to create playlists in iTunes that sync to the Treo using the provided conduit is a big plus. It allows you to select from Playlists to sync to your Treo. Those considering mOcean should investigate SmartLists in iTunes. When creating the SmartList, you could choose to “Limit the size” of the list to fit on your SD Card. For example, ask iTunes to create a Playlist of songs added withing the last 90 days, rated highest and limit the list to 1MB. You can then set mOcean to sync that list.

iTunes Smartlist


mOcean does a fair job of recreating the interface of the 3G iPod. It’s the closest thing you’ll find when looking for an iPod emulator on the Treo. I would have liked to have seen the single click wheel interface duplicated, rather than the 3G iPod interface with multiple function buttons. Take it from someone who owned the 3G ipod, there is a reason Apple discontinued it. Given the high resolution screen of the Treo, I expected mOcean to allow for Album Art display – a feature found in Busker (see review). All in all, while a neat concept, the experience was lost on me. The iPod is successful because of it’s simplicity, ease of use and ultimately this is because of the innovative "click-wheel". For me, the "click-wheel" interface felt awkward with mOcean. The included conduit for synchronization makes it a worthwhile trial for Windows users, but Mac users will want to take a pass.

mOcean retails for $19.95 and a fully functional 5-day free trial is available.

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