Facer Pro Review

Ratings: 4 of 5

Facer is a launcher program that enhances the user interface and functionality of your Treo adding a Today screen reminiscent of the 700w.

Facer

If you’ve hit the home button on your Treo, then you are familiar with the applications launcher that is part of the standard Palm OS. From here, you can access your applications, modify your preferences and neatly organize your applications into categories such as Games, System, Applications, etc. Pressing the Home button rotates through these various categories. Facer is a replacement launcher that looks to upgrade your user interface and make it easier to access frequently used utilities and applications on your Treo.

Treo Application Launcher

Set-up and Installation

Installation of Facer is very easy. You simply download the prc file and hotsync to your Treo. When you first launch Facer, it will install the proper files for use with your Treo. Since Facer is meant to act as a replacement launcher for the standard Palm OS, my first inclination was to map the "Home" button to Facer. However, with the new Treo 700p, this cannot be done without the third party software utility Ludas P.

Upon launching Facer Pro, you immediately notice a drastic and positive change from the Palm Application Launcher. You are introduced to a "Today" screen reminiscent of the Treo 700w. There are a list of upcoming appointments, uncompleted tasks, date and time along with a bevy of icons. This is all set against a very pleasing blue background. With both the Treo 650 and Treo 700p boasting high resolution screens, it was always surprising to me that Palm doesn’t take advantage of this within their Application Launcher interface. Luckily, developers like Pocket Craft are up to the task. Underneath your tasks are mini-icons that allow you to easy access your main applications:

  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • Calculator
  • Memos
  • Tasks
  • Preferences

If there is a note associated with a task, it’s denote with a small yellow icon. Clicking on this provides a snippet of the note. While this feature looks very cool, I only wished there was more of the note contents. As you’ll see by the screenshot, there is only a few words of the note included in the pop-up which dimishes the usefulness of this feature. The Today screen also allows you to add a File Browser gadget allowing access to your files direct from Facer Pro.

Facer Task Not Snippet

The bottom dock of Facer is split into two sections. The right section shows your battery time and memory usage. Facer allows you to customize the dock allowing you to add a variety of icons or "dock gadgets" to further increase your ability to quickly access certain Treo utilities from the dock.

Treo dock pic

There are ten different dock gadgets:

  • Power
  • Refresh Application
  • Beam/Send
  • Lock and shutdown
  • Popup menu
  • Phne Signal
  • HotSync
  • Trash Bin
  • File Browser
  • PocketTunes

The program allows you to add them all, but in reality you can only use five dock gadgets in addition to the battery and memory gadgets. Adding dock gadgets was easily accessible from the preferences menu.

Customize Dock Gadgets

Back to the Launcher

When you first launch Facer Pro, the default is set to the "Today" screen. For most, this is probably the most logical setup. Unlike the Palm Application Launcher, the Today screen doesn’t allow you access to all of your applications. Thankfully, switching to a pure Application Launcher is like most features in Facer is quite easy. Looking at the dock again, the right hand section of the dock allows you to easily toggle between the Today screen and a pure application launcher. Selecting the Application icon displays all of your applications. If you toggle between the Today and Launcher screens, the dock always remains. You can easily rotate through your application categories (ie. Games, System,etc) by pressing the applications icon over and over.

Facer Launcher

Improvements to the Application Launcher

Like other screens in Facer Pro, you can customize the Facer Pro Application Launcher using Launcher gadgets. This icons again allow for easy access to frequently used utilities on your Treo. One of the best features I found was the copy feature. This allows you to easily copy files form your Treo’s internal memory to an external secure digital card. The default installation also provided an information icon and an icon to perform changes to my preferences for Facer Pro.

Copy applications in Facer Pro

Customize the User Interface of Your Treo

Facer Pro comes with only two themes. There are a few themes on their site that are Facer 2.0 compatible, so I’d suspect Pocket Craft will be
updating these to support the latest version of their software. Within Facer’s preferences, you can customize various color settings and use your personal photos as wallpaper. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the quality of icons used in Facer Pro. Beyond a productivity tool, the graphics and icons within Facer Pro are very well designed.

Facer Pro and Treo 700p

There are some issues that exist with version 3.1.1 of Facer Pro and the latest Palm Treo 700p. As I mentioned above, the most effective use for Facer Pro is to map your Home button to Facer Pro. You’ll need an additional software utility, Ludas P, in order to do this with the new 700p. Additionally, I noticed a few things that did not work properly:

  • Dock Gadgets: Some dock gadgets, including the PocketTunes and HotSync dock gadgets did not launch the corresponding application
  • Selecting a hard button on my Treo while within Facer caused a series of sound alerts before launching the particular application.

With the Treo 700p recently shipping, I fully expect Pocket Craft will address these issues and offer a maintenance relase. At that time, I’ll ammend this portion of the review.

Overall

Facer Pro allows you an endless amount of options for customizing the look of your Treo, but most importantly the user interface. The integrated Today screen, customizable gadgets and graphic interface makes it a worthy upgrade for Treo 650 owners. For Treo 700p owners, it’s recommended that you wait until some minor quirks are fixed.

Facer Pro retails for $20.95 and a fully functional 7-day free trial is available.