There's a separate messaging app that houses all your instant, text and multimedia messages. In this folder, you'll be able to see all conversations with a contact in a single, threaded view in chronological order, regardless of message type. The Pre ships with two instant-messaging clients: Google Talk and AOL Instant Messenger. Once you're signed in, you'll also be able to see whether any of your friends are online thanks to a green dot that appears next to their name on the contacts page.
With the email set up, all relevant calendars will also be synced to the Pre and brought into one calendar view via Synergy. Appointments are colour-coded to help you differentiate between different accounts. Alternatively, there's a drop-down menu via which you can view each calendar separately. Like email, the synchronisation of our Outlook and Google calendars was seamless. We also created new events from the device, which automatically synced back to our Outlook and Google calendars.
With all the data that the Pre can handle, searching for items could be a cumbersome and tedious task, but universal search takes care of that problem. From anywhere on the phone, you can start entering a search term and the Pre will look through your contacts, applications, the Web, Google Maps and Twitter. The feature worked well when we searched for contacts, businesses and more general terms, but it's not quite as robust as the iPhone's search in that it doesn't search email headers, the calendar, notes or the music library.
Multitasking and notifications
If there's one area where the Pre has an edge over the current iPhone, G1 and other smart phones, it's in its multitasking and notification capabilities. The much-talked-about deck of cards feature works well, allowing you to keep multiple applications open and running in the background while you're working in another. Like on a computer, you can minimise and maximise tasks by using the centre button and swiping through the various cards. In addition, the aforementioned quick-launch bar makes menu access and launching new apps a snap.
The notifications bar also seamlessly alerts you to incoming or missed calls, new messages, appointments and so forth. The notifications are unobtrusive. Email subject headers and a single-line preview of text messages and IMs will appear in the bar. If a call comes in while you're working in an app, you get an alert along the lower third of the screen and you can accept or ignore the call without having the incoming-call screen overtake the app. You can also immediately open messages or, in some cases, you can interact with the app right from the notifications bar -- for example, fast-forwarding or pausing music tracks in the music player. It's really a well-thought-out system and one of our favourite things about the Pre.