What is PDA used for?

According to abbreviationfinder, PDA stands for Personal Digital Assistant. Also called (Personal Digital Assistant) is a small device that combines a Computer, telephone/ Fax, Internet and Network Connections. They are also called palmtops, hand held computers, and pocket computers. A typical PDA can function as a cell or mobile phone, fax machine, internet browser, personal organizer, GPS, etc. Most PDAs began to be used with a kind of pen instead of a keyboard, so they incorporated handwriting recognition. Today’s PDAs can have a keyboard and/or handwriting recognition. Some PDAs can even react to speech, using speech recognition technologies.


Today, a typical PDA has at least a touch screen to enter information, a memory card to store it, and at least one wireless connection system, be it infrared, Bluetooth, or Wi- Fi. The software required by a PDA usually includes a calendar, a directory of contacts and some program to add notes. Some PDAs also contain support for browsing the web and checking E-mail.

Touch screen

PDAs often have touch screens for navigation. Many PDAs, such as the Apple Newton and Palm Pilot, have touch screens for user interaction, so they have very few buttons reserved for opening the most used programs. PDAs with this screen usually have a detachable pen, with which all tasks are performed. To add text, one of the following methods is usually used:
• A virtual keyboard is used, and to add the letters you have to touch each one of them.
• An external keyboard connected via USB or Bluetooth can be connected.
• Using letter or word recognition, and then translating them into letters within the selected text box.
• Using symbol recognition, where a certain group of symbols represents a letter. These symbols are usually easy to remember.

PDAs designed for business use, such as the BlackBerry or the Treo, have full keyboards and scrolls for easy data entry, rather than using a touch screen. Newer PDAs like the IPhone or IPod Touch include a new user interface with other means of input. These PDAs use a technology called Multi-touch.

Memory cards

Although some PDAs do not use Memory Cards, most now allow the use of SD cards. In addition, a few have a USB port. For a small footprint, some PDAs also offer MiniSD or MicroSD cards.

Wired connectivity

Although some older PDAs connected to the PC using a serial cable, most now use a USB cable. In addition to allowing connection to the computer, they serve as power supply ports, especially USB.

Wireless connectivity

Many of the modern PDAs have Bluetooth connectivity, this allows you to connect external keyboards, headsets, GPS and many more accessories. In addition, a few have Wi-Fi connectivity, this allows us to connect to Wireless Networks and allow us to access the Internet. The old PDAs also had an infrared port, however very few of the current ones have this technology, since it is very slow. Infrared allows connectivity between two PDAs (the topology used in Infrared, bluetooth and in the interconnection between PDAs is ad hoc) or with any other accessory that has one of these ports. Most of today’s PDAs have 3G connectivity, which enables high-speed Internet access virtually anywhere as well as functionality as an advanced mobile phone, a term better known as a smartphone.


One of the most important functions of PDAs is synchronization with Personal Computers. This allows updating of the directory, making the information of the computer and the PDAs the same. Synchronization also prevents the loss of stored information in the event the accessory is lost, stolen, or destroyed. Another advantage is that information can be entered much faster from the computer and then transmitted to the device. The synchronization is done through a program provided by the manufacturers, the best known are the HotSync Manager (Palm OS), ActiveSync (Windows XP); Windows Mobile Device Center (for Windows Vista and 7) and iTunes (iPhone OS).


PDAs are used to store information that can be consulted at any time and in any place. These devices are generally used in the home, however they can also be found in other fields.

Automotive uses

Many PDAs are used in vehicles to be able to use GPS, and this is why it is becoming more and more common to find them by default in many new vehicles. Some systems can also display traffic conditions. The most common programs in Europe and the United States to do this are TomTom, Garmin and iGO showing environments in 2 and 3 dimensions.

Medical uses

In medicine, PDAs have been used to make diagnoses or to choose the most appropriate medications.

Uses in education

In recent years, PDAs have become very common, which is why they have begun to be used in certain educational institutions so that students take notes. This has allowed the increase in student productivity, since it allows the rapid correction or modification of information. In addition, thanks to these devices, teachers are able to transmit material through the Internet taking advantage of the wireless connectivity of PDAs.
Currently (2010) PDAs have lost the boom they had in their beginnings, since they are beginning to be replaced by smartphones, which integrate all the functions of PDAs with the functions of a mobile phone, in addition to many others. functions.

PDA operating systems

The PDA market is basically divided between those that run the Palm operating system (the device itself does not necessarily have to be of the Palm brand to carry this operating system) and those that run the Microsoft system, Pocket PC. The former are usually cheaper and easier to use. Those equipped with the Microsoft system, on the other hand, have more multimedia options (they allow you to watch videos and listen to music, although in a limited way due to their low memory) but they are more expensive and use more batteries. In any case, in both systems, unlike a home computer, PDAs turn on and off instantly and do not need to “save” changes. Everything is stored automatically.

It is common to differentiate PDAs based on their operating system:
• Palm (formerly Palm Pilot) use the operating system Palm OS (from PalmSource, Inc.) – 40.7% of the market.
• Pocket PCs, use the Windows Mobile operating system (from Microsoft) – 40.2% of the market.
• BlackBerry use their own operating system for BlackBerry – 14.8% of the market.
• Linux – 1.9% of the market.
• Others – 2.4% of the market.

Daily update

The key is that most of these programs maintain a fluid conversation with their older brothers on the home computer. Every time a PDA is connected to the user’s computer (it should be done every day), the data of both is synchronized. Thus, for example, the appointments of both devices are updated, Word documents made at home can be corrected on the bus and the electronic agenda is loaded with the daily press to read it with ease in any cafeteria.

The pending subject of these devices is the inclusion of texts. Anyone who has ever dealt with a mobile phone to send a short message (even more so if they have surfed the Internet using WAP), you know how excruciatingly slow it is to type on such a small device. PDAs try to make up for the lack of a keyboard to use in various ways. The most widespread is graffiti: the user writes each letter on the screen with a special pencil in a predefined way, thus, it is easy for the agenda to discern what they wanted to write.

Other planners opt for small built-in keyboards, which are often unwieldy. For the more demanding, there are tiny folding keyboards that hook onto the bottom of the PDA; They are very comfortable, although somewhat expensive. However, what seems to be the definitive option is still far away: the possibility of writing to dictation.


The current trend is towards the integration of all the small electronic devices that are carried on one’s back. And it is that if not, the future threatens that they will not reach the pockets to supply so much electronic china.

There are already telephones on the market that function as electronic agendas (Nokia 9310, Ericsson R380), PDAs that function as telephones (Handspring Treo), telephones with a built-in music player (Siemens M-45) and music players with agenda functions (Apple iPod).

Add to this digital cameras, GPS (global positioning satellite systems) and wireless Internet connections, and the result can be an electronic all-in-one with everything a user needs for digital life.