Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pre webOS 1.4.0 Battery Test: Part 2

My Palm Pre battery test continues. It's about 6:30pm and my Pre is reporting that the battery is now at 84% with little use since about 2:00pm today.

So far, I have been losing 4% charge an hour. I haven't made any phone calls or used the phone to play games or surf the web. The only thing that has been going on with the phone is scheduled sync check with my single Gmail account.

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Pre webOS 1.4.0 Battery Test

Improved battery life is one of the reported enhancements in Palm webOS 1.4.0. I've decided to put the battery improvements to the test.

It's just after 2:00pm and my Pre has 100% charge. Wi-Fi is off, as is Bluetooth. I have one Gmail account (email, calendar, and contacts) configured to sync items as they arrive. We'll see how things are going in a few hours.

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Palm webOS 1.4.0 Impressions

With webOS 1.4.0, Palm has introduced over 70 new feature enhancements and fixes to their customers. I installed the update on my Sprint edition Pre and have spent some time playing with it. What follows are my impressions of some of the new features you can look forward to in webOS 1.4.0.

YouTube Links in App Catalog

The new App Catalog now allows developers to embed a link to a YouTube video of their application in action as seen here for ETI Studios Dice Tower application. Just tap on the video link to the upper right of the screen an the video loads up in webOS' YouTube player application. That's a nice feature since I almost never go to a YouTube page to view a video of a webOS or iPhone application in action before I buy.

Device Info

With this release of webOS, Palm has given their customers more control about how data is destroyed on a Pre or Pixi. There are now three types of data deletion options to delete applications and their data, everything from the USB drive partition, and a secure full erase (which erases apps, data, and the USB drive).

I think these features are important with so much focus on privacy today. You will want to use these features when you send your phone in for repair (don't forget to back up first!), swap phones (for personal or corporate use), or give away or sell your phone when you get a new one. You won't believe how many times over the last 10 years I have been told about stories of people buying a used phone and it still having the previous owner's data still on it.

Blink Notifications

This is a feature I have been waiting for since June 6, 2009 - Not that I've been counting the days, hours, and minutes or anything like that!

Finally, finally, you can receive a visual notice that your Pre or Pix wants to get your attention when the screen is off! When there is a new message waiting for you, like an unread email, the Center button on my Sprint Pre now blinks twice, waits four seconds, and then blinks again.

Startup Card

This new "feature" drives me nuts. Before this feature was baked, or perhaps half-baked, into webOS, I never thought that app load times where longer then any other smartphone. Now I have a graphic that gets in my face every time I launch a new application that reminds me that I have to wait for my application to load. Ugh! I hate the start up card because I almost always flick cards away when I'm done using an app, so I start apps up all the time. Hopefully, we'll be given an option to turn this option off in a future release of webOS.

Improved Performance and Battery Life

I don't have a screen shot for this one. I just hope that Palm continues to work on these issues. There are times when I'm left wondering what the hell my Pre is doing as I wait there wondering if the phone accepted my touch or keyboard command. I would like to see Palm's software engineers to continue to improve the peppiness of webOS.

Battery life is my #1 gripe with the Pre and webOS, bar none. It is a serious problem in my book when a phone battery does dead in anything less than 48 hours. When I was using my Palm Treo 700p, Treo 755p, the BlackBerry Curve, and even now with my HTC Droid Eris, I can go a full two days without having to worry about charging my phone. With the Pre and webOS, I start to worry about the battery about happy hour. It's hard to use your phone for social networking when the battery is dead. But more importantly than that, if I forget to put the Pre on my Touchstone charging base, I shouldn't wake up in the morning to a dead phone. That is just the pits and I refuse to carry around another $50 battery to get the same run time as my older phones have right now.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are a number of nice things included in this release of webOS. There are more features that I like than things I find annoying, and at the end of the day, I'll get over them. If you like to have the latest and greatest software on your phone, download this update now using the Updates application.

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Palm webOS 1.4.0 Update Arrives

The Palm webOS 1.4 update has finally showed up as being available for install on my Sprint Palm Pre this morning.

Palm's management had said that the update would be rolled out in February during their CES press event last month. The update weighs in at 39MB.

Update
As of right now, the 1.4.0 update is only available for webOS Pre and Pixi phones from Sprint, O2 UK, O2 DE, O2 Ireland, and Movistar networks. If you have a Palm webOS phone on Verizon, Bell, or other carrier, you are going to have to wait a little longer for the certification testing to be completed.


The webOS 1.4.0 update does not include any new applications, however, it does include some 70+ documented updates to Palm's mobile operating system. This update includes the following fixes and enhancements:

Calendar
  • You can customize calendar notification sounds in Preferences & Accounts. The options include Mute, System Sound, Ringtone, and Vibrate. The Ringtone option includes new notification sounds to give you more customization choices.

  • If you create an event and enters a phone number as the event name, location, or description, you can tap the phone number on the event details screen to dial it.

  • A new Sync Now application menu item gives you a second way to manually synchronize your calendar accounts (in addition to the Sync Now button in Preferences & Accounts).

  • This release improves Calendar synchronization performance in poor network coverage areas to optimize battery life. It also increases the default interval for synchronizing with online calendar accounts other than Exchange accounts.

  • This release contains improvements to the visual calendar display, including a clearer indicator of AM and PM and improved current time display.
Camera
  • You can record video whenever and wherever inspiration strikes with the new camcorder feature in Camera. After recording a video, you can edit the clip in Videos, upload the video directly to YouTube or Facebook, or send the video by email or multimedia message.
Contacts
  • If you import a Mac Address Book contact, all contact fields display correctly in the Contacts application.

  • This release improves Contacts synchronization performance in poor network coverage areas to optimize battery life. It also increases the default interval for synchronizing with online contacts accounts other than Exchange accounts.
Device Info
  • You now have two partial erase options: Erase Apps & Data, which erases all installed applications and associated data, and Erase USB Drive, which erases files stored on the USB drive.

  • This release includes a new Secure Full Erase option. A secure full erase takes considerably longer than a regular full erase.
Email
  • You can customize calendar notification sounds in Preferences & Accounts. The options include Mute, System Sound, Ringtone, and Vibrate. The Ringtone option includes new notification sounds to give you more customization choices.

  • If the message body contains a phone number and you tap and hold the number, a menu appears displaying options to Call, Text, or Add To Contacts (if the number is not already saved in a contact).

  • This release includes multiple performance improvements in Email, including improved handling of message replies and forwarded messages and quicker response times to gestures.
Location Services (GPS-enabled features)
  • If you turn off the Use GPS and Use Google Services options under the Locate Me Using application menu item, the Locate Me Using menu item remains available.
Messaging
  • You can attach a video to an outgoing multimedia message.
Phone
  • You can tap the contact photo or icon in a call history entry to display options for that entry, including dialing an alternate number, sending a text message, opening a contact, or adding the number as a contact. The expanded display also includes call details such as call length and phone number type.
Screen & Lock
  • New blink notifications (a blinking light in the gesture area) alert you when email, text message, or other notifications arrive. You clear the blink notification by turning the screen on and off or unlocking the screen. The blink notification preference is on by default; you can turn it off in Screen & Lock > Blink Notifications.
Sounds & Ringtones
  • This release adds new user-selectable notification sounds under Ringtone.
System (overall enhancements to webOS)
  • This release offers better overall performance, including faster loading time for apps and increased battery life across a wider range of user scenarios.

  • If you are playing a game and a phone or calendar notification arrives, the game pauses while the notification is coming up.

  • You can quickly unlock the screen by dragging up from the gesture area across the onscreen lock icon.

  • This release improves the speed of downloading applications and files.
Videos
  • You can upload a recorded video to YouTube or Facebook on the web.

  • You can edit recorded video. You can also delete recorded video, video copied from a computer, or video received as an attachment to an email message.

  • If you tap the option to share an uploaded video, you have the option to send the link via email, text message, or Facebook.
Wi-Fi
  • A new Sleep Settings application menu item allows you to change a setting so that if Wi-Fi is on and the phone screen turns off, the Wi-Fi feature turns off. By default, if Wi-Fi is on and the screen turns off, the Wi-Fi feature stays on.

The full change log for the webOS 1.4.0 update can be found on the Palm webOS update website.

Installing the Update

Sprint customers can install the Palm webOS 1.4.0 update right now by using the Updates application on their phone. Customers can also wait for their Pre or Pixi to download the update in the background automatically and then install the update when the download is complete.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Palm Updates Guidance

Earlier today, Plam issued a new guidance for Q3FY10, stating that the revenues for the smartphone maker will be below previous estimates.

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Feb 25, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Palm, Inc. (NASDAQ:PALM) today indicated that it expects that revenues for the third quarter of fiscal year 2010 will be in the range of $285 million to $310 million on a GAAP basis and in the range of $300 million to $320 million on a non-GAAP basis.1 Revenues for the quarter and full year are being impacted by slower than expected consumer adoption of the company's products that has resulted in lower than expected order volumes from carriers and the deferral of orders to future periods. Accordingly, Palm expects fiscal year 2010 revenues to be well below its previously forecasted range of $1.6 billion to $1.8 billion. The company will provide more detail on its financial results during Palm's third-quarter financial results conference call currently scheduled for Thursday, March 18.
"Palm webOS is recognized as a groundbreaking platform that enables one of the best smartphone experiences available today, and our work to evolve the platform and bring industry-leading technology to market continues. However, driving broad consumer adoption of Palm products is taking longer than we anticipated," said Jon Rubinstein, chairman and chief executive officer. "Our carrier partners remain committed, and we are working closely with them to increase awareness and drive sales of our differentiated Palm products."

The Company expects to close its third fiscal quarter with a cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments balance in excess of $500 million.


Analysis

This can't be good news for Palm, who has been struggling over the last two years to transform their business both from a technology standpoint and a revenue standpoint. Over the last three years, Palm completely changed their management team, infused the company with a number of tech company A-list talent, and completely revamped their smartphone and mobile operating system software.

However, many people where critical of what was pent up demand for the original Palm Pre smartphone which when on sale with exclusive launch partner, Sprint, back on June 6, 2009. Many customers on Verizon, which only recently began selling the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus, and AT&T simply had no way of getting new Palm hardware except to jump carriers which has become an extremely costly proposition for customers in today's depressed economy.

I personally believe that Palm took too long to bring the Pre to Verizon as the Pre Plus and that their six month exclusive agreement with Sprint went on too long. It didn't help that the second Palm webOS smartphone, the Pixi, also started out life on Sprint as an exclusive. Customers on AT&T and T-Mobile still don't have access to a branded Palm smartphone.

Lastly, Palm is fighting an uphill battle against white hot brands like the Apple iPhone 3G S, the Motorola Droid, and the BlackBerry Storm2. Palm is going to have to get more phones out to more carriers and into the hands of customers sooner rather than later. That means Palm should pick up the pack and get the distribution deal with AT&T in place and grow the regions around the world that have access to Palm's products.

It looks like FY2011 is going to continue to be difficult for Palm. Palm's stock closed the day at $6.53 with a number of investment firms changing their buy ratings to sell.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Rumor: Flash Support Coming to webOS in February

PreCentral.net is reporting that having native Adobe Flash support on Palm webOS devices like the Pre could become a reality later this month.
"Palm and SFR held their French launch event last night and reports on the ground bring good news: Palm employees specifically said that Flash would be available in February. Previously we had been a little unsure of that, what we knew for sure was that webOS 1.4 would lay the underpinning for it, but the actual release (which is coming in the App Catalog) was less clear."

Sounds cool if it's true and would be a cool trick since the iPhone can't handle embedded Flash content in web pages.

You can read the full article over on PreCentral.net.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Palm Pixi Hands On Review

The Palm Pixi is the Palm's low-cost, consumer friendly Palm Centro replacement. I have been test driving the Sprint Palm Pixi for the last two weeks. The following are my impressions of Palm's new webOS powered smartphone.

[Editor’s Note: Starting today, January 25, 2010, Verizon Wireless will begin selling the new Palm Pixi Plus. The Sprint Pixi and the Verizon Pixi Plus are identical phones with the exception that the Verizon edition hardware includes a Wi-Fi 802.11b/g radio.]

The Hardware

I was really impressed by the size and weight of the Pixi when compared with other phones from Palm. The difference is noticeable as soon as you pick it up. The Pixi seemed much lighter than my Palm Treo 755p. I was also impressed by the thickness of the Pixi. Compared with my 2G Apple iPhone, the Pixi was the same high and thickness. The Pixi is slightly more narrow than the iPhone. The physical keyboard on the Pixi is completely usable, however, I found the Palm Pre’s keyboard to be more roomy and also felt more sturdy. The Pixi keyboard’s tactile feedback was good, and you know that you pressed a key, which is something you don’t get from an on screen virtual keyboard. If you plan on sending a lot of email or text messages, you will appreciate the Pixi’s hardware keyboard.

The Pixi’s 320x400 pixel screen measures 2.63-inches. I found the screen to deliver a sharp, crisp image and I had no trouble reading the screen. Viewing photos, watching video, or even surfing the web was easy on the eyes.

Starting with the Pixi, Palm has chosen to remove the center button that appeared on the Sprint edition Palm Pre. If you have never used a Palm Pre before, you will never miss the center button. To zoom out of the current application card on the Pixi, simply flick your finger upward from the gesture area to the screen. To zoom back in, tap the card you want to bring to the foreground.

For the Pixi, Palm included an EVDO Rev A CDMA cellular radio, a GPS receiver, Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR and A2DP support, 8GB of storage space (about 7GB is available for use), and a 2MP camera with LED flash. The You won’t however, find Wi-Fi or an microSD card slot in the Pixi.

The Palm Pixi has an 115mAh removable battery. During my test period, I was able to use the Pixi for about about 14-16 hours before I started to think about where I could plug in the phone to charge up. I had the Pixi checking 5 different email accounts on varying schedules, I referred to my personal and business calendars frequently, snuck in the Smartphone Fanatics Facebook page and Twitter accounts, and surfed the web. During my day, I don’t spend much time talking on the phone. Milage will vary with your usage pattern. In my opinion, if you like to talk, send a lot of text or email messages, or surf the web constantly, you will want to carry a charging cable or a spare battery with you. (I recommend the same thing for Pre owners.) I did like the rubber microUSB port cover. I am always concerned that I am about to break the door off my Palm Pre each time I connect my Pre to my MacBook to access the USB storage partition. Thanks to the Pixi’s rubber door, I wasn’t worried that I would break the phone.

The Software

The Palm Pixi is the second smartphone from Palm to run their new Palm webOS operating system. My demo Pixi was delivered to me running Palm webOS 1.3.5.1, the same version of webOS that I am running on my Palm Pre.

Palm webOS is a modern mobile operating system that retains all of the ease of use that made Palm OS devices so easy to use. Synergy, the data synchronization technology built into webOS, keeps all of your data organized and in sync on your phone. You will be able to easily access your corporate Microsoft Exchange account, Google Gmail account, Yahoo account, as well as your Facebook account and standard POP/IMAP email accounts.

Universal Search is another major improvement over the search feature in Palm OS. Universal Search will not only sift through your contacts, but also searches your email, the applications on your phone and offers to continue the search on Google, Google Maps, Wikipedia, or Twitter if the search term can’t be located on your phone. Universal Search is a powerful feature that I use every day to quickly locate information on my phone or to launch applications.

For those folks who like to have all of their stuff with them all the time, the Pixi comes preloaded with useful applications for taking pictures, playing music and audio files, accessing Facebook, and viewing Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat documents. Today you can only view Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files on the Pixi, however I understand that DataViz is working on a full version of Documents To Go for Palm webOS. Palm has done a good job writing the Synergy interface with Facebook. When you login to your Facebook account after downloading the client from the Palm App Catalog (think Apple’s App Store), Synergy downloads your contact information in the Pixi’s local contacts database. I’m hopeful that a more feature rich version of the Facebook application will be released by Palm soon. While the Facebook contacts integration does work well, and the status feed is OK, there are many other features of Facebook that you simply can not access from the webOS client. Heavy Facebook users will want to access the mobile Facebook site, x.facebook.com, if they want to do more than just update their status or comment on their friend’s status.

Conclusion

After spending a few weeks with the Sprint Palm Pixi, I am convinced that it is a good low cost, consumer smartphone that can do double duty as a business phone. The Pixi’s small candy bar form factor means that you will carry it with you all the time. The lack of Wi-Fi on the Sprint edition Palm Pixi shouldn’t be a deal breaker for most people as the Sprint EVDO network is fast enough in most cases. Depending on how you use your phone, battery life could be an issue.

Pricing and Availability

The Sprint Palm Pixi is available now for $99.99 when you purchase it directly from Sprint after a $200 instant savings and a $100 mail in rebate when you also sign up for a qualifying 2-year service agreement. The Sprint Palm Pixi costs $399.99 when you purchase it without a service plan. You can save yourself some extra money if you shop around for the best deal on a new Pixi. For example, Amazon is selling the Pixi for $24.99 when you sign up for a 2-year service plan.

For more information about the Palm Pixi for Sprint, visit the Palm website.

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Palm Pre Plus, Pixi Plus Go On Sale Today

The new Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus, introduced during this month's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vega goes on sale today for the Verizon Wireless cellular network.

Verizon Wireless, the company with the largest and most reliable wireless voice and 3G data network, announced today that Palm Pre Plus and Palm Pixi Plus will be on store shelves and ready for purchase. The Palm Pre Plus will cost $149.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate, and the Palm Pixi Plus will cost $99.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate, each with a new two-year customer agreement. Buy a Palm Pre Plus or a Palm Pixi Plus and get a Palm Pixi Plus free after a mail-in rebate through Feb. 14.

Both Palm Pre Plus and Palm Pixi Plus come travel-ready with a built-in 3G Mobile Hotspot – a Wi-Fi hotspot that can be shared among five Wi-Fi-capable devices. The 3G Mobile Hotspot is the perfect family vacation companion, and at $40 for 5 GB and 5 cents per megabyte overage, it provides an allowance big enough for sharing with the entire family for downloading games, Internet access and more.

Paired with Verizon Wireless’ new Nationwide Talk or Nationwide Talk & Text plans and a $29.99 monthly data plan, Palm Pre Plus is the perfect tool for the busy family manager, while Palm Pixi Plus is the perfect complement to a youngster as part of a Family SharePlan. Verizon Wireless Nationwide Talk plans begin at $39.99 monthly access and Nationwide Talk & Text Plans begin at $59.99 monthly access. Nationwide Unlimited Talk Plans and Nationwide Unlimited Talk & Text Plans are available at $69.99 and $89.99 monthly access, respectively. Nationwide Unlimited Talk Family SharePlans start at $119.99 monthly access for the first two lines, while the Nationwide Unlimited Talk & Text Family SharePlans are $149.99 monthly access for the first two lines of service.

In addition, Palm Pixi Plus customers have more options for personalizing their phones with the new color Pixi Touchstone Back Covers. The covers will be available in pink, blue, green, orange and black for only $29.99 each at www.verizonwireless.com and in Verizon Wireless Communications Stores.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Palm webOS Tip: webOS Shortcuts Revealed

Over on the Palm company blog today, Calvin P has posted a list of Palm webOS shortcuts that use Universal Search to help you quickly get to applications on your phone.

Kudos for Palm for sharing their list with us! Double Kudos points for readers of Smartphone Fanatics because we posted our list of shortcuts first! (Here and Here.)

Palm webOS shortcut list:
  • store or cat: App Catalog
  • pic(ture): Photos
  • sms or text: Messaging
  • time: Date & Time and Clock
  • add(ress): Contacts
  • todo: Tasks
  • eve(nts): Calendar
  • note: Memos
  • net: Wi-Fi
In addition to those listed by Palm, you can also use:
  • peo(ple): Contacts
  • pref: Palm webOS preference applications

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

A History of Tablet Computing

Most smartphone fans started out life using devices referred to a "personal digital assistants", or PDAs. Over the last 10 years, the most iconic PDA was the "PalmPilot." Apple has reignited a second mobile computing renaissance first with the iPod, then iTunes, and most recently, the iPhone and the iPod touch. While we wait for Apple to unveil their next mobile computing platform, rumored to a new tablet computer, AppleInsider has published a very good historical accounting of mobile computing.
"A variety of vendors have tried to deliver tablet-like products over the past two decades, but none have been a standout success. This has the tech world watching with bated breath to see if Apple can apply its aura of desirability to the tablet segment in the same way that it has managed to do in desktops, notebooks, MP3 players and smartphones."

Read the full AppleInsider article...

[Via AppleInsider.com...]

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Palm webOS 1.3.5.2 Lands in Europe

Following a few short weeks after the introduction of Palm webOS 1.3.5 and 1.3.5.1 here in the US, O2 Pre customers in Europe where treated today to the Palm webOS 1.3.5.2 update.

By and large, Palm webOS 1.3.5.1 and 1.3.5.2 appear to be identical as there doesn't seem to be anything in the release notes that jumps out at you as being different.

Just like the US edition, Palm webOS 1.3.5.2 includes the fix for the pesky Calendar and Exchange ActiveSync sync issue and effectively removes the application install limit that some customers who loaded their Pres up on App Catalog and homebrew apps ran into.

For the complete list of updates included in the European Palm webOS 1.3.5.2 update, visit the Palm webOS European updates page.

The update is available now and can be installed on your Pre smartphone by running the Updates application.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Android Users Suffering from App Space Limit

Now where have we seen this issue before? Seems like folks using smartphones powered by Google's Android operating system are caught up in the same issue that Palm webOS customers where until the release of the 1.3.5 update back on December 28.

At issue is the fact that when you install an application on your device, the app and potentially all of its data, are stored in the phone's memory space and not on the microSD card. This issue gets a little tricky as the app and required files can get stored in memory, but data files created by the user can be stored on the microSD card. It seems that the hacker community has some ways of dealing with this issue, however, Joe and Jane Average likely won't be making any modifications to their phones or the Android OS just to squeeze more apps onto their phone.

The good news is that Google has acknowledged the issue and says that they are going to address the issue in a future release of the Android OS. The only questions that I have is when will this update be released and for what versions of the Android OS and smartphones will it be released for?

[Via EngadgetMobile.com...]

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Palm webOS Tip: Contacts Shortcut

I stumbled upon another webOS application shortcut.
If you begin to type "address" or "people" on your Palm Pre or Pixi, Universal Search will find the Contacts application.

Cool, huh?

Here's a quick recap of the short cuts I've found so far:

add = Contacts
date = Calendar
sms = Messaging
pref = Displays webOS' "control panel" applications
peo = Contacts

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CPR for the Palm Pre

I just had a problematic 30 minutes to deal with. My Pre, my every day cell phone, for whatever reason, stopped responding to input. The last two pieces of software I added to the phone was the Palm webOS 1.3.5.1 update (to address the Calendar and Exchange ActiveSync issue) and the new 3D game, Monopoly by Electronic Arts mobile.

So what gives? The phone just stopped working. I wanted to shut the Pre down correctly so I held the Power button down for 2 seconds, but then I couldn't tap the on screen Power button to reboot the phone. So I pulled the battery out. Not exactly the graceful shutdown of webOS that I was hoping for.

I waited a few seconds, popped the battery in and the Pre seemed to just hang at the Palm logo screen. Ugh! Out comes the battery again.

I really didn't want to have to re-flash my phone to reload a fresh copy of Palm webOS and then have to reload my data from a back. (Make sure you are using the Backup application to back your data up to your Palm profile!!)

To resolve the issue, I pulled the battery out, let the phone sit for about 30 minutes, and then popped the battery back into the phone. I then waited another 5 minutes or so (it felt like 3 hours) for webOS to boot itself up and get itself going. Another 5 minutes later, everything was back to normal.

Talk about a wild ride. I'm not sure what I would have done all weekend without my cell phone. If the Pre had really died, I wouldn't have been able to swap it out until Monday afternoon with my BlackBerry Curve 8330. What a hassle that would have been! At this point, I'm glad I'm ok.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Up Next for Review: Sprint Palm Pixi

Upon my return home from work today I was greeted by a small package from Palm. Contained inside was my loaner Sprint Palm Pixi (not the new Palm Pixi Plus announced today at CES). Keep an eye out for my review of the tiny sibling to the Sprint Palm Pre smartphone next week. Until then, here is photo of the unboxed Pixi.

For more details on the Palm Pixi for the Sprint network, please visit the Palm website.

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Palm CES Coverage

The 2010 Consumer Electronics Show is under way in Las Vegas this week and Palm has used the event to make a big splash with the media and their customers. Here's a run down of what Palm has been up to!


Palm 2010 CES Presentation Video and Highlights

PreCentral has posted Palm chairman and chief executive officer Jon Rubinstein's CES presentation for your viewing pleasure if you are like me and somehow managed to not make it out to Las Vegas this year. The highlights of the presentation include:
  • Palm makes the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus official, Verizon only, and with tethering
  • Pre coming to SFR in France
  • webOS 1.4 coming in February with built-in Flash 10.1, Video recording
  • Palm reveals open web distribution of webOS apps
To check the video, head over to the PreCentral website.

New Phones, Wireless Carriers Announced

Many people will be happy to hear that Palm and Verizon Wireless will finally be bringing Palm webOS phones to market. Starting on January 25, Big Red customers will have their choice of the newly reformulated Palm Pre and Pixi smartphones known as the Palm Pre Plus and the Palm Pixi Plus. Why "Plus?" The Plus refers to the refinements over the older versions of the Pre and Pixi smartphones already available on the Sprint network.

The Palm Pre Plus will sport 16GB of RAM and a more streamlined form factor. As far as I can tell at this point, that simply means that the center has been removed from the front fo the Palm Pre Plus. Rather than use the Center button to zoom in/out from card view, you can simply flick up from the gesture area to zoom out of a card and then tap on the card you want to zoom back into full screen. The removal of the Center button is just one less thing that can break on the Pre form factor body and I welcome the change. And unlike the Sprint edition, the Verizon Wireless Palm Pre Plus ditches the glossy back plate battery door for the slick matte finished Touchstone charging battery door. Even if you don't plan on getting the super cool Touchstone charging dock, in my opinion, the matte finish of the Touchstone battery door is much easier to hold than the slippery gloss finish door.

The new Palm Pixi Plus uses the same body form factor as the older Sprint edition, however, the Verizon Pixi Plus will include an 802.11b/g Wi-Fi radio. (Shame on you Sprint for not allowing Wi-Fi in your Pixi!)

Verizon customers will also have access to a new App Catalog application called Mobile Hotspot that will allow the Pre Plus or Pixi Plus to act as a cellular Wi-Fi router allowing other near by Wi-Fi enabled device, like a netbook, to gain access to the Internet over the Pre or Pixi's EVDO cellular connection. Up until now, this was a trick reserved for devices like the Verizon Mi-Fi card. Kudos for Verizon for allowing their customers to share their data connections this way.

Palm will also continue to grow their presence overseas in the second quarter of the year when they bring Palm webOS phones to France on the SFR wireless network.

The last remaining question for US customers is when will Palm webOS devices be launched on AT&T? For right now, there is no official word from Palm on when webOS phones will appear on AT&T, however, Engadget has posted an article stating that AT&T's President and CEO, Ralph de la Vega, has gone on the record claiming that by the middle of the year, they will be carrying two unnamed Palm webOS devices. You'll have to stay tuned for the next few months until more details emerge on the AT&T front.

For more details on Palm's newest smartphones, visit the Palm blog.

Here Come the 3D Games!

Today Palm also unveiled 7 3D games specifically written to take advantage of the special graphics processor, called a GPU, inside the Palm Pre and Pre Plus smartphones. Combining the GPU, the new software development kit, released in beta form, and the software under pinning that are in the recently released Palm webOS 3.5.1 update, Pre customers can now play games on their smartphones that look just and play just as good as the games on Apple's iPhone.

Starting today, and via the Palm App Catalog, you can purchase and download the following 3D games:
  • "Need for Speed Undercover" (EA Mobile)
  • "The Sims 3" (EA Mobile)
  • "MONOPOLY" (EA Mobile)
  • "Asphalt 5: Elite Racing" (Gameloft)
  • "Let's Golf!" (Gameloft)
  • "Glyder 2" (Glu Mobile)
  • "X-Plane" (Laminar Research)
I'm excited about Palm's enabling of the GPU found in the Palm Pre and Pre Plus as it means that Pre customers no longer have to feel like second class citizens in the world of mobile gaming. While I looking forward to playing some of these games (I already purchased a copy of Monopoly this evening), I am still looking forward to playing games like Bejeweled and all of the great card and board games from Astraware, the games division of Handmark.

To learn more about today's announcement of the new 3D games for the Palm Pre and Pre Plus smartphones, visit the Palm website.

Ready! Set! Develop!

Lastly, Palm announced that the Palm Developer Center is now out of beta status and open to any application developer who wishes to write applications for the Palm webOS platform. Palm also announced that developers will have a choice of selling their applications through the Palm App Catalog or promote their applications by themselves, yet, they can still leverage the Palm over the air (OTA) distribution and installation service.

This is great news for the legions of web developers out there who know how to write HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code because, as I'm told, those three languages make up the bulk of the application development foundation for webOS applications.

For developers who are looking to write games and other applications that take advantage of the 3D rendering hardware and software found in webOS devices, like the Pre and Pre Plus, Palm is making the Palm webOS Plug-In Development Kit (PDK) available for use with the standard webOS Software Development Kit (SDK). According to Palm's press release, "[w]ith the PDK, developers can seamlessly integrate C and C++ code into their webOS apps, enabling new functionality such as 3D games."

Developers who wish to further explore the possibilities of the Palm webOS platform should visit the Palm Developer Center website.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Palm webOS 1.3.5.1 Update Released

Following just 7 days behind the webOS 1.3.5 update, Palm has released the Palm webOS 1.3.5.1 update. This update, according to Palm, is attended to address a very specific bug in the Calendar application when data is synchronized with a Microsoft Exchange Server.

The release notes for the latest webOS update states:
"This release fixes an issue in which the Calendar app displayed no events for any account after a user synchronized Calendar with an Exchange account. With this update, Calendar events now appear correctly after an Exchange sync."

According to a KB article published by Palm on Jan. 3, the nature of the problem is "that the turn of the year [to] 2010 has surfaced an issue that affects customers who use Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) to synchronize their calendars. Data remains intact on the device; however, this issue prevents the data from being displayed correctly in the Calendar application. It impacts all versions of webOS."

The Palm webOS 1.3.5.1 update is available for immediate download by using the Updates application on Sprint branded Palm Pre and Palm Pixi smartphones and will take about 10-15 minutes to install. Aside from resolving the issue with the Calendar application, there are no new changes between 1.3.5.1 and Palm webOS 1.3.5 which was released on December 28, 2009.

You can read the Palm webOS 1.3.5.1 release notes on the Palm webOS updates page. You can read the full Palm KB article on the Palm support website.

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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Classic Updated to Version 2.1.2 (UPDATED)

I just noticed that MotionApps Classic is showing an update to version 2.1.2 in the Palm App Catalog. I checked the MotionApps blog, however, there was no mention of the update. My guess is that the 2.1.2 update is a bug and/or performance update for Palm webOS 1.3.5. However, without any comments or release notes posted to the MotionApps website or blog, it is hard to know what exactly the latest update brings.

I have installed Classic 2.1.2 on my Pre with Palm webOS 1.3.5 and I am able to run DataViz Documents To Go 11 Premium and Passwords Plus without issue. Astraware Bejeweled 2 and Solitaire, the two games that I have loaded in Classic, are also working as expected.

To learn more about Classic, and how you can use your Palm OS applications on Palm webOS smartphones like the Palm Pre and the Palm Pixi, check out the MotionApps website.


UPDATE
The good folks over at Motion Apps have dropped me a line to clear up what is addressed in the 2.1.2 update to Classic.
"This was a regular release bringing stability improvements mostly, the one we've been waiting for quite a while, mostly because the issues Classic had after [Palm webOS] 1.3.1."


So there you have it. Classic 2.1.2 is a maintenance update. If you haven't already done so, you can download the latest update to Classic by using the Updates application on your Palm webOS smartphone.

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Saturday, January 2, 2010

CES 2010

The 2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is set to kick off on January 7 in Las Vegas. Since the focus of the show is consumers, CES starts on a Thursday and ends on a Sunday.

According to the CES website, there are over 600 technology companies from the West Coast in attendance and event organizers are expecting 110,000 attendees for the trade room floor and workshop sessions. Tickets to the event are $200.

For more information about this year's CES event, please visit the CES website.

Rumors Aplenty

As usual for this time of year, there is a flurry of rumors about upcoming devices from a number of technology vendors. This year's rumors include: HTC's new touchscreen tablet device, Motorola's expected announcement of two new smartphones, Google's Nexus One smartphone press event on Jan. 5, with the device available from Google and T-Mobile.

Palm will also be at CES this year, however, it is expected that the focus will be on software development, and not on new device launches. However, there are those pesky Verizon Wireless Pre Plus and Pixi Plus rumors to deal with.

Apple won't be at this year's CES or MacWorld Expo events. Instead, it is widely rumored that Apple will hold their own press event on or around January 26th. Speculation is running wild in the face of mounting evidence that they will finally announce the table computer that has rumored to be under development for many years now.


[Via Boy Genius Report, Barron's Tech Trader Daily, Gizmodo, PreCentral]

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Palm Unleashes webOS 1.3.5 Update

Late in the day yesterday, Palm released the Palm webOS 1.3.5 update for Sprint branded Palm Pre and Pixi smartphones.

Late in the evening reports where coming in that it was slow going downloading the 13MB update. I for one found myself waiting quite a while for the update to be downloaded and processed on my Pre. Once the update was downloaded, my Pre took the usual 15 minutes to install the update.

This update is important for a number of reasons. The Palm App Catalog app received no less than 9 updates, one of which includes the ability to download apps in the background rather than forcing you to wait until the current app is downloaded. The Calendar app also received a performance update that allows you to swipe between days much faster than in previous releases of Palm webOS. This one is important to me since I use my Pre to help schedule my meetings and daily work. You can also now launch the Sprint Navigation application directly from a Contact record. (I haven't figured out how this feature works yet. When I tap on an address in Contacts, Google Maps is launched, just as it always has. I'll post an update later on reporting on whether or not I got this feature workings and what, if anything I had to do to make it work.)

Probably the biggest updates for Palm enthusiests in this release is the ability to use the Pre's and Pixi's USB storage space for applications, freeing many folks from the dreaded "too many applications installed" error that was popping up. Kudos to Palm for coming up with an elegant solution for addressing this problem. The Palm webOS 1.3.5 update also lays the ground work for some exciting possibilities for some new applications; games in particular. According to the folks over at WebOS Internals, Palm has delivered two package files that will make it possible for developers to access and use the Pre's and Pixi's Graphics Processing Unit, or GPU. This update should make it possible for high-quality games, the likes of which have been available on the iPhone for some time now, to be released for the Palm webOS platform. I'm really looking forward to seeing some of the Handmark/Astraware games to show up on webOS. I miss playing Bejeweled 2.

This update does not repair the iTunes Media Sync feature. At this time it is unclear as to whether or not Palm will attempt to reactivate this feature or if they can come to some kind of an agreement with Apple to allow the iTunes sync feature to work. If you want to sync iTunes content with your Palm webOS device, it is recommended that you use DoubleTwist.

Some of the highlights from the Palm webOS 1.3.5 update include:

  • App Catalog significantly improves the application download experience.

  • Users can now take advantage of the full storage capacity of the phone for downloading applications.

  • In Day view, switching between days happens more quickly.

  • A user can perform a full erase by pressing and holding Sym + the orange/Option key + power for 10 seconds.

  • A user can now edit forwarded text for all email account types.

  • When the user sets up more than one Yahoo! email account, the account names displayed in Account List view include the associated email address so that the user can distinguish them.

  • A user can launch Sprint Navigation from an address in an open contact entry in Contacts.

  • This update improves battery life in areas of poor wireless network coverage.
The complete list of software enhancements and bug fixes can be found on the Palm webOS software updates website. You can download the Palm webOS 1.3.5 update by launching the Updates application on your Sprint branded Palm Pre or Pixi.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

eWeek: Palm webOS One of the 2009 Products of the Year

The latest print edition of eWeek hit my desk today and they listed out the best products of 2009. Being a big fan of Palm, I was delighted to see that Palm webOS made this years list of outstanding products.

Andrew Garcia writes:
"From the way it integrates all like communication into a single interface, to the way it seamlessly moves from local search to Web search, to its intuitive gesture-based user controls, Palm webOS is a joy to use."

However, Mr. Garcia also warns that one of the biggest obstacles to the success of Palm's new mobile operating system is third-party developer support.

Again, Mr. Garcia writes:
"...I have my doubts as to whether third-party developers will create enough action on the platform to make it successful long term, Palm webOS is a thoughtful and well-designed mobile platform."

The complete list of eWeek's products of they year are:

1. AWS Toolkit for Eclipse
2. Microsoft Bing
3. RIM BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.0
4. Cisco Unified Computing
5. Mozilla Firefox 3.5
6. Intel "Nehalem" Family of Processors
7. Palm webOS
8. SUSE Studio 1.0
9. VMware vSphere 4

Why 9? Usually at this time of the year, it is all about top 10 lists. Oh, well, let's just say that it has to do with the current year ending in '9'.

You can read eWeek Lab's full review of Palm webOS, written by Mr. Garcia, on the eWeek website.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

PC Magazine: Palm Pre Most Innovative New Platform of 2009

It must be that time of year again...where everyone feels compelled to pick Top 10 lists for everything. Following up on Time's declaration that the Motorola Droid is the top dog for their Top 10 Gadgets of 2009 list, PC Magazine has come up with their own list of top picks.

This year, PC Magazine has selected the Palm Pre as the Most Innovative New Platform of the year, writing:
"Palm has returned with the coolest handheld device we've seen in a long time. The Palm Pre has the same exhilarating sense of possibility as the iPhone—and it's even worth switching to Sprint for. The Pre is the start of something genuinely new: Palm's webOS, an innovative operating system that's benefited a lot by what the company has learned from Apple's smartphone successes."
The iPhone 3GS did take the top spot for Best Consumer Smartphone.

You can check out PC Magazine's top smartphone picks on the PC Magazine website.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Palm webOS Tip: Pref Shortcut

Over the weekend I stumbled across a new shortcut for Palm webOS. Using the Universal Search feature, you can type "pref" to see all of the preferences applications that Palm preinstalled on your Pre or Pixi smartphone.

This is especially handy if you have added a ton of the great Palm App Catalog or homebrew applications to your phone and don't feel like flipping through pages of application launcher pages.

Disclaimer: I'm using a Sprint branded Palm Pre running Palm webOS 1.3.1. I don't have access to any other versions of the Pre or the Sprint Palm Pixi. Mileage may vary.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Black Friday Technology Deals

Black Friday has become a crazy, insane, shopping frenzy that jump starts the holiday gift buying season and puts many retailer's balance sheets "in the black." Here are some deals that have caught me eye and might be of interest to you today as you build your plan of attack for tomorrow morning.

Amazon
Apple
Best Buy
  • Sprint Palm Pre (requires 2-year service agreement), $79.99
Staples
  • Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 3000 Keyboard & Mouse, $24.99 (online, phone only)
  • SanDisk 8GB Cruzer Micro Skin USB Flash Drive, $14.99 (online, phone only)
  • Jabra BT4010 Bluetooth Headset, $14.99 (online, phone only)
Target
  • Western Digital Elements 500GB Portable Hard Drive, $59.98 (in store only)
  • Western Digital Elements 1TB Desktop Hard Drive, $58.98 (in store only)
Verizon Wireless
  • BlackBerry Curve 8530, Buy One Get One (2-yr service contract, online, in store)

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Syncing Yahoo! Accounts With Palm Synergy




Over the weekend, Palm released the Palm webOS 1.3.1 update for the Palm Pre and also launched the Palm Pixi on Sprint's wireless network.

One of the new features of Palm webOS is the ability to sync your Yahoo! account with Synergy, Palm's wireless technology for collecting all of your contact, calendar, and email data and displaying it to you in a single, synchronized place that fits in your pocket.

I wanted to test out the new Yahoo! Synergy sync on my Palm Pre with webOS 1.3.1 installed. My first attempt didn't go so well because I was trying to log in to my Yahoo! account with the wrong password. My second attempt didn't work either, even after I confirmed that I had the correct password. I kept getting a message popping up on my Pre that my account password was incorrect. What gives?

Turns out that before you can use Synergy to sync with your Yahoo! account, you need to do two things first:

1. Upgrade your Palm Pre or Palm Pixi to webOS 1.3.1 if you don't already have it installed
2. Upgrade your Yahoo! calendar to their new beta Calendar

You can upgrade the operating system on your Pre or Pixi by using the Updates application on your smart(er)phone. To upgrade your Yahoo! Calendar, you need to access an upgrade page on the the Yahoo! website. (I was already logged into my Yahoo! account before I went to the Calendar switch website.)

After you have upgraded your Yahoo! Calendar, you should be all set to add your Yahoo! email account to the Pre or Pixi Email application. Once the Synergy connection has been established, webOS will begin to sync your Yahoo! email, contacts, and calendar. Additionally, afterSynergy has done its thing, you will be able to access your Yahoo! instant messaging account from Messaging application.

If you want to learn more about how Palm webOS Synergy works, you can read more on the Palm support website.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Facebook for webOS Released, Updated for iPhone

This has turned out to be a Facebook-tastic weekend! Earlier today, Facebook 1.0.0 for Palm webOS was released for the Pre and Pixi smartphones.

The new Facebook client, written by Palm, became available from Palm's App Catalog today and requires that Pre and Pixi customers upgrade their phones to webOS 1.3.1 or later before it can be installed. The Palm webOS 1.3.1 update was made available to Pre customers on Sprint and Bell Canada yesterday; and should be available in the next few days for customers who purchase the new Palm Pixi smartphone starting tomorrow.

And Apple iPhone and iPod touch customers also got a little Facebook love this week with a minor bump to Facebook version 3.03 which includes bug fixes and adds Japanese and Chinese localizations. The update is available via iTunes App Store (iTunes link) from a Mac or PC. If you have the app installed on your iPhone or iPod touch, you can download and install the update over the air (OTA) using the App Store application on your device.

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Sprint, Bell Pre Customers Get Palm WebOS 1.3.1 Update

On Friday evening, Palm released the Palm webOS 1.3.1 update for Sprint and Bell Canada Pre customers. The update arrives a few days earlier than expected. How every cool! Yahoo! users will be happy to learn that webOS 1.3.1 brings Synergy support for Yahoo! calendar and email.

Palm webOS 1.3.1 has the follow nuggets of goodness baked in:


Backup
  • Backup now includes browser cookies

  • Backup no longer saves online account passwords
Calendar
  • Yahoo! now appears as a Calendar synchronization account. Open Calendar > application menu > Preferences & Accounts > Add An Account > Yahoo!

  • All-day events that span more than one day now appear correctly in all Calendar views.

  • If you create a Google calendar event on the phone and the event location contains an apostrophe, the event now correctly synchronizes with Google online.
Camera
  • After taking a picture, if you tap the picture thumbnail in the lower-left corner of the camera screen, the picture now opens in full-screen view, not Thumbnails view. Making the back gesture returns you to the camera.
Contacts
  • Yahoo! now appears as a Contacts synchronization account. You can download contacts from Yahoo! online to the phone by opening Contacts > application menu > Preferences & Accounts > Add An Account > Yahoo!

  • Automatic contact linking based on name matches occurs only if the first and last name fields are populated with the same names. If either field is blank, the Contacts app no longer links the contacts. In addition, the Contacts app no longer automatically links contacts with the same name but with different suffixes (such as Jr. and Sr.).

  • If you set up Contacts to synchronize with a Google account, the account synchronizes only entries in Google's My Contacts, not all contacts.
Device Info
  • If you copy a music file to the phone and then delete it, Device Info now shows the correct amount of available memory after the deletion.
Email
  • Forwarded and replied-to messages include improved formatting, such as the original sender's email address in forwarded messages and correct inline image display in replies.

  • The list of mail types available in manual setup now includes Google Apps (Hosted Google Domains) and Yahoo! Small Business Domain email accounts. Selecting one of these types automatically enters the correct settings for these accounts.
Messaging
  • Yahoo! IM is available as an instant messaging account.

  • You can select a unique ringtone for new message alerts: Open Messaging > application menu > Preferences & Accounts > Sound > Ringtone.

  • You can forward a text or multimedia message by tapping the message > Forward.

  • You can copy the text of a text or multimedia message by tapping the message > Copy Text.

Phone
  • If the you are on a call, calendar notifications no longer partially cover the End Call icon.

Screen & Lock
  • A new Secure Unlock preference allows you to set the time interval the phone is idle before the phone locks, requiring you to enter the PIN/password to unlock the phone. This can be the same as or different from the interval after which the screen turns off. To set the preference: Open Screen & Lock > Lock After.
Web
  • Backup now includes browser cookies, so that after a restart, for example, if you stored your username and password on a web-based email site, you can continue to access the site without needing to log in.

  • If you tap to play a YouTube video embedded on a web page, the YouTube application launches and the video plays in the app.

There are some other interesting changes in the Palm webOS operating system. The first is that you can now press and hold the Orange key and tap an application icon to pull up information about the application. Pressing and holding down the Power button now gives you more control over what the device does: turn Airplane mode on or off or Restart or Shutdown/Swap Battery.

To read the complete list of feature updates included in Palm webOS 1.3.1, visit the Palm website. The 1.3.1 update is reported to become available for Europen GSM Pre customers by the end of November.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Is the Time Right for a Palm webOS Foleo?

I've been thinking a lot about Palm's discontinued Foleo mobile companion lately. It was two years ago, this past September, that Palm chose to discontinue the Foleo so that the company could focus their energy on the development of the Palm Pre and their new mobile operating system, Palm webOS. Looking forward, one has to wonder whether or not Palm will go back and redesign the Foleo for use with Palm webOS.

The Foleo was conceived by Jeff Hawkins, the father of the Palm Pilot. The Foleo was to be a "mobile companion" for Palm's Treo line of smartphones; specifically the Windows Mobile Treo 750 and the Palm OS Treo 755p. Palm had signaled that the Foleo could be opened up to support other smartphones, including the BlackBerry, at some later date after it's initial release. Unlike the Treo smartphones it was designed to work with, the Foleo was to run a completely new OS, simply called Foleo OS; meaning that Palm and their third-party developers would have to support three discrete mobile operating systems (Palm OS, Windows Mobile, Foleo OS). As you might have guessed, for such a small company, developing and maintaining three operating systems is not a position you would want to be in.

With the Foleo practically ancient history in the mobile computing field, why bring it up now? The answer is because Palm has made some changes to their mobile operating system line up. Palm has stated that they will no longer be releasing devices running Palm OS or Microsoft's Windows Mobile. That leaves Palm with only their latest software platform, Palm webOS, to be used with new products. Since Palm webOS is based on a Linux kernel, and uses web technologies for displaying the user interface, Palm's new platform could be used to drive a number of devices; not just smartphones.

From the beginning, I always thought that the Foleo's hardware was solid and well though out. I had a chance to play with the Foleo during one of Palm's sneak peek events. The hardware felt sturdy and up to to the challenges of day-to-day bumps and knocks. The Foleo had a bright 10-inch screen and a full size keyboard that I was able to touch type on. It also featured flash memory storage and a SDHC card slot for memory expansion. USB, video, and audio out ports rounded out the hardware. Comparing it to an Acer Eee PC or a Dell Mini 9, the Foleo's hardware just felt better. (To be fair, the Foleo was to be almost twice as expensive than the Eee PC. Cost drives the quality of build materials. Cost vs. function is one of the main reasons why Apple choses to not release a Mac OS X netbook.)

So that brings us back to software. In 2007, Foleo OS didn't make sense for a small company trying to contain their software development and support costs. In 2009, Palm has decided to focus their efforts around Palm webOS. A Palm netbook, powered by webOS, which has the ability to synchronize data and applications with Palm's other webOS devices, the Pre and Pixi smartphones, could be a much more powerful device than the original Foleo.

In conclusion, a new Palm Foleo would have several advantages to it. First is that it would run the same mobile operating system as Palm's smartphones. This would benefit both Palm and third-party developers since there would only be the one OS to write applications for. Secondly, in my opinion, the original Foleo hardware was well designed, and with some tweaks to the processor, memory, and video systems, would be up to the tasks expected of any of today’s netbooks. Lastly, the new management team at Palm is much better at product execution than the management team that was leading the company in 2007.

How about it Foleo Fanatics? With all the changes that have taken place at Palm since the fall of 2007, does it make sense for Palm to take another look at the Foleo? Leave your comments below.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Palm Pixi Sprint Launch Date Announced

Earlier today, Palm announced that their next webOS smartphone, the Palm Pixi, will go on sale at Sprint on November 15, 2009.

In a brief email to customers, Palm wrote:
"The new Palm® Pixi™ phone on the Palm webOS™ platform will be available November 15th, starting at $99.99 (after rebate and service agreement) exclusively on the Sprint network.1 Palm Pixi. Designed to communicate on your terms. Instantly. Intuitively. Personally."
The Sprint edition of the Palm Pixi will cost just $99.99 with a two-year service agreement, after a $50 instant rebate and $100 mail-in rebate. The Pixi will be available at Sprint stores, online at www.sprint.com, through telesales at 1-800-SPRINT1, and at Best Buy, RadioShack and select Wal-Mart stores.
“We are excited to offer the new Palm Pixi to our customers in time for the holiday season, and it’s a great addition to Sprint’s industry-leading device portfolio,” said Kevin Packingham, senior vice president – Product Development, Sprint. “Simply put, this phone is fun and easy to use; with its multi-touch screen and full QWERTY keyboard, it’s a great device for messaging and social networking at a price everyone can enjoy, and delivers so many of the great features people love about Palm Pre™ in a fantastic new form factor, making it a huge hit for consumers.”
Key Features

Palm webOS brings together the user’s most important information from their phone, at work or on the Web into one logical view. In addition to linking information from Google™, Facebook®, Microsoft® Exchange ActiveSync® and LinkedIn®, Palm Pixi adds Yahoo!® integration to Palm Synergy™3. Palm Synergy offers:
  • Linked contacts – A single view that links contacts from a variety of sources, so accessing them is easier than ever.

  • Layered calendars – Calendars can be seen on their own or layered together in a single view, combining work, family, friends, sports teams or other interests, and the user can toggle to look at one calendar at a time, or see them all at a glance.

  • Combined messaging – See all the conversations with the same person in a chat-style view, including MMS, even if it started in IM and switched to reply with text messaging.
To learn more about the Palm Pixi, please visit the Palm website.

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Palm webOS Tip: Restart to Correct Radio Issues

On a recent Friday morning, I noticed that one of my Google Calendars, the one that I use to sync my work schedule with, was not syncing with Synergy on my Palm Pre smartphone. My Google calendar was up to date because I was looking at. But when I glanced over to my Pre, the calendar hadn't updated.

The Calendar application in Palm webOS can be synchronized at any time, regardless of the schedule you have setup, by taping the "Sync Now" button. (Calendar > Preferences & Accounts > Sync Now) In most cases, the on demand sync will catch up any changes that have not yet been synchronized. I had tried the Sync Now command without much success.

Rather than continuing to tap Sync Now the for the rest of the day, I decided to restart my Pre. Unlike previous Palm smartphones and PDAs, there is a specific procedure for restarting your Palm webOS phone.

To restart your phone, launch the Device Info application. It is found on the last (right most) page of the Palm application launcher. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and tap the "Reset Options" button, and then tap the "Restart" button. When you restart your phone in this way, you are assured that the Linux operating system that Palm webOS is built on is restarted correctly and that there is no chance for file corruption to occur.

Thankfully, by the time I walked down the hall to the room where my first meeting was going to by, my Pre has rebooted and Synergy had updated my Calendar.

The restart option should be part of your troubleshooting steps. I've also used the Device Info Restart option to correct Wi-Fi and cellular communication issues. Restarting is a quick and easy way to get things working again on your smartphone.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Retail Editions of Windows 7 Go On Sale Today

While the final version of Windows 7 has been available to select Microsoft customers and TechNet subscribers for some time now, October 22, 2009 will be remembered as the day that Windows Vista was finally replaced.

Starting today, Microsoft has started selling four of the six editions of Windows 7 online and at retail locations. (Windows 7 Starter edition and Windows 7 Enterprise edition are required to be purchased under special conditions that we wouldn't normally have access to. Think netbooks and large corporate account holders.)

So what does that mean for smartphone users? Probably not much. Microsoft has worked hard to ensure that any software package that works on Windows Vista will also work on Windows 7. I've been using Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise editions for the last few months now and I haven't run into any serious show stoppers.

Palm Pre, Pixi - Palm webOS devices

Palm Pre customers (and Palm Pixi customers shortly) won't have any sync problems out of the box because Palm webOS, unlike Palm OS, does not sync directly with a desktop computer. People using webOS phones and third-party sync solutions like Chapura PocketMirror for webOS and Chapura Echo will want to check for any updates that may be made available. At the time of this posting, I did not see any updates mentioned on Chapura's website.

Treo 755p, Centro, Palm OS Handhelds - Palm OS 5 Devices

Customers using Palm's older generation smartphones and PDA handhelds, including the Palm Treo 755p, Centro, and Palm TX handheld PDA, things can get a little bit sketchy. Most of the issues with Palm Desktop versions 4.x and 6.x will likely continue. You will still need to be a member of the Windows Administrators group to install the software and all manors of HotSync voodoo will likely be needed to perform successful HotSync operations. In my limited Palm Desktop 6.22 testing on my Windows 7 Ultimate machine, which was upgraded from Windows Vista Ultimate, I have been able to HotSync my Treo 755p. However, I will caution you that 3-5 HotSync operations is hardly conclusive.

Windows 7 also won't correct the USB driver issue. Neither Palm nor ACCESS (the company that owns the Palm OS 5 and Windows Palm Desktop source code) has released a 64-bit USB driver. In short, that means if you have a 64-bit edition of Windows XP/Vista/7, you can't sync your Palm OS 5 device with USB cable. You will need to turn to a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth solution to sync. I don't expect either company to release a 64-bit compatible Palm OS 5 driver at this late stage in the Palm OS life cycle since Palm OS 5 is no longer being used in new devices from Palm.

RIM BlackBerry Smartphones

I recently installed BlackBerry Device Manager 5.0 on my Windows 7 machine and was able to sync it with my BlackBerry Curve 8330. After installing Device Manager, I learned that there was an OS update for my Berry and I was able to apply the update without issue. The BlackBerry USB mass storage mode also worked without a hitch.

Windows Mobile 5, 6, 6.5

There really isn't much to report here. Microsoft's latest desktop software is expected to sync with their mobile operating systems. While I haven't tried to sync my Treo 750 (Windows Mobile Professional 6.0) with my Windows 7 machine yet, it did sync (mostly) error free with Windows Vista.

What about everything else?

While I don't have an Apple iPhone or Google Android phone, I am not anticipating any serious problems. The iPhones and the iPod touch sync with Apple's iTunes software, which is still listed as being compatible with Windows XP and Windows Vista should work fine under Windows 7. If an issue does come up, I'd expect Apple to have a fix out shortly since there are so many people walking around with both devices at this point.

You can learn more about the various Windows 7 editions on the Microsoft website.

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