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.

Labels: , , ,

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.

Labels: , , , ,

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.

Labels: , , ,

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.

Labels: , , , ,

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.

Labels: , , ,

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.

Labels: , , , ,

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

Labels: , , ,

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.

Labels: , ,

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.

Labels: , , , , , ,

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.

Labels: , , , ,

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.

Labels: , , ,

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.

Labels: , , ,

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.

Labels: , , , , ,

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.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Palm Pixi webOS Smartphone Coming to Sprint


Today, Palm announced their next webOS-powered smartphone, the Palm Pixi, for the Sprint wireless network.

Palm, Inc. (NASDAQ: PALM) today introduced the Palm® Pixi™ phone for faster, more intuitive and personal communication in a compact and customizable design. With the instinctively useable Palm webOS™ platform, strikingly thin design, a visible full keyboard and fashionable personalization options, Palm Pixi lets you express yourself in amazingly useful ways. It’s scheduled to be available exclusively from Sprint in time for the holidays.

“With Palm webOS, we’re creating a new, more intuitive smartphone experience defined by unmatched simplicity and usefulness,” said Jon Rubinstein, Palm chairman and chief executive officer. “Palm Pixi brings this unique experience to a broader range of people who want enhanced messaging and social networking in a design that lets them express their personal style.”

“Palm Pixi continues Sprint’s leadership in providing useful and innovative devices on America’s most dependable 3G network,”(7) said Dan Hesse, chief executive officer at Sprint. “We are pleased to be the first carrier to bring this device to market and offer both devices in the growing Palm webOS family. Sprint’s Everything Data plans, which provide unrestricted access to the Internet, mobile content and applications, and our Ready Now retail experience make for a perfect combination with these new Palm products.”

Palm Pixi Features
  • High-speed connectivity (EVDO Rev. A)
  • 2.63-inch multi-touch screen with a vibrant 18-bit color 320x400 resolution TFT display
  • Gesture area, which enables simple, intuitive gestures for navigation
  • Exposed QWERTY keyboard for fast messaging
  • Robust messaging support (IM, SMS and MMS capabilities), including Google Talk, AIM and Yahoo! IM
  • High-performance, desktop-class web browser
  • Integrated GPS
  • Multimedia options, including pictures, video playback and music, and featuring a 2-megapixel fixed-focus camera with LED flash, and a standard 3.5mm headset jack
  • Email, including Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) (for access to corporate Microsoft Exchange servers), as well as personal email support (Google push, Yahoo! push, POP3, IMAP)(9)
  • Bluetooth® 2.1 + EDR with A2DP stereo Bluetooth support
  • 8GB of internal user storage (~7GB user available)
  • USB mass storage mode
  • MicroUSB connector with USB 2.0 Hi-Speed
  • The first handset to launch with Qualcomm’s high-performance MSM7627™ chipset
  • Proximity sensor, which automatically disables the touch screen and turns off the display whenever you put the phone up to your ear
  • Light sensor, which dims the display if the ambient light is dark, such as at night or in a movie theater, to reduce power usage
  • Accelerometer, which automatically orients web pages and photos to your perspective
  • Ringer switch, which easily silences the device with one touch
  • Removable, rechargeable 1150 mAh battery
  • Dimensions: 55mm (W) x 111mm (L) x 10.85mm (D) [2.17 in. (W) x 4.37 in. (L) x 0.43 in. (D)]
  • Weight: 99.5 grams (3.51 ounces)
  • Sprint services, including Sprint TV® and Sprint Radio, Sprint Navigation, Sprint’s exclusive NFL Mobile Live and NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile Live
Pricing and Availability

The Palm Pixi phone is scheduled to be available from Sprint in time for the holidays. Pricing for the phone, as well as the limited-edition Palm Pixi Artist Series covers, will be announced closer to availability. Customers who would like to register to receive additional information about Palm Pixi and be notified when it’s available can register at www.palm.com/pixi.

Additionally, starting today, Palm and Sprint will be lowering the cost of the Palm Pre from $199 with a new two-year service agreement by $50 to $149 after an instant $150 rebate and a $100 mail-in rebate.

The full Palm Pixi press release can be read on the Palm website.

Labels: , , ,