A few questions regarding webOS and the Classic emulator were answered today, as well as some new information regarding the Touchstone dock.
webOS games a priority
Since webOS was announced, questions have arisen as to whether gaming would take a back seat to other apps. We previously discussed the possibility that Flash could boost gaming on the Pre, and Palm already stated in their webcast that webOS would support casual and web-centric games at launch. However like the iPhone, games can only be as good as the developers who create them, so support is key to having good games at launch. Precentral notes that in a comment by Palm Developer Community Manager, Chuq Von Rospach, he states games are high on the priority list for developers. And the lowest priority? Fart apps.
Games are definitely NOT last on the list of priorities. They’re actually fairly high on the list; they’re also a very popular option for people submitting applications, which makes our life tough choosing — which is a good thing. Lowest thing on the priority list? Probably applications that emit noises that represent various bodily functions. But that’s just my opinion...
So if you plan on developing games for webOS, you should have a good support base from Palm. Meanwhile, if you're looking to create the next best thing to iFart, you may not get full backing from Palm just yet.
Touchstone to be a product line
Although Palm has been withholding specific details of launch date and pricing so far (although rumors predict a mid-May launch), occasionally details slip through the cracks. During a 43-minute demo of the Pre at CTIA, a Palm marketing manager describes the Touchstone dock:
"The Touchstone is the name of a entire line of products. This is the first Touchstone product in that family. This is the charging dock."
So there you have it. Prethinking speculates that if indeed true, inductive technology could be used in peripherals such as speakers, a USB dock, and Pre-to-Pre transfers simply by placing the device against the respective peripherals. Sounds cool; an update will be posted if more details arise.
MotionApps Classic Q&A
Last week, Palm confirmed emulation of Palm OS software on the Pre using MotionApps Classic, due out at launch. A full video walkthrough has since been posted, although many questions arose as to the level of functionality that would be available with emulation. PalmWebOS noted that on a blog post on the company website, MotionApps recently posted a detailed Q&A about Classic that should answer most, if not all of your questions.
The full Q&A is posted after the break; also check out the official website for more info.
Q: What is the main difference between Classic running on webOS hardware and “real” PalmOS?
A: Most important difference between the two is that the Classic is an application for webOS running in parallel with other webOS apps, while the PalmOS running on Treos and Centros is the operating system of those devices. This means that Classic cannot take the full and unlimited control of the hardware it is working on. This imposes certain rules of good behavior that Classic must comply with – for example, Classic cannot turn off the device or network which normally is a responsibility of an OS, simply because there may be some other webOS apps running outside of it that are using the same services at the same time. Unlike this, on “real” PalmOS devices, there can be nothing else running in parallel with the operating system, so in that case PalmOS can and should coordinate everything that is going on with the device.
Q: Which of the existing PalmOS devices are closest to Classic in terms of features?
A: During development of Classic we strived for compatibility with Palm Centro smartphones. Thus, certain features that may be available on other PalmOS handhelds are not supported in Classic (like screens larger than 320x320 pixels, DIA input API and some other rarely used APIs). Of course, this doesn’t mean that you will be limited only to applications that are designed specifically for Centro: majority of existing PalmOS apps are device-agnostic and will run on any PalmOS system, including Classic.
Q: I have PalmOS applications that I would like to continue using in Classic. Do I need to buy them again?
A: As far as Classic is concerned – you don’t. Classic will enable you to run existing PalmOS applications without any modifications or limitations. However, if you have commercial PalmOS applications you may need to check the licenses you received from their developers for using it on a different/new device.
Q: Can I run multiple Classic instances at the same time?
A: No, you cannot. The design of webOS is such that it allows only a single instance of a given application to be run at a time. If you try to launch Classic from the main webOS launcher while another Classic is running, the system will simply switch to (bring to focus) the existing Classic instance.
Q: Can Classic run the native ARM code (a.k.a. ARMlets, PNOlets…)?
A: Yes, it can. PalmOS applications containing both 68K and ARM code will work in Classic without modifications.
Q: Can PalmOS applications running in Classic access the SD card slot? What kind of access is supported?
A: Palm® Pre™ device does not have an SD card slot. However, Classic contains a full emulation of SD card related APIs. We have implemented this through a dedicated folder on device’s file system which mimics the SD card. PalmOS application can access files and folders in this virtual storage card using the standard PalmOS VFS API, without any restrictions. This means that PalmOS apps can create, read, modify or delete files and folders on the virtual SD card just as they did on real SD card on real PalmOS devices (it can even be formatted through standard PalmOS API). From the PalmOS application’s perspective, there is a fully functional SD card in Classic.
Q: Is there a HotSync support in Classic?
A: Unfortunately, not in the first release. HotSync and conduits are some of the most requested features we have received requests for so far and we are looking into various ways for solving this problem, but there are some serious technical and other obstacles for adding HotSync support to Classic.
Q: What is the “HotSync ID” icon that is present on some of the Classic screenshots?
A: It is a simple PalmOS application that we have bundled with Classic which enables you to define your HotSync ID. Since the only way for defining the HotSync ID on real PalmOS devices is by performing a HotSync operation – which is not supported on Classic – we have included this utility so that you can configure Classic to use the same HotSync ID you used on Treo/Centro. This application has nothing to do with actual HotSync – it just configures the ID that many applications require for registration purposes.
Q: Are the native PalmOS PIM databases (contacts, calendar, memos and tasks) supported in Classic?
A: Classic includes PalmOS Contacts, Calendar, Tasks and Memos apps and their databases so that the other apps relying on those databases can be used in Classic. Access to native webOS PIM databases is not supported at this time.
Q: Which screen resolutions are supported in Classic?
A: Classic supports 320x320 resolution, including 16-bit and 8-bit screen depths.
Q: Is direct screen access supported in Classic?
A: Yes, PalmOS applications can directly access the screen memory for faster rendering, just as they do on real PalmOS devices.
Q: Will Classic integrate into the webOS device hardware and to what extent?
A: The ability of Classic to integrate with underlying hardware is limited. This means that Classic will not be able to access Bluetooth, wireless modem (phone radio), GPS, light sensors or accelerometer (nor the IR port – because there isn’t any on Pre). One exception to this is the network access which is fully supported. Also, there are some other hardware integration points in Classic: for example a PalmOS application can obtain IMEI, IMSI, ESN and similar identifiers from the modem, device’s serial number and some other information that is typically used by many PalmOS applications for purposes of product registration and licensing. This is done through a standard PalmOS APIs, just like on real PalmOS hardware.
Q: Is there a network support in Classic?
A: Yes, there is. The PalmOS Network Library is fully supported in Classic. PalmOS applications running in Classic can access the Internet the same way they do on real PalmOS hardware. (Geek stuff: what is not possible from Classic is configuring the network routes or proxy servers – i.e. a PalmOS application cannot decide whether the request will go through cellular or WiFi networks – these details are handled by underlying TCP/IP implementation in webOS).
Q: Is the PalmOS web browser (Blazer) included in Classic?
A: No, it is not. webOS contains a significantly more powerful web browser. However, there are lots of PalmOS applications that rely on Blazer services for displaying on-line content. When such an application attempts to launch Blazer and navigate to a web page, Classic will open the default webOS browser and point it to the requested location.
Q: Can I install a third party PalmOS web browser or e-mail client in Classic?
A: Yes you can. Classic fully supports network access, so applications like web browsers, e-mail client, RSS readers, IMs or any other apps that are communicating with remote servers over the network will work with Classic.
Q: What other restrictions exist in Classic, comparing to real PalmOS devices?
A: In addition to limitations described above, following PalmOS features are not supported in Classic:
· Access to built-in camera
· Access to external hardware devices through Bluetooth, serial or USB ports however access to network peripherals is supported
· PalmOS development tools, like POSE, Gremlins, debuggers and similar
· Audio/video codecs – due to licensing limitations there are no built-in audio/video codecs in Classic (e.g. MP3, MP4, AMR and others available on Centro).