The last time we reported on notable hires at Palm was last month, when Dion Almaer and Ben Galbraith, of Mozilla Developer Tools Lab were recruited to the developer team. Their latest employee, Matthew Tippett will now be working for Palm as the head of Linux kernel development. An Australian native, Tippett served as engineering manager for Linux Core Engineering at AMD/ATI. Matt's work with ATI's Linux graphics drivers was given high praise, notably that he played a "critical role" in bringing the Catalyst drivers for Linux to near-parity with Windows, among other things. He will be moving from Toronto to Sunnyvale, CA to start work on webOS.
With the new engineer on board and recent focus on game development, will Palm start putting the capabilities of the Pre's GPU to work?
Apple's latest incremental update up to iTunes 9.02 shuts out the Pre once again, continuing the cycle of breaking and fixing media sync that Palm seems to have down to a science.
No details have been released yet as to changes to the USB ID structure that prevent the device from syncing, but with webOS 1.3 rumored to arrive with the Pixi on November 15, Palm may get the gears going for another fix. As usual, if you want to keep sync intact keep a copy of iTunes 9.01 handy or use a third-party program such as doubleTwist (now supporting Pixi) or The Missing Sync as alternatives.
Today, Palm and Sprint announced that the new webOS Pixi handset will hit the US on November 15th, exclusively on Sprint, on-contract for $99 after $100 mail-in rebate. The phone will be distributed through Sprint stores, Best Buy, RadioShack, and select Walmart locations. This confirms promises of a launch in time for the holidays from Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein on The Engadget Show, among other outlets.
Other information such as processor specs have already been detailed. Whether Best Buy will make the mail-in rebate an instant one like for the Pre is still in the air. At this price point, will you be putting the Pixi on your gift list this year?
Hopefully this will be another boost to Palm, who are enjoying successful Pre releases in Europe, and soon on Verizon back home. With the new device just around the corner and sporting a reduced resolution with no WiFi, have you ensured your apps are Pixi-ready?
Verizon users looking to get in on the webOS action may have something to look forward to, as a tweet this weekend from Verizon Wireless confirmed that the company would carry the Pre "early next year". This backs up earlier rumors that the company would pick up the device after Sprint's exclusivity period ends. Some less patient users have already hacked the device to run on the big V, although enabling data was an issue. Others are looking to import a GSM version, just released in Europe, for other carriers such as AT&T.
Some may remember the Pre vs. Storm smackdown chart that Verizon put out earlier to actually combat the Pre launch, which will no doubt be quietly filed away in preparation to take on other targets, such as the iPhone. While an Apple partnership was once considered, this is now looking unlikely with the new anti iDevice campaign that they are reportedly gearing up for. Let's just hope "early next year" comes in January rather than later. Does anyone plan on picking up a Pre on Verizon?
This week, Europe got their first wave of webOS devices, with Palm Pre releasing in Germany on October 13, Spain on October 14, and the UK and Ireland today, courtesy of O2. While Flash 10.1 is expected to come to all Pre models later this year, the O2 device is sporting only webOS 1.1.3, although North American models already have the improved version 1.2.1. However, rumors suggest that Europe may pass on 1.2 altogether, and join with the rest of us for webOS version 1.3.
New apps are also arriving to the App Catalog in light of the European release, with some apps looking to be exclusive to Germany or Europe. No doubt, unlockers are also looking to take advantage of the new GSM version and get them into North America as soon as possible. Does anyone plan on unlocking and importing a GSM Pre to the US or Canada?
O2 recently held a UK event for the Palm Pre (see video above), along with fancy launch parties in Spain and Germany (see links for photos) just prior to each release. The UK market in particular is showing a positive response to webOS, with a new survey showing that demand for the Pre in the UK is even higher than the initial demand for the iPhone (26% vs. 16%, respectively). Back home, the Pre is also staying strong, with the Pre joining the "Top 10 most brilliant products of 2009" in Popular Mechanics. "(the Palm Pre) sets a new standard by putting all the best available technologies together", they state.
Meanwhile, the next stop for the webOS train looks to be Mexico, where blogger Javier Matuk posted a YouTube video (since deleted) showing off the Palm Pre in Mexico, reports PalmAddicts. The device may come out by the end of the month on Telcel, their largest carrier.
Check out some of the new pricing charts, as well as a UK unboxing video and one of the German Palm Pre commercials after the jump.
With the European releases of the GSM Pre coming in about a week to the UK, Ireland, and Germany on O2 and to Spain on Telefonica, early reviews are starting to stream in, reports Precentral. While not as head-turning as the first Sprint reviews from the US, European Palm users and developers will now have webOS in their hands. The GSM version was first spotted in February in Barcelona, and now consumers won't have to wait much longer.
The Times (UK) see the Pre as a "worthy competitor to the iPhone. Beautiful, easy to use, yet able to do complex tasks". While apps are still a sore point, webOS is where the Pre really comes into its own.
Slashgear (US) got their hands on a GSM version, and note that the GSM Pre will only ship with webOS 1.1.3, while "parity" between the CDMA version (Version 1.2.1 or later) won't come until later in 2009. In place of 3G, the O2 version will have UMTS/HSPA with EDGE/GSM support. The 8GB storage limit is also starting to show its age. However, Flash 10.1 beta should greatly improve multimedia capabilities on all Pre handsets.
Golem (Germany), via a translated page, wish Palm had added a memory expansion slot and calls the keyboard "unsatisfactory", lagging behind Treo 650 and 680 models in typing comfort, although still better than an on-screen keyboard. Cards opened rather slowly, so speed could still be optimised. However, webOS helps make it the first "real competitor" to the iPhone.
The Palm Pixi also got a taste of GSM today, as Ubergizmo reports that a Vietnamese site managed to secure a GSM prototype of the Pixi (below, right), sporting only 4GB as opposed to 8GB in the US model. It's likely an early prototype similar to the early rumored AT&T model we glimpsed back in April, so it makes sense that Palm will bring it up to 8GB spec at launch. While we should see the CDMA Pixi by the holidays, availability of the GSM version is still unknown, although early next year would make sense for Palm to establish the market for webOS abroad.
Palm continues to expand their European launch of the Pre, first confirming the UK, Ireland and Germany releases for this month, and now saying "Hola" to Spain on October 14. As predicted as early as March (with a GSM Pre spotted in Barcelona) and firmed up in July, Telefonica will be the exclusive carrier of the handset in Spain, with subsidiary O2 providing for UK, Ireland and Germany.
According to Webosmania (a Spanish webOS blog), the handset will be offered on a 24-month contract, with the device costing €179 (or less) on various voice and data plans (below). The phone can be purchased at Telefonica outlets and online at www.telefonica.es, while further information can be found at the official portal.
For those still toting around their Palm OS apps, MotionApps has just released their latest version of the Classic application. In addition to HotSync functionality via Wifi and Bluetooth (an anticipated feature long in development), the update includes:
Full screen mode
Quick keyboard mode switch
Improved reset functionality
Reduced Power consumption
Other minor tweaks and improvements
In addition, v2.0 includes ClassicApps, a bundle of freeware and trial Palm OS applications that you can get by tapping "install Free Apps" from the menu. The update is free for registered users of 1.0 and 1.1.
Good news for Palm fans in Europe: The Pre is finally scheduled to hit shores abroad this month exclusively via O2, coming to Germany on October 13, closely followed by UK and Ireland releases on October 16. This confirms earlier rumors that Europe would get the device well ahead of the holiday season, besting competitors Vodafone and Orange.
This will be the first GSM Palm Pre, confirmed as quad-band with dual-band UMTS support. Looks like retailers taking preorders for the GSM version (previously shunned by Palm), may not have to wait too much longer to start exporting the devices to the US and Canada. "There's a lot of excitement about Palm Pre in Europe as we continue to expand Palm webOS products across new carriers and countries...users in Germany can see firsthand how Palm webOS offers a new and better smartphone experience," stated Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein in a press release.
Germany is also accelerating their promotion of the new smartphone, holding launch parties on October 12th in select cities. This is along the lines of Sprint launch parties held in the US, which featured early access to the Pre along with food, wine, and even celebrity appearances. Translation from Precentral:
There will be big Pre parties in six O2 stores in Germany with music, buffets, and "many more surprises". The first 50 people who will buy a pre will get a free Touchstone from O2.
The parties will be on October 12th in the following cities: Berlin, Munich, Hannover, Dortmund, Köln, and Frankfurt.
In terms of webOS, it is also rumored that the GSM Pre may ship with only version 1.1.3, and we may not see the improved 1.2 update until November when they iron out compatibility issues. Also, paid apps could take some time to migrate to the European version.
Monthly pricing will be quite competitive, with 18-month plans in the UK running from just £29.38 with unlimited data and Wi-Fi hotspot access. Pricing charts after the break: