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webOS News and Rumors

Sprint Open Developer Conference coming Oct. 26-28

For those on the cooler side of CA, you may want to check out Sprint's first open developer conference in Santa Clara, October 26-28. This is Sprint's ninth annual developer conference, but the first time the event is open to the entire development community. Palm is a platinum sponsor of the event, and will head up several hours of presentations, including keynote addresses from Ben Galbraith and Dion Almaer, directors of Developer Relations for Palm and former Mozilla developers.

The price of admission isn't cheap ($350), but it could be a great opportunity to get word of your app(s) out and to network with other mobile developers (Blackberry, WM, and Android devs will also be on hand). Some of the presentations will include:

  • The basics of webOS programming, and the fundamental elements you'll need to think about to start building your own webOS app
  • How to design your app and how to develop the user interface for your app, so that it both fits in with other webOS apps and stands out to make your app appealing
  • How to code your app, including details about how to use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript within the concept of the Mojo Framework to write a successful webOS app
  • Tools, programs, and other resources from Palm to help you with your app development

In addition, Palm technical experts will be on hand to help work on your app during a webOS "coding kitchen" after the formal presentations.

Click here to check out the agenda or to register.




The Palm Developer Experience: Video and Profiles

Palm recently released a video discussing webOS and the new Palm Developer Program, which gives more freedom to developers in marketing and distributing webOS apps. In addition to a few words from Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein, the video features Dion Almaer and Ben Galbraith, former Mozilla developers recruited by Palm to head up Developer Relations.

Senior VP or Marketing Katie Mitic briefly discusses the enhanced freedom that Palm is providing, with input from Lawrence Davison, head of Engineering for Marks/Space; Seppo Helava, Lead Designer for Self Aware; and Phil Constantinou, VP of Engineering for Evernote. "Building on those core values of trusting developers, you're going to see more programs just like this [the Palm Developer Program].", states Almaer. "As a developer, there's very little new to learn to hit the ground running...you can take your investment in creating applications, and leverage it in other places", Galbraith continues.

In addition to the video, Palm also has been running a series of developer profiles; interviews with various devs about their experience with webOS, the Mojo SDK and building their apps. You may be familiar with some of the apps already, so definitely worth a look.




Palm to offer web distribution of webOS apps in December

At a small gathering in San Francisco last night, Palm unveiled a plan to allow developers more openness when it comes to app distribution and e-commerce. "We want to leave it all out there. You know, ‘The Full Monty'" Palm's senior VP of marketing, Katie Mitic stated. For those familiar with the term, it doesn't get much more open than that.

And what does the "webOS Developer Program" as Palm calls it, improve upon? Mainly, you will soon have two options for marketing your applications; the App Catalog, which we are already familiar with, and web distribution, where Palm will provide a sales transaction and fulfillment service to promote applications online. Developers can freely promote their apps online with a unique URL, and customers can still download and install the application OTA. In addition, if your code is open-sourced, Palm will waive the $99 annual fee. From the press release:

This (web) distribution option offers a fast self-certification process as well as the ability for developers to control the distribution and promotion of their applications using the online marketing vehicles they already have and creating new ones as they see fit.

As for promotion, Palm has you covered: Public feeds of application URLs, reviews, ratings and stats will help applications find their market; and directories, ranking mechanisms and "other inventive services" will emerge to help bring exposure to your work. Palm will also have a unique auction process for developers to obtain prominent placement in the App Catalog.



Adobe Flash for Smartphones - v10.1 now running on Palm Pre!

There has just been a confirmation - Flash running on the Pre! Currently it can play video using a software codec, but hardware acceleration is coming. Check out the demo video below:

I wish I could have been at the Adobe Max conference in LA to see it. But apparently the developer community will recieve the beta sometime before the end of the year.

While I took my information from blog feeds and Twitter updates, the new Flash Player 10.1 will be "smartphone enabled" with multitouch, accelerometer, and screen orientation detection. It was promised to us a few months ago, and now it's finally here. From the press release:

Adobe Systems Incorporated today unveiled Adobe Flash Player 10.1 software for smartphones, smartbooks, netbooks, PCs and other Internet-connected devices, allowing content created using the Adobe Flash Platform to reach users wherever they are. A public developer beta of the browser-based runtime is expected to be available for Windows® Mobile, Palm® webOS and desktop operating systems including Windows, Macintosh and Linux later this year.


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Palm webOS 1.2.1 released; fixes iTunes sync, Exchange and more

Palm's latest 38MB update from webOS 1.2.0 to 1.2.1 this weekend addresses several issues, including fixes to Exchange support, media sync and media streaming. Particularly, they fixed the broken iTunes sync yet again (previously disabled and then patched in webOS 1.1, and promised as a feature on the Palm Pixi). This is despite the USB-IF previously siding with Apple. "Usage of any other company's Vendor ID...appears to violate the attached policy", they state. So how does the Pre accomplish this? Precentral notes that Palm set the Manufacturer ID to read as Apple, and possibly modifying the serial number and USB Product ID to match an iPod Video. What your computer sees is:

USB Product ID: 0x1209
USB Vendor ID: 0x05ac (Apple, Inc)
Manufacturer: Apple Inc.

Palm drew heated responses from both critics and supporters of their recent efforts to overcome the iTunes hurdle. For example, I4U News suggests that Apple should just leave the syncing capability intact, as it gives Palm undeserved publicity. And with the popularity of webOS rising this may be the best solution, rather than continuing to shut out webOS or trying to sue Palm and possibly hurt their image. They note that the Blackberry media sync is perfectly acceptable, as it uses the iTunes music XML file on the customer's computer to sync up content.

Other sites such as RWW suggest that Palm's best route should be to focus entirely on their Amazon MP3 Store (recently updated to allow OTA downloads). With more affordable albums (starting at $4.99) they could start from the ground-up to offer a viable alternative to iTunes. As for new software to house the content, Wired suggests that Palm could buy and improve DVD Jon's DoubleTwist software, which is an established app that already syncs with iTunes and is Amazon MP3-friendly. What do you think of the latest back-and-forth between Palm and Apple?

Full 1.2.1 changelog after the break.



Palm webOS breaks into mobile OS rankings; Pre top-tier in smartphones

According to a report released this week by AdMob, Palm webOS and the Pre are making their mark in worldwide rankings. As of August, Palm webOS inched past Windows Mobile and is coming up behind Android with 4 percent of the worldwide mobile OS market (according to network activity), despite its first apperance in the rankings. Meanwhile, Symbian, RIM, Windows, and Palm OS usage is declining, giving Palm's new platform an opportunity to grow at an accelerated rate, especially with the webOS Pixi still on the way and the Pre coming to Europe later this month. More after the break.


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webOS App Catalog: Paid apps coming soon

With of the release of Palm webOS 1.2 earlier this week sporting numerous improvements, developers and users alike were looking forward to paid apps in the App Catalog. Previous delays aside, time is running out on the latest rumor that Palm will open up the floodgates of e-commerce today, allowing us to finally spend our hard earned paychecks on premium apps. In any regards, a few details of what to expect are available, including:

  • Developers can use hidden tags (added in 1.2) so that apps can be easier to find using Universal Search.
  • Paid apps are tied to your Palm Profile, so deleted apps can be re-downloaded for free.
  • If you get a new webOS device such as upcoming Pixi or a new Pre (i.e. a bricked device from various problems), you can transfer all your apps to the new device.
  • Canadians with a Bell Canada device will still have to wait a bit longer to shell out their cash for paid apps, as no estimate is available yet for e-commerce features.

We will keep you posted once the first paid apps hit the Catalog. Which apps are you most looking forward to on the Pre, and how much are you expecting to pay for them?




App Catalog "Kill Switch" confirmed in webOS 1.2

Along with the new Pre webOS 1.2.0 update, the infamous "kill switch" has been implemented into the App Catalog. According to the "Palm App Catalog End-User Terms & Conditions", Palm can not only remove and modify apps uploaded to the App Catalog, but also remotely do so for apps on your device.

“Palm reserves the right, at its sole discretion and at any time, to add, remove, disable access to, block, or modify the App Catalog, and to add, remove, disable access to, block, or modify remotely any Applications previously downloaded to your device from the App Catalog.”

Of course, this is meant to prevent apps from exhibiting "harmful behavior or unforseen effects" on unexpected users, so we can see how Palm needs to have a (legal) way to remove broken or harmful apps in a New York minute to cover their behind.

This also comes as no surprise, as the iPhone, Android, and Windows Mobile platforms all have a similar system in place (even other mobile devices such as the Kindle). Of note is that webOS Homebrew apps on your device should not be affected, at least for the time being.




Palm Pre webOS 1.2.0 update woes

It's been a couple days since Palm webOS 1.2 was released, bringing a host of improvements to the masses. However, not everyone had a smooth transition to the new version. While the majority of users had a hitch-free experience, reports of problems - ranging from gesture quirks to unexpected hard resets - have already started streaming in. Precentral and MyPre report several issues that users are having since the update:

Reported Issues:

  • After installing the update, some phones hard reset spontaneously. Phones can be restored via the Palm Profile, but servers were temporarily down due to traffic (which shows the volatility of the cloud).
  • When users receive a new IM / SMS notification, only the icon and picture are displayed; no text along with it.
  • Google location services is up to ten miles off target.
  • IMAP idle not working, e-mail messages keep repeating, and Classic WiFi HotSync not working.
  • The launcher only responds to up-swipes in card view, and notifications cannot be minimized with a down-swipe (due to the fact that the down swipe now brings up the top menus).
  • Issues with bluetooth devices - fixed by re-adding the devices.
  • webOS Quick Install broken, so new hacks / homebrew cannot be installed until app is updated.
  • Exchange Activesync has issues with hosted exchange accounts such as 1and1, 4smartphone, and mail2web.
  • Freezing issues reported with Blubbles and Online Radio 1.0.1 apps.
  • Some users report after installing the 79 MB 1.2.0 update, the phone promoted them to install a second 153 MB 1.2.0 update. No problems or new features came from this.

Have you run into any of these or other issues? There seem to be a few more problems than with the 1.1 update, so a 1.2.1 update is likely not far behind. Thankfully, most users had a smooth experience; and for the few who have major issues with the update, the webOS Doctor was also updated recently, allowing you to reset your phone to a factory fresh 1.2.0 if needed.



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