Following the webOS 1.1 update released recently, Palm also released a new version of their Mojo SDK, albeit to slightly less fanfare. The update brings the Windows/Mac devkit to v1.1 (Build 12), and is aimed at fixing certain installer issues with Windows and Macintosh. Palm Developer Community Manager Chuq Von Rospach writes:
I’m happy to announce we’ve released a new version of the SDK and it’s now available for download.
This version is primarily aimed at fixing the installer issues that have been reported on Windows and Macintosh. The “rollback” issue and the problems some people had with the installer on XP with DLLs being replaced improperly leading to BSOD problems are fixed, as is a problem installing on a Mac when the emulator wasn’t properly uninstalled first.
There are no changes to the Linux SDK, and no functionality changes to the SDK itself, so if you’re currently up and running, there’s no need to download and install this update.
There are still a few known issues; more details can be found in the Release Notes. The latest version can be downloaded here.
Since a previous webOS update closed an early e-mail install loophole, developers have been looking for alternative ways to easily install homebrew apps to their device. In the span of just a few weeks, a range of install methods, some more elegant than others (but all with the same result), have come to the surface. Below is a short summary all the homebrew-installing goodness, for when you cook up your latest and greatest apps.
- PreBrew Installer: After setting developer mode on the Pre and installing the program, an icon named "Drop file Here to install Pre App" appears on the desktop. Do what it says and you have your app installed. Windows only.
- Terminal: A command-line terminal for the Pre that is designed to be an on-device homebrew app installer; although it is currently in early, Pre-Alpha stage.
- WebOS Quick Install: A simple, Java-based app you can install on Mac/PC/Linux. Put your Pre into developer mode with the Konami code, then simply drag and drop .ipk files to the app and click install.
- fileCoaster: An on-device file download and .ipk install tool. Along the lines of the e-mail install loophole, you just copy and paste .ipk files into the app, and install homebrew without the need for the desktop. It can also download other files, such as images and MP3s.
Note that all programs are still in alpha or beta stages, so use them at your own risk. However with the variety of installation methods available, now your apps should be free to make their way into the world!
With the homebrew scene already bustling and the Mojo SDK released, it was only a matter of time before someone got a native command-line terminal working on the Pre. Precentral notes that the program, currently in pre-alpha stage, allows you to run commands directly on the device. Its primary purpose is the world's first on device homebrew app installer. Below are a couple notes from the developers:
"This is early-alpha software. Consider yourself lucky if it works at all. Many people have put many hours of hard work in to get just this far...now that the first on-device homebrew installation application is available, courtesy of an open source development team, let's see which of the closed development teams working on dedicated GUI front-ends to on-device homebrew installation will be second..."
Head over to webOS-internals for all the deets and operational controls. The latest update (released today) includes increased security, color, arrow keys, automatic scrolling (you can also flick to scroll), and a much-needed ESC hotkey.
Previous Linux homebrew for webOS has included an Apache webserver and enabling the Optware Package Feed. Are there any other Linux programs or functionality that you would like to see on the Pre?
Just a few days ago Palm webOS 1.1 was released, adding a host of new security features, as well as many undocumented features. Palm Infocenter covered some of the new features in more depth today, along with many screenshots showing all the nuts and bolts of the update, so you know what you're getting into. A summary of what they covered is below:
- New NFL App: Provides game day stats, scores, standings and offers live audio broadcasts of every regular season game. Live video NFL games More once the season begins.
- Photo app: Slightly faster including photo transitions; photos now slide in from left
- Memos and e-mail: E-mail a memo easily from the drop-down menu, auto complete dictionary expanded, GUI improvements show icons for responded / flagged e-mails
- App Catalog: Not much new, but they hint at possible hidden developer features?
- System: New notification sounds, although you still cannot change them manually (although homebrew apps such as Pimp My Pre give you more control). Center button now turns on Pre when slider is open.
Some additional features are also noted at Precentral, such as previewing e-mail (which was present, but hardly noticed before the update). Also, you can double-tap to start text selection in editable fields. Also on the possible Google Maps bug, sometimes searching Google Maps loads the program with no controls, instead plopping you down at your current GPS-triangulated location.
What do you think Palm has in store for the next update?
Just days after webOS 1.1 was tipped to be arriving within a month (and rumored for July 22), Palm let loose their first 'major' update to the webOS platform today, with the 87MB mandatory OTA download bringing some great new features to the Pre. New security features that enterprise users will enjoy are:
- IT initiated Remote wipe
- PIN/password of minimum length w/ complexity (numeric or alphanumeric)
- Device wipe with X number of failed PIN attempts
- Auto-lock after X minutes of activity
- Improved digital certificates
Also included are tweaks to the built-in calendar, camera, clock, contacts, e-mail, and more. The full changelog can be found here.
Football fans will appreciate the new application, Sprint NFL Mobile Live, which allows you to watch or listen to live NFL games on your phone.
And in an bold move, Palm has re-enabled media sync with iTunes 8.2.1., just days after the latest update from Apple broke compatibility with the Pre. But will Apple be quick to shut out the Pre again?
Precentral also is keeping a note of other 'undocumented features' that went under the radar, including:
- Notification sound changed to softer, though richer sound
- Animated drop down and context menus
- Photo app improvements: More distinct bar between photos and albums, preview thumbs also slide in from the right, faster photo rendering
- Memo app now has a menu option to e-mail a memo.
- New font for the Browser (Palm's system font)
- Better Gmail handling
- New icon for AIM
- More autocomplete / autocorrect entries in the dictionary.
- Center button now turns on the screen with slider open, not just a keyboard key or the power button.
Less welcomed updates include disabling the key combo in the browser to open in a new card, as well as some mixed reports of problems with universal search in Google Maps.
Even with all the new features, we think a couple more apps would have been nice...but those will definitely come in good time, especially with the public Mojo SDK now out. Are there any other useful features that you found, and looking ahead, what would you like to see addressed in the next update?
With the Mojo SDK finally released publicly, many have had a chance to reflect on the programs available so far in the App Catalog, and whether the Pre is fitting with their personal and professional lives. MobiHealthNews wrote recently on 'The sorry state of Palm Pre medical apps', citing a need for some new webOS apps in the field; "On the medical app front, competition is sparse for the Pre," they complain.
However, some relief is found in that Classic allows health practitioners to upgrade their old Palm devices and not lose too much functionality. However, even with the latest update (which will add HotSync capability), emulating Palm OS medical apps perhaps isn't an ideal solution, especially when dealing with life-and-death situations.
So what can doctors do to ease their transition to the Palm Pre? The Palmdoc Chronicles is doing a good job keeping track of compatible Palm OS medical apps via Classic (a compatibility list by MotionApps should also be a good supplement), as well as upcoming webOS apps. Here are a few Palm OS apps already working on the Pre (more are being tested):
- Skyscape and Unbound
- Statcoder apps
- Shots 2008
Meanwhile, one developer is well into completing a webOS version of OncoPDA, which could be the first of many medical apps on the Pre. In the meantime, it looks as if Classic is the way to go for doctors making the move to webOS. Do you have any other advice or plan to develop an app that could be useful to medical practictioners?
While many developers have been enjoying the public release of the Palm Mojo SDK, and developers such as Spaz developer Ed Finkler give praise, others are not quite as impressed with webOS. iPhone developer Craig A. Hunter described in a blog post that his excitement for getting his hands on the SDK quickly fell through the roof when he found out access to the hardware, particularly OpenGL and accelerometer response, was extremely limited, at least for "serious games".
Sadly, my suspicions were confirmed -- there is no way for developers to tap into OpenGL ES using the webOS SDK, despite the fact that the hardware supports it. Strike two -- while the webOS SDK allows access to raw accelerometer data, it's limited to a 4 Hz sampling rate (that's four samples per second)...most games need at least 20 Hz for smooth inputs.
He goes on to state that accelerometer support in webOS is suitable for basic movement and interface rotation, but that's about it. Motion-based apps, such as gMeter (vehicle performance) and greenMeter (eco driving) require even stricter accelerometer reponse, from 50-100 Hz to be practical.
While this could change, this will likely limit big game studios from investing in webOS, except for casual/mobile games. Palm and Sprint have already stated in a webcast that 3D gaming "will not be featured in webOS 1.0", so this certainly doesn't come at a surprise.
Another iPhone developer, Stephen Stroughton Smith, defends webOS, stating that these stumbling blocks are a "mere by-product of the immaturity of the platform". The Pre simply doesn't have an OpenGL ES graphics driver. It's merely a software limitation, which will be improved upon with updates. The accelerometer issue could also be "an oversight" by Palm, that also can be remedied.
Also, Palm has already hinted that they are a much more open company than Apple with the hacking community. For example, Playstation, MAME, and NES emulators ported from Linux could help tide gamers over until the platform opens up. Moreover, Flash 10 Beta, expected in October, could help give gaming a boost for the Pre.
How do you feel about developing with the Mojo SDK so far, and if you've developed for the iPhone, have you felt limited by the capabilities of webOS and the Pre?
UPDATE: It appears Palm is taking gaming seriously on the Pre. A recent call for a Graphics Frameworks Engineer at Palm is one of many job postings directly relating to webOS hardware and software. An excerpt is below:
"Palm is establishing a new software team to focus on building the best tools and technologies to allow game developers to design and develop innovative gaming applications for Palm's WebOS platform."
The new hire is required to implement, integrate, debug, and optimize graphics and gaming frameworks, as well as investigate and prototype new technologies and APIs. 5+ years of experience in 3D graphics, hardware piplines, and programmable shaders are a requirement.
So as Palm's new gaming team becomes established, we should expect good things in the way of 3D gaming and game developer support in webOS.
For those using webOS to run their Palm OS apps, but desire HotSync capability for installation, backups, and more, fear not: MotionApps is closing in on completing an update that will add the much-requested HotSync functionality to their Classic emulator. From their blog:
"We have HotSync working on our development devices and it is successfully syncing with standard Palm Desktop software that is shipping with Centro and other Palm OS devices. New version of Classic will be able to perform HotSync operations over Bluetooth or WiFi connections...as far as we can tell everything works without any limitations."
This is good news for loyal Palm fans, and brings Classic that much closer to seamless backwards compatibility with the huge library of Palm OS apps, utilities and games already out there. Despite their progress, MotionApps still does not have an ETA on the update.
The previous update added basic sound and increased stability, and MotionApps recently introduced a new portal as a database for Palm OS app compatibility.