For those worried about future webOS updates inconveniently breaking compatibility with their apps (in the App Catalog), Palm will soon have you covered. Developer Community Manager Chuq Von Rospach writes on webOSdev:
"We are setting up a way for developers with apps in the catalog to have access to upcoming releases of the software to test compatibility of their application. Please drop me an email () with the email addresses of the people you need to have access to the early release and what application you've published and I'll set you up. We're also setting up a private area here on the forums to support this early access."
Other device makers already give early access to updates for developers, so we're happy to see Palm get on the bandwagon. So if you already have an app in the App Catalog and would like to get hooked up with preview builds of webOS, be sure to send off an e-mail to Chuq with your request. It's still unclear though, whether Palm will offer early access to developers distributing via the upcoming web distribution model.
Ben Galbraith and Dion Almaer, Directors of Palm Developer Relations and former Mozilla gurus, gave a keynote at the Sprint Developer Conference this week laying out the upcoming web distribution model that Palm is opening up in December. The program will favor open source developers as well as avoiding some of the fees associated with the App Catalog. For those interested in the scoop, see the video below. Also from the DevCon, Palm demonstrated the code for adding a snooze function to the webOS clock.
Pre users have been enjoying paid apps in the App Catalog for several weeks now; but what are the real challenges that webOS game developers face? How did the company behind the very first paid webOS application (and former #1 game on the iPhone App Store), Air Hockey, choose a price point, and how does developing for webOS differ from the iPhone? Development house Acceleroto answered these questions and more earlier this month in their blog.
The company has been through the full approval process, from applying early for the Mojo SDK, being accepted into the beta program, creating a technical demo and finally going live in the App Catalog. Definitely worth a read for those who want insight into the development cycle. Highlights after the break.
Palm's app catalog is continuing to grow at a rapid pace, with the total number of apps now passing 255. Precentral reports on the latest apps, noting that many were homebrew now finding a place in the App Catalog. So good job to those with apps moving up to the big leagues!
YDice: Yahtzee clone - Free (ScSoft)
The Tip Calculator: $1 (Pictureplaza.eu)
Mezzoman Free: Free version (Marc Zider)
Cow Can: Makes your Pre say "Moo" when you tip it - $0.99 (Ken Torimaru)
Knot Guide: Go back to boy scouts and perfect your knots - $2.99 (WinkPass Creations)
Absolute Fitness: Nutrition and fitness info - $4.99 (Aqua Eagle)
Blackjack: $0.99 (Taylor Marshall)
15 Puzzle: Free (Janni Kovacs)
vCrumbsFree: Find your way home with "virtual breadcrumbs" - Free version (mikagika)
Twee Free: Twitter client - Free version (Delicious Morsel)
Twee: Full-featured twitter client - $2.99
Tiny Twitter: Twitter Client, ported from Windows Mobile - $1.99 (Tiny Byte Software)
GoodMuslim: Free (Xivix Software)
Jobr: Job search app - Free (WebFusion5)
FlashCards Lite: Flash cards - Free version (James Harris)
FlashCards: Full featured flash card app - $6.99
Calql8 Tips: Tip calculator - Free (Calql8)
Trivia: Test your knowledge - $4.99 (Europa Pictures)
Bible Trivia: Test your Bible knowledge - $5.99 (Europa Pictures)
Blocked: $1.99 (Brandon VanBelle)
Tally Counter: For counting things as they pass - $0.99 (InspiringApps)
PreThinking also has the scoop on other recent apps, along with prices. For those on a downloading spree and pushing the app storage limit of their Pre, which of the new apps are your favorite so far?
In addition, Palm Infocenter notes that with Palm picking up the pace on getting new apps into the Catalog, an official PalmNewApps feed has been started to keep up with all the latest in the App Catalog. This is a good alternative to the online index that Palm started this week, which only seems to contain a subset of the available apps. Homebrew fans are also not left in the dark, with an Apps4WebOS feed also covering new homebrew apps.
With mobile social networking booming (a recent USA Today article highlights this trend), to help you get your fix two companies are moving forward on their plans to bring advanced multi IM clients to webOS. The first comes by way of Agile Mobile, who unveiled a preview of their new app for the Pre; and the feature list is quite substantial. The app will include:
Support for AIM, MSN, Windows Live, Yahoo Messenger, GoogleTalk, ICQ, and Jabber
Full buddy list connectivity: Send and receive messages OTA, any time.
Voice messaging push-to-talk: Use your phone as a walkie-talkie and send voice messages to your buddies.
Picture messaging: Snap pics and then send them to any of your buddies.
Video messaging: Video record and instantly send it to buddies on MSN, Yahoo, ICQ, AIM, or Google Talk.
The last point is particularly interesting, especially since video recording hacks for the Pre have proven rather primitive. Could this be the way to finally get video recording capabilities onto the device? If this pans out, it's clear that Agile has invested heavily in development to build up a framework for video recording and messaging, or have an untold partnership with Palm that could involve a future update to webOS and the Mojo SDK.
The other multi IM client in the works is coming by way of Mundu, whose messenger app for the Blackberry won the Handango Championship award for 2009; so we can expect a full-featured port to webOS. Support includes Google Talk, AIM, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, and Jabber. Proprietary features such as Mundu Radio and Mundu SMS are also part of their lineup, and should also see the move to webOS. They already have a mobile specific webpage available for webOS devices.
There is still no firm release date for either client except "coming soon". As for when native Yahoo! support on the Pre is coming, there is also no firm date, although this feature will be standard on the upcoming Pixi handset.
You may remember the useful onscreen keyboard patch designed to add something that Palm probably should have done already by now. Another patch has been recently making the rounds, allowing you to hang up simply by closing the slider. You can already answer calls by opening it, so this patch finally completes the cycle. There's no more need to fish around for the end call button, or have your friends firmly slide it shut while the line stays open to unwanted dialog. Head over to Precentral for the install details.
"This particularly comes in handy when you are upset...and need a quick way to completely shut them up in a rude fashion," writes palmwebos.org. Sounds useful, and sure beats dunking your Pre in a mug of beer when angry.
For those curious about other patches along these lines, milo from Precentral has started a series entitled "There's a Patch For That". Now in its third installment, it details a variety of patches from the onscreen keyboard, to LED notifications, universal search, calendar, and everything in between. Worth a read.
For those hoping to get a full rundown of the webOS App Catalog without the eyestrain (and battery drain) of searching on your device, Palm has you covered. By request, you can now check all available apps online by category, complete with screenshots and summaries.
The app database is limited to a short summary of each and covers only the US App Catalog, but we're hoping they'll expand it with additional app details (such as prices, download size, ranking, reviews, etc.) and to Canadian and European sites where the Pre is now available. Come December Palm will also offer the option for web distribution, where apps can be listed and sold via the web (and through the browser on the Pre). But the browsable listing is definitely a start, and something that the iPhone App Store is still lacking (you're still forced to browse on-device or through a bloated iTunes download).
Palm users looking for more functionality when it comes to handling Office files on the go may now have to wait a bit longer. DataViz recently indicated that the webOS release of their popular document editing software, Docs2Go, may be delayed until early 2010. Although being one of the original Palm Pre launch partners and widely expected to launch this year, apparent issues with coordinating the release with a possibly-necessary webOS ROM update may be cause for the holdup.
Other than this tidbit of information, the company continues to stay tight-lipped about their plans; the webOS teaser page still shows the release as "later this year", so there's still hope they could get their act together for the mobile-office gurus out there. In addition, releasing Docs2Go earlier than later would be a bonus for students and educators, and growing their user base for the upcoming Palm Pixi by offering increased functionality out of the box.
For webOS app gurus who have run out of the paltry 64MB app space limit imposed on the Pre and are getting the dreadful “Sorry, Not Enough Memory” message, don't get too discouraged. MyPre reports that Palm's hidden 256MB partition (further restricted to 64MB) may be officially expanded in November, giving webOS a larger allocation of space to store applications. The space currently allowed is not nearly enough as the App Catalog continues to grow and homebrew apps proliferate.
The update is rumored to come next month, however resizing the partition may be no easy task without a major shakeup in the platform. So take the rumor with some grain of salt; but with webOS 1.3 also rumored to hit in North America and Europe the same month, we're hoping Palm also takes that opportunity to fix the app space issue.
As a more immediate solution, the new Fair Dinkum App Limit app allows you to take full advantage of the 256MB partition, developed by webOS Internals founder Rod Whitby and available via Precentral. This should buy you a fair bit more time to load up your device with additional apps, although increasing the actual partition will need to be eventually addressed by Palm. For a detailed writeup on the Palm Pre app install limit, you can visit Whitby's blog here.