Palm Demoes Pre Third Party Apps, Says SDK Ready for Release

After a bit of a long pause, Palm has fed the media with some more details on its upcoming lifesaver, the Palm Pre smartphone with its webOS. Even though Palm didn’t give a launch date or pricing information, it did show us a number of third party applications. And there was also something for those of you who still swear by PalmOS Garnet: a fully functional PalmOS emulator for the Pre. There’s also some news on the Mojo SDK.

Let’s start off with a bit of news that will interest potential webOS developers. At the Web 2.0 Expo (yes, that is a real conference with real people who talk about Digg and YouTube comments), Palm announced that its Mojo SDK for webOS is ready for release, so it probably won’t be long before someone on the internet tears it apart and gives us more detailed information on how the webOS works.

On to the application demos. At the CTIA 2009 conference in Las Vegas, Palm held a special invitee-only demonstration of several third party applications written for the Palm Pre. The first one they showed was Fandango, an application by the movie ticket website with the same name. You can view trailers, check the show schedule, and buy tickets. The Pre will automatically add an entry in your calendar with a reminder after you’ve bought tickets. Pretty slick.

Another application was FlightView, which does exactly what you’d expect: you can track flights, and it will use the GPS functionality of the Pre to locate the nearest airport. Nothing revolutionary.

An application that proved to be more impressive was Pandora, from the internet radio website (only available to US residents due to licensing constraints). You can listen to various internet radio streams, and thanks to the multitasking abilities of the Pre, you can leave the application running in the background, and interact with it using the notificatio area at the bottom of the screen.

Sprint TV also made its appearance. It’s an application that allows you to watch various TV channels on your Pre, but according to attendants, the image quality was a bit choppy at times. However, this happens on other handsets as well, so it might just be the Sprint TV itself sucks.

A couple of more applications were demoed, and Engadget made a video of the demonstration; notice the universal search (like iPhoneOS 3.0) and the detailed explanation of the notification system:

PalmOS emulator

The real cherry is of course the PalmOS emulator that’s also coming out, and I must say, it brought back a lot of memories. It’s pretty impressive how well the phone handles the emulation. Applications do not have to be ported; the .prc file can just be dragged onto it, and it’ll work. Here’s a video:

I’m pretty much impressed by the demonstration, as well as how well the device seems to handle multitasking. The PalmOS emulator will be a lifesaver for people who rely on a specific PalmOS application, but apart from that, it’s just cool. All in all, it appears that the Pre is shaping up to be an excellent addition to the smartphone market, and while it obviously won’t make everyone dump their iPhone, it certainly is a serious piece of competition for Apple – iPhoneOS 3.0 or not.


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