Palm has just announced a number of changes its webOS development platform that should really be welcomed by developers. They are fully blessing application distribution outside of the App Catalog, open source developers will no longer have to pay a dime to have their applications in the App Catalog, and Palm will also open up all their analytical data for developers to use. Instant update: the official press release is out too.
The announcements were made during a meeting Palm gave to allow its newest employees,Ben Galbraith and Dion Almaer, who both came over from Mozilla, the chance to talk about the current state and future of the webOS development platform. The key theme? Open, open, open.
The biggest news is probably that Palm is officially blessing the distribution of applications outside of its own App Catalog. “What this means is that developers can simply submit their apps to Palm, and Palm will return to them a URL that they can then blog, tweet, do whatever they want to share it. When a person then clicks on that URL they can easily install the app, bypassing any kind of store,” writes TechCrunch, who attended the event, “And while Palm is providing the URL, it is not going to be reviewing the apps in any way – a clear dig at Apple’s approval process.”
This moves the webOS much closer to Android territory. Palm has always been permissive about the so-called homebrew community, which distributed applications outside of Palm’s App Catalog. However, the developer agreement was still ambiguous about the practice – this is now resolved.
The second big change is certainly one that can be attributed to Galbraith and Almaer’s history at Mozilla: application developers who want to release their application as open source inside the App Catalog will no longer have to pay the 99USD admission fee, nor the 50USD per application. These two changes combined should make the webOS a very tempting platform for open source developers.
Lastly, Palm is opening up its analytical data to developers, so that they can use it to improve their applications. This data contains, among other things, crash logs and information on application usage. This is in contrast to Apple, who keeps all this information to itself.
The meeting ended with everybody in the audience getting a free Pre and wireless Touchstone charger. It is clear now that Palm wants to take the open route. While the company had been hinting at that, it is great to see this commitment made official.
This could potentially propel WebOS into being serious competition to other platforms and boost sales of Palm phones.