We have lots of Palm new for you today, since the company released its quarterly results yesterday. The company also opened up public beta access to Ares, its browser-based integrated development environment for the webOS. Which to me, as a non-developer, looks totally awesome. webOS 1.3.5 is also on its way, which will bring battery life and performance improvements, among other things.
Palm’s results and future prospects
Let’s start with the financial results, because as already predicted by Palm itself, they’re not yet anything to get excited about. Since the actual numbers are gibberish to me anyway, I figured I’d just point to the press release for those among us that do fully understand them. Engadget offers some insight into the numbers.
Palm already predicted last quarter that results would continue to be not that stellar of the coming quarters; the company is in it for the long term. Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein stated in the press release that they still feel good about the long term.
“We are continuing to execute strongly against our long-term strategy with the delivery of Palm Pixi, the new carrier launches completed this quarter, and the upcoming opening of Palm’s full developer program,” Rubinstein said, “We’re still in the early stages of a long race, and we’re energized by the opportunity to compete in this exciting market. We remain confident that Palm’s innovative product design capabilities, integrated cloud services and the differentiated and delightful Palm webOS experience will provide the foundation for our sustained success.”
During the investor call, Rubinstein had a lot more to say about Palm’s prospects, which is covered by PreCentral. During said call, Rubinstein also confirmed webOS 1.3.5, which will bring, among other things, much needed battery life and speed improvements to the young mobile platform. It will also eliminate the dreaded application limit.
Not long after, Palm unveiled Project Ares, and opened public beta access to this new, in-browser development environment. This is a development environment for the webOS which runs entirely within the browser (Firefox, Chrome, or Safari – no IE), in keeping with the foundations of the webOS. Its main features:
- Complete integrated development environment
- Drag-and-drop interface builder
- Code editor
- Visual debugger
- Log viewer
- Source control integration
- Fingertip access to the full library of Mojo UI widgets
- Push-button project & scene creation
- Drag-and-drop file upload
- Instant project upload & download for seamless desktop/cloud workflow
- Preview apps in the browser
- Run apps directly on the webOS emulator or device (requires SDK installation)
- Use Ares in Safari, Chrome or Firefox
A relatively basic sample application built with Ares is already available in the Palm App Catalog.
“Like webOS, Project Ares embodies Palm’s belief that the future of mobile will be built on the web,” Palm writes, “Project Ares aims to enable a next-generation mobile development workflow, in which developers move quickly and seamlessly from editing in a browser, to debugging on a device, to selling applications in Palm’s App Catalog or on the web.”
Ares could certainly cause an infusion of applications into the App Catalog. Right now, there are about 800 applications in the Catalog, a tenfold improvement since the last quarterly results presentation thing. It is crucial to note, however, that the App Catalog is still very much in beta, and not open to everyone. Its final opening is imminent, and combined with Ares, the future certainly does look a lot brighter.
I still believe Palm is getting all this right. They have the controlled experience, including an application store, but they also allow distribution of applications outside of this app store. Furthermore, application development is free, the SDK is free, the IDE can be run entirely within a browser, and you don’t need to learn a fancy programming language. The only thing missing right now is WebGL support, but supposedly, this is coming to webOS too.
An even bigger problem, of course, is the simple fact that it is very hard to actually buy a webOS device in most of the world. Palm is also working on this, ready to engage with more carriers all around the world. Let’s hope it’s not too late.
Mainly because of 2 reasons
1) Still not a lot of native apps
2) Android has really gotten its act together to create good software and hardware making it a clear cut competitor in the smart phone market.
Palm still has a very innovative UI and the ability to run multiple apps. If they don’t build around their platform’s strengths, they will lose any chance of making a comeback.
Very bold move, all this web interface on mobiles – mobile development in a browser.
I hope they succeeded, they seem nicer than your average bear (Apple, Google, Microsoft).
You can use Dashcode to do this for the iPhone today.
With it you can make standalone, offline, iPhone web apps, that can be easily installed on the iPhone, “for free” (you need a mac, naturally), no sign up, no authorization, etc.
The problem remains, however, beyond the API aspects (on the iPhone, you don’t have total access to the phones feature set) of simply performance.
Even with the promise of Mozilla’s mobile browser, and their tauting of improved JS performance, Apples JS is no slouch. FF, Google, and Apple are all pretty competitive in terms of performance.
But they still lack a bit of “snap” on the slower mobile machines. JS is simply still too heavy.
Dashcode is no replacement for XCode and Obj-C, but it’s not bad either. It’s nice to have the option on the iPhone for both kinds of apps.
I think the Pre will do better when they include a native option.