updated 02:25 am EDT, Thu April 2, 2009
WebOS Classic and Sync
Palm today took aggressive steps to expand support for the webOS by adding legacy support, Internet sync, a larger developer program and new third-party apps it says showcase the new mobile platform. The company has revealed that outside firm MotionApps has developed a utility known as Classic that emulates support for PalmOS software. Like its rough equivalent in Apple's Mac OS X, it creates a virtual environment that works with "most" apps; the change to a full touchscreen OS requires that MotionApps put in simulated buttons. It should launch at the same time as the Pre, which should ship to Sprint in late spring.
The smartphone creator also plans to tackle services like Apple's MobileMe and Microsoft's My Phone with its own cloud sync service. Developers will have access to a platform known as the Mojo Messaging Service that will let developers have information sent to and from a subscription system that automatically flags new content and pushes it out to webOS phones. While initially limited in what it can handle, Palm expects it to broaden significantly. Palm will expose the feature to programmers when the Mojo SDK that underpins webOS is made generally available.
As part of its effort to encourage support, Palm has complemented cloud sync by saying it will provide access to its Mojo SDK to a "broader set" of developers than the small group that had initially been let in. The expansion will still be small but should expand to include every interested developers as tools are refined to a more usable state.
Completing the updates are word of webOS versions of apps normally limited by iPhones. Fandango continues to allow users to check movie showtimes and buy tickets but exploits Palm's Synergy to integrate the movie with other apps. As demonstrated to Electronista at a press event, committing to watching a movie automatically makes an appointment in the calendar for its running time. Users can also hook into GPS to find directions to the theater.
Pandora, in turn, says it has developed a version of its own recommendation-based radio app "in no time" and notes that the multitasking on webOS lets it stream music in the background, including with a notification bar at the bottom that lets users pause or skip without having to switch back. Critics have charged that the iPhone's current insistence on third-party music apps having to remain active limits their usefulness.
A NASCAR app is also in the works to please Sprint customers used to the feature and will have live position updates as well as detailed driver stats.
Fandango for webOS