January 27, 2009

Yes: This Is Why I Want A Palm Pre

Filed under: Groundwork — mikecane @ 5:37 pm

Strategic shortcomings of Pre in the post-iPhone era

The Pre challenge

As much as can be gleaned from a presentation, Pre does two things better than all the other iPhone competitors so far: attack Apple’s weak points and advance the art of mobile device design in its own right. There are the obvious ones iPhone naysayers have been quick to highlight: physical keyboard, pervasive multitasking, background processing, removable battery, Bluetooth stereo, camera flash and, of course, copy & paste.

More significantly, however, Pre goes beyond the iPhone in some interesting ways. Its TI OMAP 3430 processor is the highest performance, most power-efficient processor available from the ARM family. Pre is the first major phone with an optional back that can magnetically attach to a conductive device for charging wirelessly. Optimized for on-the-go, one-hand operation, it incorporates a “gesture bar” at the bottom that stands apart visually from the screen but is integral to it in being able to initiate a number of device-wide gestures. But what really separates Pre from all other iPhone-killers is the uniquely Apple-like systems thinking that has resulted in what Palm calls Cards and Synergy, as parts of its new Web OS.

Cards is like Mac OS X Exposé in that, with a gesture, all running apps/windows are scaled down as a horizontal strip of small “cards.” Users can not only drag, re-arrange and flick these apps/windows off the screen, but also interact with them as they continue to be active.

Synergy, on the other hand, exposes Apple’s hitherto weak spot in social computing. Pre can seamlessly integrate multiple email, SMS, IM and social network accounts by keeping data separate but presentation unified. This also allows users to branch off into any of those services from within any entry point, without having to switch accounts or applications.

System-wide as well as cloud-based live search, local storage via HTML5, visual WebKit bookmarks, unified calendaring, unobtrusive notifications and a number of other software features indicate that, unlike other iPhone-killers, Palm has thought through a variety of pain points currently besetting the iPhone. Pre’s interface consistency goes much deeper than the few splashy touch-based screens we’ve come to expect from the recent crop of iPhone-killers that fall back to WIMP ugliness as soon as users navigate one or two levels down into an app.

This is an excellent analysis.

I never sat down with a checklist of things the iPhone was missing or what I thought I wanted it to have (aside from applications — from third parties — and those bases are now nearly covered), so seeing everything put into words for me in the above was a Yes! moment for me.

I like the iPhone, I won’t throw dirt at it, but I have to admit that compared to the Pre, it seems like the Newton compared to the original Palm Pilot: suddenly passé.

Classic PalmOS: Soon A Memory?

Filed under: Musings — mikecane @ 4:00 pm

Rooting around for Palm Pre posts, I came across one that has been deleted from the blog that published it.

It states that within two months after the introduction of the Palm Pre, the Palm Centro will be euthanized.

This is a screensnap of the Technorati cached copy:


Perhaps it was clearly false and that’s why it got pulled.

But it does bring up the bigger question: How long will Palm keep classic PalmOS going after the Pre is on sale?

Why support two platforms? Why devote any resources to supporting a platform that’s clearly destined for oblivion anyway?

With Windows Mobile, Classic PalmOS, and Palm webOS, Palm will be supporting three operating systems. Something has to go.

Let it be Classic PalmOS.

PreSpotting On Twitter #2

Filed under: PreSpotting — mikecane @ 2:30 pm

Two intriguing tweets:


That’s Computer Shopper, so I can understand that.

This one is a mystery:


According to the blog linked to his Twitter profile, he’s located in Brooklyn, NY. There’s a living Palm Pre in the NYC area?!!?

And Alfie has taken to writing entire lovetweets to the Pre:


The Pre And The Cloud And You #4

Filed under: Groundwork — mikecane @ 12:29 pm


The Future of the Desktop is a very interesting post that’s relevant to the Palm Pre and what it’s attempting to achieve as a device.

Here are some bits that stand out:

Is the desktop of the future going to just be a web-hosted version of the same old-fashioned desktop metaphors we have today?

No. There have already been several attempts at copying the old-fashioned “files and folders” desktop interface to the Web, but they have not caught on. Imitations desktops to-date have simply been clunky and slow imitations of the real-thing at best. Others have been overly slick. But one thing they all have in common: None of them have nailed it. People don’t want to manage all their information on the Web in the same interface they use to manage data and apps on their local PC. The Web is an entirely different medium than the desktop and it requires a new kind of interface. The desktop of the future – what some have called “the Webtop” – still has yet to be invented.

Emphasis added by me.

The Card interface Palm has created is a different way of interacting with applications and information. A good first step.

I don’t want to extract too much from the post — you should go there and read all of it — but this is also relevant:

The painful process of using synchronization utilities to keep data on our different devices in-synch will finally be a thing of the past. Similarly an entire class of applications for remote-PC access will also become extinct. Instead, all devices will synch with the cloud, where your applications, data and desktop workspace state will live as a unified, hosted service. Your desktop will appear on whatever device you login to, just as you left it wherever you last accessed it. This shift harkens back to previous attempts to revive thin-client computing – such as Sun Microsystems’ Java Desktop – but this time it is going to actually become mainstream.

Emphasis added by me.

And this ties into what I brought up yesterday:

The Portable Desktop
The underlying data in the future desktop, and in all associated services it connects, will be represented using open-standard data formats. Not only will the data be open, but the semantics of the data – the schema that defines it – will also be defined in an open way. The value of open linked-data and open semantics is that data will not be held prisoner anywhere: it will be portable and will be easy to integrate with other data. The emerging Semantic Web and Data Portability initiatives provide a good set of open standards for enabling this to happen.

Due to open-standards and data-portability, your desktop and data will be free from “platform lock-in.” This means that your Webtop might even be portable to a different competing Webtop provider someday. If and when that becomes possible, how will Webtop providers compete to add value?

Emphasis added by me.

There’s much more there. Talk of a “personal cloud,” federated semantic systems, and even the term “WebOS” (as distinct from “Palm webOS,” but it indicates clearly Palm’s aims!).

The TI OMAP 3430 CPU: Some Features

Filed under: Groundwork — mikecane @ 12:08 pm

I was reading the description of the Texas Instruments OMAP 3430 processor that powers the Pre and came across some very interesting information that could point to features Palm could add via webOS updates. Currently, none of these features have been announced as Pre capabilities:

Multistandard video file support and DVD-camcorder quality video recording

The increased capabilities of the IVA2+ enables multi-standard (MPEG4, H264, Windows Media Video, RealVideo etc.) encode and decode at DVD resolutions. With the advanced multimedia capabilities of the OMAP3430 a multi-standard DVD-quality camcorder can be added to a phone for the first time.


IVA™ 2+ (Image Video Audio) accelerator enables multi-standard (MPEG4, WMV9, RealVideo, H263, H264) encode/decode at D1 (720×480 pixels) 30 fps

OpenGL and OpenVG

The OMAP3430 processor embeds Imagination Technologies’ POWERVR SGX™ graphics core, and supports OpenGL ES® 2.0 and OpenVG™, providing superior graphics performance and advanced user interface capabilities. TI is enabling sophisticated and dynamic images with “smart pixel” technology offered via OpenGL ES 2.0.

High-quality audio and USB On-The-Go

TWL4030 power management/audio codec companion device [includes] a high-fidelity audio/voice codec, class-AB/D audio amplifiers, [and] high-speed USB 2.0 OTG transceiver[.]

Video output

Flexible system support
* Composite and S-video TV output
* XGA (1024×768 pixels), 16M-color (24-bit definition) display support
* Flatlink™ 3G-compliant serial display and parallel display support
* High Speed USB2.0 On-The-Go support

It remains to be seen if Palm will use all of these built-in features. Some seem to be available to the Pre as it is, without requiring any hardware adjustments. The key question is, how much of these can webOS actually use upon release?

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