Palm's webOS lives up to hype, early developers say

Palm’s new operating system is designed with the mobile Web in mind

Leveraging Web development standards

Marthinsen and others see Palm's decision to base webOS on Web standards as a development watershed, because it leverages mature, well-documented, widely used technologies. Agile had little mobile development experience before it started working with webOS. "With Mojo, we were up to speed in weeks," says Marthinsen. "The barriers for entry for developing on Mojo are very low."

Agile was able to quickly build a mobile version of FlightView's real-time airline flight tracking service (you can see a short demo here). The Pre displays a real-time map of the flight, while the application continually monitors the flight in the background, and alerts you to any changes in flight status.

But the application also interacts directly with other parts of the phone. A click will add a flight to your calendar, for example, or launch a phone call to the airline's reservation service. By comparison, says Marthinsen, who uses an iPhone, "the iPhone is known for being fairly closed. With an [iPhone] app, you're very separated from the other applications."

"Palm has all kinds of great APIs to talk with the rest of the Pre architecture, to get location data, for example," says Pandora's Conrad.

(Apple is dramatically expanding the APIs available to iPhone developers, with 1,000 new ones in the 3.0 version of the iPhone OS, due out this summer.)

Palm Synergy is an example of how these elements can come together to create a new user experience. Synergy creates a unified logical view of different data sources and applications, such as contacts or calendar data, drawn from the phone, a corporate Exchange server and various Web accounts such as Google or Facebook.

"What's exciting about Synergy is that today I have to think about where to go to get all these bits of information," Conrad says. "What Palm has done is unified all this from the perspective of the user experience, by understanding there are certain kinds of online systems that share common semantics, which we can merge at the UI layer."

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John Cox

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