Palm Pre Eyes-On, Plus Plenty of Pre Questions Answered
Just got back from my meeting with Palm (actually it was some time ago, but sketchy internet reigns supreme here at MWC09). The above would be the highlight of the trip: a real live working Pre in GSM flavor. That's right folks, it's a GSM Pre. It was live on Vodafone's network and running the same version of webOS we saw at CES, but that's about all the information I could glean about the GSM side of things. An updated OS is currently undergoing testing at Sprint and presumably will hit the GSM version too. As for what carriers the GSM Pre will land on, when, and if there will be an unlocked version, Palm was staying mum.
Fret not, though, gentle reader. I had a smorgasbord of Pre and webOS questions to ask and actually managed to get answers to most of them. Read on for all the nitty gritty on Synergy, developer support, and plenty more photos. Oh, and get this, there are actually photos of a real, honest-to-god telephone call. Using a smartphone to make a call -- imagine that!
The big news of the day today has to be on the development side, with Palm announcing both a partnership with Adobe for Flash on the Pre and the O'Reilly book starting to trickle out, chapter by chapter. I haven't had a chance to read said book (naturally), but Palm tells me that the first chapter is full of hints about how exactly device memory works and whatnot.
The question of the day, though is just how much the MojoSDK will allow developers to accomplish. Sure, it's locally-stored web widgets and sure, you can do quite a bit with them (just look at Palm's own apps as examples of that). But what about games? What about deeper access to the Bluetooth stack so that developers can get things like Bluetooth keyboards working? All in good time is the word. None of that extra special access will be made available when the SDK is launched in its initial form, but Palm expects to have it later. So no Bluetooth keyboards at launch, but we're holding out for them later.
As for when that SDK will actually get released in full, Palm is hedging a bit on their initial estimate that it would be available at the same time that the Pre launches. They're expecting it to "lag a bit" after the launch, which is a good news/bad news sort of thing. Good news that Palm is pressing hard to launch the Pre as soon as possible, bad news that the SDK won't be available on launch day.
Back to the Adobe/Palm partnership. Although we're currently looking at "end of the year" for flash support on the Pre, it turns out that's actually the target date that Adobe and Palm have set for Adobe to finish up their flash support and deliver it to Palm. Adobe delivering it to Palm and Palm delivering it to customers are, sadly, two completely separate things. We suppose it will make a very good test case for Palm's promised over-the-air ROM updates. If they can get the added functionality finished, baked into ROM, approved by carriers, and pushed out in short order, we'll have the final proof that we're looking at a brand new kind of Palm.
One last thing: Palm is well aware of preDevCamp and is absolutely smitten with the idea of people getting excited about the Pre They're offering as much support to the project as they can, though no official ties are to be found.
Lastly (well, actually we started the conversation with this, but who's counting?) we talked a bit about Synergy. Specifically, we wanted to know what services would be supported at launch. Here's the short list:
There will likely be a few more, but it's important to note that Hotmail/Live Mail and Yahoo are NOT supported by Synergy, at least at launch. Palm said that the APIs for accessing these services are still up in the air and frankly, we have to cut them some slack there because when it comes to IMAP support, Hotmail is definitely still stuck in 1997. You can get to Hotmail and Yahoo Mail via POP3.
Next I wanted to know what pushed and what didn't and for the stuff that didn't how often information was updated. The reps I spoke with (all 5 of them, I asked around) honestly didn't know how often Synergy made sure your stuff was up to date with non-push systems. Most of them said that it never really affected them in day-to-day usage.
One thing that did stand out, though, is when I asked about Gmail Push. The rep said "Gmail pushes, doesn't it?" Wha wha WHAT!? After my incredulous response, the reps I spoke with backtracked a little and said that maybe it didn't but they were pretty sure it did, we'll get back to you, and all that. However it does seem to be the case that if you're working with an IMAP server, email does seem to push. We haven't gotten a clear answer on this, but provisionally it's looking like the Pre and webOS will support IMAP IDLE.
Making a call
Yes, we witnessed the Palm Pre both make and receive a call. Yes, it worked fine. No, we weren't able to extensively test it, but you can see below for in-call screens and the like. One nice thing, a call coming in looks like any other "big alert," meaning you get your caller ID photo popping up from the bottom, but it doesn't interfere with whatever you're working on. Nice.
Documents, Attachments, and Errata
Although we know that DataViz is a launch partner with Palm, we don't know yet whether or not Docs To Go document editing will be available at launch (trust us, we'll ask DataViz first chance we get). In the meantime, Palm intends on making sure that there's full-featured document viewing available and, if you didn't know, image viewing already works great and works inline with email.
One sour note -- no support for zip archives at launch. Durn.
We also had a few people ask about WiFi, specifically whether or not University-style PEAP authentication would be supported. The Palm rep we spoke with wasn't sure, but we convinced them to give us a peep into the WiFi preferences, which revealed support for "WEP, WPA, and Enterprise." Guess we'll have to wait and see just what's inside that "Enterprise" section.
One last thing before we get to the galleries. The calendar really is stupendous and offers full support for recurring and non-standard scheduling of appointments. Wahoo!
Ok, really, one last thing: there. is. no. alarm. app. Palm said that people are very picky when it comes to alarms (that's true), so they figure it's an excellent opportunity for 3rd party developers.
On to the gallery!