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Well now, you don't see this every day. Using a combination of information found within public Palm feed API and a basic URL template, it's become possible to get a direct download URL for freeware App Catalog applications!

The format was uncovered by a few people at roughly the same time, with pman_lt being the first to post it on our forums. Basically, using the application number (found within the screenshot URLs), version number and package ID, you can build a .ipk file URL that will work to download all freeware applications.

What does this really mean? Well, in a nutshell, the sometimes arbitrary region restrictions on freeware App Catalogs apps is removed. While I'm sure some US-specific apps might not function fully, the vast majority seem to. And given previous developer reports of the Palm app submission form not recognizing their choice for full international release, this is bound to make many users and developers happy.

Since the URL format's discover a few days ago, things have progressed quickly.  Rod Whitby added it unofficially to their Packages files for their App Catalog feeds. Now, you can go to the Ipkg Viewer in WebOS Quick Install and add the custom feed of http://ipkg.preware.org/feeds/palm-catalog/Packages and you'll have unrestricted App Catalog freeware downloads. Update: it will list the apps, but not allow download. WebOS Internals let us know that they're not adding any functionality to Preware to enable this well-known technique until they hear from Palm on the issue - more here.

In addition, the amazing developer Blacklight, from the Nexave forums, has developed a cross-platform desktop application called IPK Fetcher. It lets you view freeware App Catalog apps and gives clickable IPK download links, installable by WebOS Quick Install.

It remains to be seen whether this workaround will stick around - Palm may change their url structure to stop it. To our mind, though, most of the region-restricted freeware shouldn't be. With some apps (like music software that has to be region-restricted), it makes sense. However, for the vast majority of freeware, it's tough to see a good reason for the app to be limited to just the US.

Just keep in mind this direct download URL format is extremely unofficial and may break at anytime.

Thanks to Clemens for the IPKFetcher tip