Interviews MotionApps on the Classic app | webOS Nation Interviews MotionApps on the Classic app

by Dieter Bohn Thu, 30 Apr 2009 1:07 pm EDT

We've been all about MotionApps Classic app here at  Whatever fears we may have about the Palm Pre's software catalog at launch are allayed by knowing that a huge part of the PalmOS back catalog will be usable on the Pre inside the Classic app.  You can see a demo of it from CTIA in the above video.

We had a chance to send on some questions to MotionApps CTO Nebojsa Lazic, who was kind enough to answer them for us!  Pay special attention to the the fact that MotionApps is aware that many PalmOS apps need a stylus and the Pre won't work with one - an elegant solution seems to be in the works.  Other features are also on their radar, so read on! (PC): There's been a lot of excitement both around the Classic app as well as the Palm Pre, but both bring up two similar questions: when will it be out and how much? Do you anticipate that Classic will be available at launch? How much will it cost?

Nebojsa Lazic of Motion Apps (MA): As excited as we all are, all we can say at this point is that Classic will be available at the same day Palm Pre is launched.

PC: One of the more great things about the Pre is that there will be an on-device App store. Do you expect to sell Classic via that App Store or will you sell it directly, or both?

MA: We are looking forward to the App Catalog as it will help solve the application discovery issues many users and developers struggled with before. Classic will be available through the App Catalog.

PC: Do you have a list of 'tested apps' that work with Classic? Do you have a list of apps that don't?

MA: There are many apps that we have tested already and vast majority of them works with Classic. We are adding to the list constantly and are planning to announce some of those apps in public in the next week or two. We have said that some features from original PalmOS will not be supported so obviously apps that use them will be limited. For apps whose sole purpose revolves around some of those features it is probably safe to assume that their utility will be in question (for example ringtone manager for phone and SMS). For some other, like for example Contact app - it will not be able to beam contacts via IR but all other features will work.

PC: We've been very impressed with the graphical capabilities of Classic running PalmOS games -- what sort of technical challenges did you have to overcome to reach that level of performance?

MA: We dealt with some very low-level APIs and data structures of PalmOS and webOS. For example, we had to reengineer certain parts of PalmOS and often we felt like we were creating a new OS which is something that you rarely have a chance to do. It was very challenging, but we also had a lot of fun doing the work.

PC: We've heard from Palm that Classic has 'more access' to the underlying webOS than your standard application, which is based solely on web technologies. Can you talk a bit about what standard webOS SDK elements you're using for Classic and perhaps even some of the 'non-standard' stuff you're doing?

MA: We used standard SDK that Palm published few weeks ago, but besides that we also had to use some low-level stuff of webOS.

PC: Can you talk a bit about what it was like to work with Palm on this app?

MA: The experience of working with Palm’s technical team has been excellent indeed and the cooperation during the process has been very good. There are many exceptionally talented developers at Palm, with good ideas and approaches and it was nothing but a pleasure to work with them.

PC: One of the things our readers were hoping for was the ability to run more than one PalmOS app at a time via the webOS cards multitasking system. I understand that's not a feature now, but is it planned for the future?

MA: Right now we are not thinking about it, but as you know, [the] future of a product is largely shaped by the public opinion and feature requests, so everything is possible.

PC: Speaking of future plans, were there any features you hope to add to Classic someday?

MA: As you can see on our blog, one of the most requested features is HotSync, so we are looking into various options for enabling this type of functionality or “syncing” in some other way.

PC: There has been some concern amongst developers that the webOS's structure makes it relatively easy to get the source code for any given app, since they're based on web technologies. While I understand that Classic has more than the 'standard stuff,' was that a concern for you and if so, have you done anything to address it?

MA: Given how Classic is implemented, this was not that big of a concern for us.

PC: Speaking about the Palm Pre as a hardware platform, do you have any thoughts on its capabilities relative to other platforms you've developed for?

MA: We cannot comment on Pre hardware specifics of course, but let’s say it is by far the most powerful hardware we ever had a chance to work with.

PC: Any plans for future apps for the webOS you'd care to discuss?

MA: We do have plans for more apps, but at this point, we would like to stay focused on Classic and make sure we deliver top quality product that will meet all the requirements it needs to meet to become a powerful complement to webOS.

PC: Since the PalmOS is stylus-based on a resistive touchscreen and the Pre uses a capacitive touchscreen, I expect that there are some challenges with apps that have smaller-sized touch target areas. Have you found this to be an issue and if so, have you found any solutions?

MA: Yes, this might be an issue for certain apps, but many of the modern PalmOS apps are already optimized for use with fingers and with 5-way navigation buttons. Also, we believe that PalmOS app developers will optimize their existing apps in this area as webOS phones gain popularity in the market. Finally, we have addressed this question already within Classic itself – the first maintenance release of Classic will include pinch/zoom feature similar to the one in web browser, so users will be able to zoom in certain areas of the screen with simple gestures.

PC:  What excites you most about the webOS and the Palm Pre?

MA: The fact that webOS is a completely new OS, completely different than any other mobile platform. It requires a completely different mindset and opens a new world of opportunities for application developers.

There you have it, folks: The Pre is the most powerful hardware that MotionApps has ever worked on.  Even better, it looks like sometime after launch, they'll implement a zoom feature inside Classic so that those stylus-based apps will be easier to handle!