Getting a Palm Pixi Smartphone Tomorrow

November 14, 2009

pixiSprint will be selling the Palm Pixi Smartphone running WebOS (same operating system as the Palm Pre) tomorrow, and I’ve decided to get it. Although I’ve been developing applications for the Palm Pre for the last few months, I’ve held off getting an actual Palm Pre phone because I was waiting for Palm to firm up their Palm Catalog program. In addition, I wasn’t so crazy about slider phones, so I was waiting to see what the 2nd WebOS phone would be like, and non-slider candy-bar phone is what appeared in the Palm Pixi.

The Pixi has a less powerful CPU, no WiFi, lower resolution camera, and smaller screen when compared to the Pre, but even so I like it better because it is one solid unit (no slider keyboard), the keys on the keyboard are raised and easier to type on, and it’s very, very thin. I’ve never had a WiFi phone before therefore I probably wouldn’t notice it not being present in the Pixi.

I just figured that I’ve gone on long enough without a physical phone to test my WebOS apps on, so now is the time to get one. As such, I’ll probably start posting more on the Palm Pixi and the WebOS, so stay tuned!


Evernote : My new information manager

November 1, 2009

evernoteI love using the Google search engine (who doesn’t?). I can very easily and quickly search for anything on the Internet using any web browser, and find the information that I’m looking for in a snap. Often, I’ve wanted to have a Google-like search engine just for my personal information which can be accessed on my PC or on the web. It turns out I may have found my answer with a product called Evernote.

Evernote is a cool product that can store various bits of information in a central database system “in-the-cloud” (Internet), on your PC, or on your smartphone. You can create multiple “notebooks” and store “notes” in each of them. Notes can consist of plain or formatted text, web page content, pictures, and audio. The single most useful feature I’ve seen, is the ability to easily grab content from a web page and save it to Evernote. A perfect example is when I come across a web site and I want to look into it further at a later date, I can easily save the full web page (or a portion of it) to a note in Evernote. In fact, there’s a FireFox browser plugin that easily does this for you.

All data stored in Evernote can be searched using a text string, just like with the Google search engine. In fact, if you store images in a note that contains text (say, when you snap a picture with your phone of product description at the store), Evernote can recognize the words in the image for the search! Speaking of snapshots, the Evernote app that runs on your smartphone (iPhone,Blackberry,Windows Mobile, or Palm Pre) interfaces with the Evernote database very nicely, and you can use the camera on your phone to easily snap a picture and store it in Evernote as a note. The Evernote site suggests using your phone’s camera for taking snapshots of business cards, airline tickets, travel receipts, etc. which is a great idea if your phone has a good camera (unfortunately, the camera on my Moto-Q phone is crappy). Read the rest of this entry »


I Love WebOS Programming!

October 4, 2009

webosFor the last 8 or so years, I’ve been writing apps for the Microsoft Pocket PC (and subsequently the Microsoft Windows Mobile OS) devices. In the early days, I was making some substantial income selling these apps on the Internet, however, my software sales have gone down every passing year to where I’m making just enough to cover my minimal operating expenses. I don’t think you can even buy a new Pocket PC PDA these days, as most people favor using their smartphones with the same integrated features. So in my opinion, the Windows Mobile OS is a dying platform for application developers.

The popularity of the Apple iPhone has created an entirely new arena for application developers. The iPhone’s best feature is its applications, and owners are definitely buying these apps in large volumes. As such, I looked into the possibility of switching my development efforts from the WM OS to the iPhone. To do so, I would have to purchase an Apple Mac computer as well as an iPhone with AT&T service for testing. I would also need to learn Apple’s Objective-C programming language and the entire process for writing an iPhone app. This would require lots and lots of time and money on my part, something I didn’t want to invest at this time.

When the Google Android phone appeared on the market (through T-Mobile), I investigated programming for that platform since it was based on Java programming. Google provided a Windows-based emulator that seemed to work quite well, so I wouldn’t need to buy a new T-Mobile phone immediately for development and testing. As I began my research and investigating, I realized that programming for the Google phone was just too difficult. Google’s documentation was too sparse, and it required developers to dig around and experiment to figure out how to use advanced feature calls. I tried for a month to learn and develop some Google Android apps, but ultimately gave up because the learning curve was way too steep. In hindsight, I think the decision to not develop for the Android phone was a good one, since I don’t see these phones selling like the Apple iPhones.

A few months ago Palm reinvented themselves by releasing the Palm Pre phone which runs the new WebOS operating system. It is very much like the iPhone and Android phones, but all of its applications are based on javascript and web-page programming. So the Palm Pre basically acts as a small web server, displaying web pages and using javascript for function calls very much like a standard web page on the Internet. Since I am a web site developer (on the side), creating applications for the Palm Pre didn’t require a lot of education (as with the iPhone and Android OS).

I’ve been working with the WebOS for the last few months and I really love it (having a good Windows-based emulator is really helpful). I can very quickly create useful and nice looking apps, and I don’t have to drop down to the low-level C progamming language to do so. I just finished writing a electronic wallet app for the WebOS and I’m now writing a companion application for my Desktop Vista PC, and I’m just dreading it. After writing for the WebOS, having to go back to Microsoft Windows C-programming just seems archaic! Lots of mind numbing coding, abstract system function calls, etc. I feel like I’m back to the dark ages again. I know I can use some higher level programming languages for Windows (like .NET) but I don’t want to invest a lot of time learning those languages.

So, I’m planning to stop all Windows Mobile OS application development in favor of the Palm WebOS platform. It’s fresh new ground, and I’m hoping to duplicate the initial success I had with the Pocket PC platform with the WebOS. I’m also looking at getting a Palm Pre Pixi phone with Sprint Service when it comes out next month, so I’ve definitely decided to invest my time and money on this platform. Good luck to Palm and their reentry into the smartphone market!


Windows Mobile OS — On Its Last Breath?

August 30, 2009

ripArguable, the Apple iPhone is one of the most successful smartphones on the market. Its slick, flashy user interface and tie to the Internet for data retrieval are its most attractive features. Its only downfall is the exclusivity on the slow and spotty AT&T Network.

Other phone developers and cell phone carriers are following suit, creating smartphones that run a similar iPhone operating system (e.g., Google’s Android OS and Palm’s WebOS). Touch screen, finger flicking, swiping, and pinching, full web browser, etc. are all typical features that users expect from these high-end smartphones.

Microsoft’s Windows Mobile OS has been around for quite a while, and compared to the iPhone, Android, and WebOS devices seems archaic. It is very apparent that the Windows Mobile OS is based on the Microsoft Windows Operating system with its popup menus and standard dialogbox screens. I’ve been using a Motorola Q phone (with Windows Mobile 5 OS) for a few years now, and it routinely hangs when I try to access an application, screens don’t display properly, and I’m forced to pull the battery out and restart quite often. Definitely not as slick or user-friendly as the more modern touch screen OSes. Read the rest of this entry »


Palm Pre WebOS Development Has Gone Public!

July 16, 2009

palm_preFor the last several months, only a select group of developers were allowed access to the Palm Pre SDK (early access program for developers). All that were accepted in the program had to sign non-disclosure agreements to keep what they were seeing in the beta SDK confidential. Fortunately, I was one of the select few who were accepted into the program about a month ago, so I have had some time working with their SDK. As of this morning, Palm has officially released the SDK to all developers publically, so anyone who wants to create Palm Pre apps can now do so.

Here’s a few comments I have regarding the Palm Pre SDK:

First, Palm was stating that a person with HTML, CSS, and Javascript experience could develop Palm Pre apps. The idea was that a person with web site developing skills could easily create Palm Pre apps. Being a person who has created web sites using HTML, CSS, and some Javascript, I thought I would fit into this category, however, that was not the case. I discovered that creating basic apps that mimic web-page operation is doable, but you do need extensive knowledge of the Javascript Document Object Model (DOM) to effectively use the Palm Pre’s widgets (buttons, lists, selectors, sliders, etc). If you don’t know DOM very well, then you’re in for an uphill battle (as with my case). So for those new Palm Pre owners who are expecting to create these wonderful games and apps using the Palm Pre SDK with just basic web site development knowledge, you’re in for a surprise. Read the rest of this entry »


My Palm Pre Obsession is Now Officially Over!

June 16, 2009

palm_preI’ve been enamored with the new Palm Pre smartphone (released two weeks ago), reading the Palm Pre forums several times a day. But, I’m now over it. After reading so many postings regarding heating problems, cracked screens, MS Exchange Server issues, etc. I’ve decided that the Palm Pre falls in the same corner as the G1 Android phone — a device that just isn’t ready for prime time. Of course, you have the fanboys who will defend the phone completely regardless of its flaws, but it just isn’t ready for the average business user (in my opinion).

Now, I haven’t written off the Palm Pre entirely. I’ll be watching from time to time to see if Palm comes out with some good OS updates to fix the major issues, and if a newer model of Pre comes out with the heating had hardware issues corrected. If Palm plays it right, they should have a great phone for the users. But if they stumble or fall stagnant, then they just may be finished as a company. Here’s crossing my fingers for success!


Apple iPhone Details Released at WWDC

June 8, 2009

Apple’s big conference was held today and they released lots of information on their new products, including the iPhone 3.0 revision. The “new” iPhone looks basically the same on the outside, but it has an incrementally improved OS, better battery life, more internal storage, and an upgraded camera. Nothing earth shattering, but some good improvements.

I know that a lot of people were waiting for Apple’s announcement before pulling the trigger on getting either the iPhone or Palm Pre phone. In my opinion, both have different strengths and weaknesses. Here’ my short list for a comparison:

Apple iPhone 3GS (new)

Strengths:

  • Very solid version 3.0 OS
  • Over 1 million owners, with 50,000 applications available
  • Works with Microsoft Exchange Activesync Server for business users
  • All of the “1.0 OS” bugs worked out
  • Long battery life
  • Large internal storage
  • Can sync with your desktop computer directly

Weaknesses:

  • The AT&T network is overloaded and slow for unlimited data usage
  • Carrier plan is pricey compared to Sprint’s unlimited plan
  • No multitasking app capability
  • AT&T Network coverage doesn’t appear to be the best

Palm Pre

Strengths:

  • New touch OS
  • Multitasking app capability
  • Sprint network is fast and reliable with good coverage
  • Slide out keyboard for those who don’t like on-screen keyboards
  • Very compact
  • Ability to sync multiple calendars and contacts (via the Internet)

Weaknesses:

  • Very new OS, with numerous bugs and gaps in features
  • Microsoft Exchange Activesync Server has serious limitations, and may not be ready for business users
  • Phone can get very very how when charging and when in use
  • Battery life has been reported to be very bad depending on what options are activated (e.g., Bluetooth, WiFi, Push Email, etc.)
  • Just released– Only 25 apps available on the Palm App Store
  • For Calendar, must use either Google Calendar or Microsoft Exchange Server
  • Everything is synced to the Internet (can’t sync directly to desktop computer)

For me, my smartphone needs to be a good cell phone first, followed by having good email connectivity with Microsoft Exchange and POP3 servers. I also need to have a smartphone that can last me one full day without charging, which I don’t think is too much to ask for. Thus, it’s a tough decision for me to pick an iPhone or a Pre for my personal needs. What I’m planning to do, is go into a holding pattern and wait to see if Palm will fix the deficiencies in the Pre OS such that it works better as a business phone. If that happens over the next few months, then I’ll probably give it a try. But until then, I’ll keep using my old Verizon Motorola Q phone as it seems to do the job (at a minimal level!).