Reminiscing over WebOS

April 29, 2012

In my previous posting I stated that I charged up my old Palm Pixi WebOS smartphone to use as a Sprint RF signal tester. First of all, I immediately noticed how small the screen is on my Pixi versus my current Nexus S 4G. Secondly, I started playing around with the WebOS system again and ran the calendar and email app and I forgot how good that OS was. If you introduced it today, running on better hardware I think it would be a big success.

After using the Apple iOS and Android OS, I still think WebOS is superior. Apps popup up as animated cards which you can minimize and shuffle around, and flick off the screen. It has true multitasking, while with iOS and Android apps are suspended or stopped if they are in the background. Everything on the screen looked fresh and clean. It’s really a shame that Palm couldn’t continue with their phone line and was instead bought by HP and completely abandoned. Sure, WebOS lives on in Open Source land, but that really isn’t the same as a fully promoted smartphone operating system.

I think that OS failed because Palm didn’t have appealing hardware, and they took too long to come out with these new phones. If they had better phones and produced them quicker, things may be different now.

Those were the days…

Pondering switching cell phone carriers

April 29, 2012

Up until 10 months ago, I’ve never owned a personal cell phone. I did have a phone, but it was a company phone which I used for both business and personal use. I started with a LG candy bar phone back in 2000 on Sprint, migrated to a popular Nokia phone, then a few Motorola phones, then over to my first smartphone, the Motorola Q running Windows Mobile 5 OS. At that point, my employer switched from Sprint to Verizon, and I finally got an iPhone 4 to use for about 6 months before I left that job for new one. My current position with my new employer doesn’t provide a cell phone, so I needed to venture out in cell phone land and make some decisions on which phone and carrier I should choose for my first personal cell phone purchase.

Since my wife had been using Sprint for the last 10 years or so, it made sense for me to just add a 2nd line to her account and get a shared minutes family plan, especially since Sprint offers offers unlimited data on smartphones. So I made my first cell phone purchase to be a Palm Pixi WebOS phone (mainly because I had planned to do some WebOS app development on the side). That worked out great, and I loved the cool animated windows popping up, and swiping them off the screen when done. I stuck with the Pixi for almost 2 years, and when Palm started to falter as a company I decided to switch to an Android smartphone (again, so I can do some Android app development) and I chose the best at the time which was the Nexus S 4G. Read the rest of this entry »

Is WebOS officially Dead?

December 4, 2011

HP certainly did their best to abandon the Palm WebOS devices, and it seems the OS is going also. If you check out the HP-Palm web site, you’ll see just a splash screen of WebOS running on a Palm Tablet (now, discontinued). The new CEO of HP is supposedly to announce the direction of future WebOS development within the next two weeks, which would affect 600 people currently working at HP-Palm. With no new hardware being sold or developed, it seems the writing is on the wall. In my opinion, WebOS is an elegant mobile operating system, but it seems that no one wants it. As a developer, I found writing WebOS apps using Javascript under the “Mojo” system very easy to do, but the new “Enyo” system that was implemented in the WebOS 3.0 version was a bit too awkward for my tastes. Sure, there still are a very few hardcore WebOS developers still developing apps, but for the most part developers have moved on to the other mobile platforms (e.g., iOS, Android, and Windows Phone 7).

As time goes on, I think the stagnant WebOS will become more and more behind the times and will never catch up to the other mobile OSes. That is quite a shame, as I’ve always like Palm as a company and wished they could have continued on (outside of HP) with their hardware and OS development work.

The death of Palm WebOS

August 21, 2011

Last week, HP announced that they were discontinuing the sale and development of HP/Palm WebOS devices. This includes both WebOS smartphones (Pre, Pre2, Pre3, Pixi) as well as the recently released Touchpad). The timing of this announcement was absolutely shocking, as even the direct Palm employees and management in the Sunnyvale, CA office didn’t see this coming. Aside from this, HP also is dumping their PC division which is also a shocker.

As a WebOS apps developer, I’m very sad to see this happen. I’ve been to two Palm Developers Day events in the Sunnyvale office, and I have to say that the Palm employees are great to work with. Palm really treated their developers well with support and hardware, so it’s a shame to see all of that disappear. HP is backpedaling a bit now, saying that WebOS will live on, but I highly doubt that. With no existing hardware, app developers jumping ship to Android, iOS, or Windows Phone 7 development, and Palm employees leaving for greener pastures, how will WebOS survive? It might go into hibernation, but over time that will most likely make it an extinct product.

This is unfortunate, as I believe that WebOS is the best smartphone OS currently available. It does do true multitasking, and their card concept works very well. Personally, I stopped my WebOS App development when Palm switched to the new Enyo SDK which required a fundamental shift in programming methodology from the previous Mojo SDK. In hindsight, it was a good move as it gave me time to spin up on Android OS development and get a head start in porting some of my existing apps to the Android platform.

Sorry to see you go, WebOS. RIP.

Syncing Apple iCal with Google Calendar

June 24, 2011

Now that I’m back to using my Palm Pixi smartphone, I’ve got to re-evaluate my personal and work calendar syncing options. I’ve got my Apple iMac (running the iCal app), my Palm PIxi smartphone, and two different calendars to sync (along with my contacts). So, what’s the best solution?

After exploring several different options, it seems my best solution is  product called SpanningSync for the Mac. This app runs in the background on my iMac system and periodically syncs my personal and work calendars in the Apple iCal app with two different calendars in Google Calendar in the cloud, of which my Palm Pixi has the ability to sync with. What’s nice about SpanningSync is that I can control which specific calendar in Apple iCal will sync with which specific Google calendar. I’ve setup 2-way syncing, so wherever I make an addition, deletion, or change all the calendars are updated. SpanningSync also will sync my contacts between Apple Address Book and Google Contacts, and subsequently the contacts on my Palm Pixi.

This system works surprising well. I’m currently running the 15-day trial version, but if all continues to go well I’ll pay for the $25/year subscription.

iPhone no more!

June 24, 2011

I recently resigned with the company I was working for and had to return my company-owned iPhone 4. So, I’m now back to using my old Palm Pixi (WebOS) smartphone on the Sprint network.  After using the iPhone 4 for the last several months, I’ve really grown accustom to the great apps (a lot of them missing from the Palm Pixi). In addition, I really loved the virtual keyboard of the iPhone 4, especially the auto text correction. My Pixi has the physical keyboard, and it’s a pain to click away on those bubble keys compared to the iPhone.

Sure, I could always run out and buy my own iPhone 4, but I won’t for these reasons:

  1. The iPhone has some great apps, but the phone itself isn’t the greatest. On the Verizon network I often dropped calls for absolutely no reason.
  2. The Verizon Navigator app wasn’t very good compared to the Sprint Navigator on my Palm Pixi. The Verizon app would often take me to the wrong location or would simply give up on an address and close down.
  3. Although the iPhone 4 had great battery life, it is pretty heavy and somewhat fragile with glass on the top and bottom surfaces.
  4. Verizon has expensive cell and data plans compared to Sprint.

As such, I’ve decided to possibly get an Android phone on the Sprint network. Sprint has better voice/data plans and their service seems to work better in my area. The two current candidates for phones are the Samsung Nexus S and the Samsung Galaxy S II. The Nexus S seems to be a really fast phone but there are lots of reports of weak and bad radios for phone reception. Unless this can be fixed soon (either via hardware or software), I’m afraid I’ll need to exclude the Nexus S from my consideration list.

That leaves the Galaxy S II ( named “Within” for Sprint) which is rumored to be released sometime at the end of July. The specs on the GS II look great, so I’ll have to hold out with my Palm Pixi until later next month and read the reviews on the Sprint version of the GS II. Hopefully it will be good, and I can replace my aged Palm Pixi with a faster, more modern Android smartphone.

Calendar mayhem!

April 17, 2011

I have trouble remembering appointments, family events, birthdays, etc. so I rely heavily on a calendar to keep my life in order. This is true for both my personal and business life, so like to keep two separate calendars to keep things compartmentalized. The issue I’ve been struggling with is finding the most efficient way of dealing with these two calendars and keeping them synced with my computers and mobile devices.

So here’s what I have available:

  1. Personal calendar for my personal appointments and events
  2. Business calendar for my work appointments, travel dates, etc.
  3. An iMac at home running Snow Leopard Mac X OS
  4. A Dell laptop running Windows 7 for work
  5. An Apple iPhone 4 as my smartphone
  6. Microsoft Exchange Server for my work email, calendar, and contacts
  7. Apple MobileMe for Calendar, Email, and Contacts
  8. Google Calendar and Contacts
My goal, is to be able to view and edit my calendar appointments (personal and business) on my iMac desktop computer, Dell laptop, and iPhone device. I know there’s all kinds of 3rd-party freeware and commercial software for syncing calendar data between applications and the cloud, but I wanted to minimize that as much as possible to eliminate any chances of “foul ups”.
I ended up using this solution: Create two calendars with my MobileMe account that allows me to create,view, and edit appointments. If you’re unfamiliar with MobileMe, it is Apple’s cloud-based system which allows for centralized email, calendar, contacts, and offline disk storage. Using this method, I can always access my calendars via a web browser with an Internet connection. Because the majority of my devices are Apple-based, it made sense using this method for syncing purposes. So, I now use the Apple iCal application to access both MobileMe calendars on my iMac desktop computer, and the built-in Calendar app on my iPhone for doing the same. For my Dell laptop (running Windows 7), I use the Microsoft Outlook application along with a MobileMe syncing utility (provided by Apple) to sync my two MobileMe calendars with Outlook for local access. This method seems to work well so far, but I need to always make sure I’m viewing the two MobileMe calendars in all my apps and not the default local calendars (which should be empty).
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