June 6th next Saturday will be the launch day of the Palm Pre and to some it may seem a very odd day to launch a new product, but both Sprint and Palm already expect long lines of people wanting to buy the phone with many camping out for one, me I will be on vacation, but may check the local Sprint store there. Palm and Sprint have already said they anticipate they won’t have enough Palm Pre’s to meet the anticipated high demand, that is a good and bad thing. Good in that there is a demand, bad in that some people won’t purchase it, even at a later date or may even wait for another rumored carrier to pick it up. Still all the capabilities of the device aren’t fully known, but some reviews have surfaced like the one at BGR. Palm and Sprint have been working hard to market this product and have some interesting websites and widgets at their This is Now Website.
What we know so far:
“The Palm Pre takes full advantage of Sprint’s Everything Data plans,” said Avi Greengart, research director for Consumer Devices at Current Analysis. “The Pre has been expressly designed for multitasking among multiple web pages and applications. It also builds on Palm’s heritage in PDAs by managing your digital information – whether that’s on a corporate server or on the web.” Still no mention about tethering the Pre to a laptop.
- Linked contacts – With Synergy, you have a single view that links your contacts from a variety of sources, so accessing them is easier than ever. For example, if you have the same contact listed in your Outlook, Google and Facebook accounts, Synergy recognizes that they’re the same person and links the information, presenting it to you as one listing.
- Layered calendars – Your calendars can be seen on their own or layered together in a single view, combining work, family, friends, sports teams, or other interests. You can toggle to look at one calendar at a time, or see them all at a glance.
- Combined messaging – Synergy lets you see all your conversations with the same person in a chat-style view, even if it started in IM and you want to reply with text messaging. You can also see who’s active in a buddy list right from contacts or e-mail, and start a new conversation with just one touch.
This week at The Wall Street Journal's D: All Things Digital conference, Palm, Inc. introduced attendees to the latest features of the Palm webOS platform, including Palm media sync, the integration of Twitter in universal search, and a beta version of its App Catalog. Jon Rubinstein, Palm executive chairman, and Roger McNamee, Palm director and co-founder of Elevation Partners, debuted the new webOS features and mentioned some more information like:
- ActiveSync – remote wipe and address lookup – (I am assuming access to the GAL and some server search too?)
- GSM – in a few months so will it be on the rumored AT&T, who wants the Pre pretty badly as well as Verizon, but Bell Mobility in Canada is getting it too.
- OTA Updates – push updates like Android every other phone should do this too (hint,hint)
- 12 Apps at Launch – Pandora, Fandango, Citysearch, Linked In,(more on this below)
Palm Media Sync
Palm media sync is a feature of webOS that synchronizes seamlessly with iTunes, giving you a simple and easy way to transfer DRM-free music, photos and videos to your Palm Pre. Simply connect Pre to your PC or Mac via the USB cable, select "media sync" on the phone, and iTunes will launch on your computer desktop. You can then choose which DRM-free media files to transfer.
"We designed Palm media sync to be an easy and elegant way for you to take the content you own and put it on Pre, and it's just one of the ways we think you'll be amazed by webOS," said Rubinstein. "We've had an overwhelming response since we introduced Pre at CES, and with availability just days away, we can't wait to let everyone see firsthand what the excitement is all about."
Pre also acts as a mass storage drive, letting you side-load your media content. Once connected to a computer using the USB cable, Pre will appear as a drive on the computer desktop. You can drag and drop music, photos or video files onto your Pre, or drag files from your Pre to the computer. And, just like a digital camera, Pre works directly with your computer's default desktop photo software to seamlessly import photos captured with Pre's built-in 3-megapixel camera.
In addition to listening to music transferred from your desktop, you can use the on-device Amazon MP3 store to purchase individual songs or full albums over-the-air. You can search by artist, song and genre, and preview and purchase music files. You can then download purchased tracks when you're connected to a Wi-Fi network.
Twitter in Universal Search
Palm also announced that Twitter search is integrated into webOS universal search.(3) Universal search is about finding what you want quickly, whether it's an on-device contact to call, a place you're trying to get to, or a Wikipedia article for encyclopedic information. Just start typing and Pre will figure out if you're looking for a contact, an application, or even let you search the web via Google, Google Maps, Wikipedia and now Twitter. Universal search uses Twitter's search service to sort through real-time current events and news, so universal search now covers every aspect of search on the web: general info, location, encyclopedia, and news.
Twitter's ability to show what's going on right now is a perfect fit for what universal search and Pre are all about. You don't have to be a Twitter user to benefit from Twitter in universal search. It's available for all users, even if they don't have an account, so anyone can keep on top of real-time news and the latest trends.
Rubinstein and McNamee also gave conference attendees an advance look at the beta version of the App Catalog, which will be available on Pre at launch. The beta version will feature applications from developers such as AP News, Citysearch, Fandango, Pandora and uLocate.
"We've received excellent feedback from participants in the Mojo SDK early access program and look forward to the SDK's public release. Developers are very enthusiastic about the platform's ease of use and industry-standard development model," said Rubinstein. "We're excited to launch Pre with the beta version of the catalog, which will give a taste of how the overall webOS ecosystem will work."
The App Catalog was demonstrated at the conference using Fandango's webOS application, which takes advantage of Palm Synergy(TM), a key feature of webOS. It also uses Pre's location-based services to find theaters near you, and lets you watch trailers, buy tickets, add showtimes to your calendar and get directions to the theatre.(1) Also included in the beta App Catalog will be Pandora, which makes use of the platform's multitasking capabilities, running elegantly in the background while you're using other applications. It highlights a unique aspect of the notification bar that lets you know what song is currently playing, and control pause and play without having to go back into the application.
The Palm Pre phone will be available from Sprint on June 6 for $199.99 with a two-year service agreement and $100 mail-in rebate. More information is available at www.sprint.com/palmpre and www.palm.com. Also be sure to tune into the official Palm Blog and Twitter feed.
Either way the Palm Pre will be a changer in the Mobile handset space and from what we saw at CES 2009 the Pre has a lot of potential and Palm and its investors are betting that it will live up to the hype.