updated 04:35 pm EDT, Thu April 2, 2009
First Look at WebOS Apps
With news of Palm's expanded app support for webOS, the company has today been giving demos of multiple native apps, including those above and beyond what was mentioned Wednesday evening. The most immediately useful app is FlightView, a Palm-native version of the company's online efforts. In practice, the software is similar to iPhone apps like FlightTrack and lets users check flight schedules online, including the current position of the plane on a map; the interface is as intuitive as its equivalent for Apple's hardware, but the addition of a hardware keyboard to type flight info frees more of the screen for flight data. It also has basic background notifications for flight status.
We also had the opportunity to look at a Sprint TV app that will come bundled with the carrier's version of the Pre. The software will seem somewhat familiar to those used to Sprint's simpler app for its feature phones but, expectedly, has a much more intuitive multi-touch interface for picking videos. The larger screen is much more suited to video than most Sprint phones and, even with live streams, has surprisingly good video quality. Effectively, Sprint TV gives the Pre a more commercialized equivalent to the dedicated video clients on other phones, such as the YouTube clients on the iPhone or HTC's newer Touch line. By contrast, Apple has allowed streaming video apps on its devices but has generally declined carrier-specific video outside of Orange's TV app in France.
Lastly, we've had an opportunity to see MotionApps' Classic application running, and the software largely works as expected; PalmOS appears to work at native speed and has a set of fairly intuitive, simulated hardware controls. While it's been made clear that not all apps will be supported, it's clear that the software already works natively with ePocrates' self-titled medical app and slightly more visually intensive apps like Bejeweled. It again provides a number of advantages over iPhone apps by both supporting the addition of running programs within its own shell -- a feature off-limits in Apple's iPhone SDK policies -- and of allowing the emulator to run in the background while native apps run side-by-side.
All these as well as the earlier apps should be available through the Palm app catalog when it launches alongside the Pre in late spring.