Palm opens Pre mobile phone to developers

Palm offers its Mojo SDK program to a broad group of developers in hopes of making its Palm Pre a viable iPhone competitor

Palm is taking what it hopes is the next step in to make its Palm Pre a viable iPhone competitor. On Wednesday, at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, Palm opened up its Mojo Software Development Kit (SDK) program to a "broad group of developers."

The Mojo SDK allows developers to make applications for Palm's newest operating system, WebOS, which replaces its once popular Palm OS. The ultimate goal is likely to create a broad selection of applications available for Palm handsets such as the Pre - similar to the thousands of apps available to iPhone users.

[ Check out this hands-on look at the Palm Pre. | Is Palm back in the game with the Palm Pre? | Get the latest on mobile developments with InfoWorld's Mobile Report newsletter. ]

Palm could start distributing the WebOS SDK to developers as early as today, according to reports. Developers can apply to receive the Mojo SDK at the Palm Developer Network Web site.

Key features included in WebOS include simplified multi-tasking; the Mojo Messaging Service, a push notification system; and user-friendly device alerts that Palm says won't distract you from any task your phone is currently performing. WebOS will also feature Synergy, a database that pulls a variety of information streams into one place including Facebook updates, Google services and Microsoft Exchange data. Synergy's functions sound similar to Instant Messaging clients like Digsby, which in addition to IM also pulls social networking updates and web-based email alerts onto your desktop.

If you're finding it hard to let go of the old OS, Palm has a Pre-based solution for you as well. At launch, a Palm OS emulator from MotionApps called Classic will be available for purchase. Palm says it is working hard to make sure that popular Palm OS apps transition to WebOS. In the meantime, Classic will be available to give you peace of mind as you transition to the new operating system. How well Classic will work remains to be seen, but MotionApps says Classic can run apps twice as fast as the Treo 700p. There's no information yet about which of the more than 30,000 Palm OS applications will work with Classic or how much the application will cost.

This is the second release for the Mojo SDK after a smaller "private release" in January. Some applications have already been developed for the Pre including programs from Fandango, Pandora and a flight tracking application.

Palm is pinning its hopes on the Pre and WebOS as it tries to bounce back from lagging sales. A phased SDK release seems to be a very Apple-like move and a way to build anticipation for the launch of the actual device. Taking another page from Apple, Palm is being very opaque about when exactly the Pre will launch. For now, the date still stands as the first half of 2009.

This story, "Palm opens Pre mobile phone to developers" was originally published by PCWorld.

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