http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20 ... t-ces.html
Palm also announced a new phone, the Palm prÃƒÂ©, set for launch in the first half of 2009. It features a 3.1-inch multitouch screen with 320x480 resolution over a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, all squeezed into a small, 4.8-oz package.
Here's a quick feature rundown of the prÃƒÂ©s hardware:
* EVDO Rev A. (courtesy of Sprint)
* 802.11 b/g
* Bluetooth (with stereo out support)
* 8GB of storage
* TI OMAP processor
* 3.1-inch multitouch screen with 320x480 resolution
* Sensors: accelerometer, proximity, ambient light
* 3MP camera with LED flash
* Speaker for speakerphone and music
* Replaceable battery
* MicroUSB connector for charging, with USB 2.0 support.
* 3.5mm headphone jack
* Phone works with slide-out QWERTY keyboard either open or closed.
As nice as the prÃƒÂ©'s hardware is, Palm's webOS is where the real action is. As a dedicated iPhone user, I experienced something very strange and quite unexpected while watching Palm demo the new OS: my iPhone suddenly felt old and played out. It's like Palm started with the iPhone, copied all the best ideas, and then made the whole package better.
In the cards
The entire UI is based on a "desktop + cards" paradigm, where "cards" replace "windows" or even "apps." You start with a display area that contains a blank desktop and an iPhone-style dock at the bottom. You can bring up a launcher card that slides up from the bottom of the screen and takes over, and from there you can bring up new cards: a web card containing a web page, a chat card with a conversation in it, an email card with your messages on it, etc. New cards slide up from the bottom, while the current card moves to the side, the result being that you can flip through a stream of cards from side-to-side, much like Apple's Coverflow.
This card paradigm is truly fascinating, and it appears to be a very effective way to do multitasking on a smartphone.
Beneath the display region is a touch-sensitive gesture region, where you can use gestures to control the device without interfering with whatever it is you're doing in the display area. (e.g., you can use a gesture in this area to scroll a web page without accidentally clicking a link, like I sometimes do on my iPhone).
Task-based, not app-based
By ditching the app + window paradigm (which the iPhone still essentially uses) in favor of a card paradigm, Palm was able to invent a truly task-based interface that lets you use the interface to do things, instead of using apps to do things. Let me give an example.
Instead of having multiple communications apps on the phone, any of which you can use to carry on a conversation via multiple services, you just open up a single chat card with that user. That chat card hosts a continuous stream of conversation that combines SMS messages and IM in a single, seamless interface and chat experience. That way, the focus is on the conversation, and not the medium (SMS, Gtalk, iChat, AIM, etc.). It's very nice, in an "I want to be able to do that right now on my iPhone" kind of way.
Palm has saddled this fantastic approach with an overused buzzword-turned-name: synergy. But, in light of how compelling both the idea and the implementation seem to be (at least based on this staged demo), the annoying name is a minor issue.
In addition to focusing on connecting users to their network in a way that hides which network you're using, Palm thought pretty hard about the problem of interruptions via alerts and new messages. The company's solution was to have alerts and messages show up at the bottom of the screen in a narrow area, so that there's no dialog box for a user to dismiss and no reason to stop whatever you're currently working on in order to close the notification or act on it.
I expect to see this method for handling incoming events and alerts gain widespread adoption by smartphone makers.
It runs Linux, and it's totally skinnable
A coup for Sprint, and redemption for Palm
Sprint is the exclusive launch partner for the prÃƒÂ©, playing the AT&T to Palm's Apple. This was a great score for the company, which has reportedly been losing subscribers (myself included) to the iPhone in droves. I personally prefer Sprint's network to AT&T's, and now there's actually a phone on that network that I'd consider using. Palm will eventually make a WCDMA version available, so we should eventually see the prÃƒÂ© on T-Mobile, AT&T, and/or Vodafone (outside of the US).
Look for a ton more coverage of this device at Ars in the coming weeks and months. Palm has completely redeemed themselves from the Foleo fiasco by launching the very first phone that truly builds on what Apple started with the iPhone and takes it to the next level. I'm not necessarily willing to declare that this is an iPhone-killerÃ¢â‚¬â€there's no music store (yet), though prÃƒÂ© does play music and videosÃ¢â‚¬â€but if I had tried to design an iPhone-killer myself and had come up with this, I'd be pretty pleased.
No launch date was given, but Palm expects to the prÃƒÂ© to be available sometime during the first half of 2009.