Palm & WebOS 1.4 – We’re Getting There

Late last week Palm pushed out an upgrade to its WebOS operating system for the Palm Pre and Pixi phones, taking them to version 1.4.  In the past few weeks, Palm has taken a fair amount of flak, primarily from analysts but also from users.  Its performance in Europe hasn’t exactly been stellar though it seems to have done well enough in Germany and even the US numbers weren’t as good as expected. 

However, with WebOS 1.4 I feel the phone and the platform is really getting somewhere and Palm is starting to get it right.

First of all 1.4 was pretty much released simultaneously to all phone users.  Previously, there were weeks between the CDMA version coming out and then the GSM version being released.  As a GSM owner, nothing irked more than a new version coming out on CDMA and everyone talking about features you couldn’t yet have.

Secondly, not only are bugs being fixed, but new features are being added.  For example, in addition to video recording, there is now video editing on the phone.  Brilliant for taking videos of the kids,  removing the rubbish parts and forwarding to the grandparents.  I played around with the video recording over the weekend and it’s surprisingly good.

Thirdly, the WebOS is ready for Flash, which is coming Real Soon Now via a download from the AppCatalog.   And by the way, the browser scores 92/100 on the Acid 3 test.

Fourth, the AppCatalog is filling up nicely (albeit there still aren’t paid apps in Europe yet either.  That’s coming RSN too.)  I’ve got to the point where I’m only waiting on two apps to be released before I can leave the legacy PalmOS apps behind and one of these is already available in the US.  The other – DataViz’s Documents To Go – is hotly anticipated by many Pre and Pixi owners.

Fifth, Palm Synergy might be Palm’s unique selling point tying on-line calendars, contacts and email back to the phone and merging them seamlessly, but it’s also encouraged others to think similarly.  For example, RSS readers that sync with Google Reader (Feeds Free), finance apps that link with an online version (ClearCheckBook), info organisation (Evernote),  task tracking (Outline Tracker) and so on.  I love being able to do stuff when I’m out and about on my phone and then have access to exactly the same information when I sit down at my desk.

Finally, multitasking.  WebOS has always had this but the ability to have more than one app open at a time is the only way to go.  Right now, I have Tasks, Feeds Free (an RSS reader), Tweed (a Twitter client),  DrPodder (a podcatcher), Email, Videos and Outline Tracker, all open at once.

For awhile there, I was really kind of “take-it-or-leave-it” about Palm and WebOS.  I’d felt a little let down that the features and programs I’d been used to on my Treo 680 just weren’t there.  With the release of 1.4, I’m feeling better about the Pre and what it can do for me.  We’re getting there.