By Jen Edwards
Things certainly are starting to buzz in the Palm OS community. The excitement in the air was almost palpable at the PalmSource Open House, which was both a showcase of some of the platform's leading developers and a really great party. We've been hearing a lot about Palm OS 5 lately, with rumors of new devices and other information leaking out almost daily. And while we didn't see anything like one of those rumored new devices at the Open House, there were still a few surprises.
But let's start at the beginning-the press briefing held before the Open House event was quite informative. The PalmSource User Council was announced, along with Samsung's renewal of their Palm OS license agreement and news of a partnership between PalmSource and Good Technology. The mayor of Sunnyvale even showed up, Palm i705 in hand. It turns out that he was there to participate in the ribbon cutting ceremony just after the press briefing, officially unveiling the new PalmSource corporate headquarters.
After that it was time for the real party at the Open House. There were so many developers there that it was actually tough to navigate around all of the tables. Fortunately, California weather allowed many of the developers to set up outside. And while there weren't any OS 5 devices on display, I was struck by how many of the developers had chosen Sony Clie NR70s to showcase their software applications. I don't think I saw any other kind of handheld at the event. Perhaps that's to be expected, considering that the NR70 is the fastest Palm OS device to date. Or perhaps it's just a sign of the times-many users seem to agree that Sony is doing a great job in bringing innovative new hardware technology to the Palm OS platform.
While there isn't enough space here to highlight every single developer's offerings, it's possible to hit some of the highlights. One of those is from Llamagraphics, the developer of LifeBalance (at http://www.llamagraphics.com). The long-awaited Windows desktop version of LifeBalance is now in final beta and should be launched sometime in October. I didn't have a lot of time to look at it, but from what I saw, it will indeed be just like using LifeBalance on the handheld, though of course with a much bigger screen and a keyboard. The Mac desktop version is already available.
I also got to see some of the latest accessories from Sony, including the game controller and their pocket keyboard. Honestly, playing Astraware's Zap!2016 (at http://www.astraware.com/palm/zap2000/) has never been so much fun! Other news includes the announcement that TealMaster, from TealPoint Software (at http://www.tealpoint.com/softmstr.htm), is indeed compatible with OS 5. While not every single hack will work in the new compatibility mode, most of them should, and that's great news for handheld users who like to "soup up" their systems to the max.