SANTA CLARA -- Palm last week released a beta version of its Palm OS operating system, in a bid to tightly link Palm OS devices with enterprise nets through wireless connections.
Revealed at its annual PalmSource developer's conference, Palm OS 4.0 will include code to support an array of existing and emerging wide-area wireless nets, enabling all Palm device users, not just users of the wireless Palm VII, to connect to corporate data. The move to bolster wireless connectivity is an attempt to make the Palm device a true extension of the corporate net, with the ability to share data at almost any time with corporate servers.
The beta version release of Palm OS 4.0 includes code that will support an array of existing wide-area wireless nets, such as Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), Cellular Digital Packet Data (CDPD) and global system for mobile communications (GSM). Previously, developers had to work with third-party code or write additional software because the operating system did not include support for wireless communications.
For wireless connections, most Palm users now require a wireless modem or the Palm Mobile Internet Kit, which is software and a cable to link with a cell phone that is used as a modem. Palm VII users have a built-in wireless modem that connects them wirelessly to Palm.net, which is a collection of content and services tailored to the Palm device.
Also announced at the annual conference were:
- A licensing deal with Samsung Electronics, which will use the Palm OS software in a family of handheld smart phones, due out mid-2001.
- A Visual Basic interpreter, from AppForge, that Palm will distribute. It will let any Palm OS device run Visual Basic applications built with the AppForge development tools.
- Release by Sun of Java APIs and services for Palm OS, letting Java developers build applications that can be deployed on Palm devices.
Also in 2001, Palm will release, with third parties, add-on modules to support the Bluetooth short-range wireless connection. Bluetooth-equipped devices can share information directly or connect to access points that are connected to corporate LANs. Palm will incorporate Bluetooth software into Palm OS.
Other planned communications improvements include enhanced e-mail and expanded support for voice. Palm plans to add to its e-mail capability new messaging features, such as message notification and instant messaging. Another change will let Palm users access Microsoft Exchange e-mail. Palm OS 4.0 will include new features to support voice telephony applications.
Palm will also add Palm OS features to secure personal information such as driver's license, passport and credit card data. The eventual goal is to let Palm devices act as electronic "wallets" -- with the features and data built-in to make wireless transactions faster and easier.