PalmSource's European developer conference is going on now in Germany, and this company is using this opportunity to show off Palm OS Cobalt 6.1, the latest version of its operating system.
A lot of what PalmSource has added to Cobalt 6.1 is for smartphones, but handheld users will find plenty to make them happy, too.
First off, support for VGA (640-by-480 pixel) screens has been built-into the operating system. Previously, a Palm OS licensee who wanted to use a VGA screen would have to do much of the work to enable this itself.
Switching between portrait and landscape modes is also now a part of the operating system.
This operating system also introduces a Preferences application designed to allow users to manage numerous individual settings and preferences in one central location.
Cobalt 6.1 includes built-in support for Bluetooth 1.2 and Wi-Fi (802.11b) wireless networking.
SDIO (Secure Digital Input/Output) is now a part of the operating system. SDIO allows peripherals such as cameras and wireless networking cards to be plugged into the SD memory card slot.
In addition, Palm OS Cobalt 6.1 is compliant with USB On-the-Go, a technology that facilitates compatibility between USB-enabled mobile devices.
Of course, simply because PalmSource has added support for these features to the operating system doesn't mean that every future handheld and smartphone will include all of them. Instead, it will now be much easier for licensees to integrate any of these features they want in their devices, without having to do a lot of the coding themselves.
Palm OS Cobalt 6.1 now includes a standard GSM, MUX, and a new GPRS API designed to make it easier and faster for hardware manufacturers to create a Palm Powered smartphone.
It includes an improved setup for simultaneous wireless connections: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPRS, etc. It includes multiple GPRS connection management.
It also adds standard support for NAND ROMs through an automatic backup and restore feature designed to prevent the loss of users' data when a device runs out of power, or when the user is swapping batteries.
It is not known at this time when the first handhelds running Palm OS Cobalt 6.1 will debut. PalmSource says the first smartphones with this operating system aren't likely to debut for another year.
Earlier this year, PalmSource decided to offer two versions of its operating system.
Palm OS Cobalt is the version for traditional handhelds and high-end smart phones. The second version of is what used to be called Palm OS 5 but was re-named Palm OS Garnet. This one will be used on low-cost smart phones.
Cobalt can run most applications written for Garnet, but applications specially written to take advantage of the new capabilities of Cobalt won't be able to run under Garnet.
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