New Details Emerge on the Palm OS Replacement

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PalmSource held a one-day mini-conference for developers last week, giving the world its best look so far at how work is progressing on the replacement for the Palm OS.

David Beers from Pikesoft Mobile Computing was there and filed a report with Palm Infocenter.

According to Mr. Beers, PalmSource’s new operating system, code-named Access Linux Platform (ALP), is on schedule for delivery to licensees by the end of this year. Many people are hoping that new devices running this OS will debut next spring.

With this deadline still so far away, there is still a great deal of work to be done, but much of this seems to be on some of the applications that will be bundled with ALP. Work on the operating system itself appears to be mostly finished. 

Multitasking

One of the most important features in ALP is support for multi-tasking, so it isn’t surprising that Mr. Beers devotes a significant amount of time to it in his report.

Devices running this operating system will be able to run multiple applications simultaneously, but they will not do so by default. PalmSource has decided to let developers decide whether their applications should be able to run in the background or operate as Palm OS ones do now: quit when a new application launches.

Background applications will still have access to the screen. While testing a demo device, Mr. Beers was able to bring up the control panel for an audio player while running another application in the foreground.

New Resolutions

Mr. Beers reports being told by PalmSource that the devices ALP is primarily targeting will include a QVGA touchscreen and numberpad, and there were numerous Haier N60 flip-phones with this configuration demonstrating it at the mini-conference.

Older Palm OS applications designed to run on 320-by-320-pixel displays are scaled down on lower-resolution screens.

QVGA won’t be the only option for licensees, though. There were also demonstration machines showing ALP running on a simulated device with a VGA display and a keyboard.

Backward Compatibility

If the replacement for the Palm OS is going to be successful, the ability to run applications written for the current operating system is an absolute necessity.

According to Mr. Beers, ALP offers excellent backward compatibility. “The applications I brought for testing as well as those of the two other Palm developers I spoke with ran perfectly in the emulator.”

Mr. Beers’ full report can be found on Palm Infocenter.

More About ALP

In order to keep it competitive, PalmSource is making some very significant changes to its operating system for handhelds and smartphones.

The most obvious of these is the name. Last year, PalmSource sold all rights to the brand name “Palm” to Palm, Inc. so the next version of its operating system won’t use that word. Currently, it is code-named ALP (Access Linux Platform). At some point, PalmSource itself will also get a name change.

A less obvious but just as important change is happening at the roots of this operating system. As its name suggests, this will be the first Linux-based version of this OS.

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