Features and screenshots of Palm OS 5.3
The rundown of changes in PalmSource’s OS 5.3 revision is in. New in 5.3 is support for QVGA screens, 240 pixels wide by 320 long. This is a departure for Palm, which has previously stuck to multiples of 160. This would place the new resolution between the older 160×160 ‘LowRes’, and the newer 320x ‘HighRes’. QVGA is the screen resolution used by all PocketPCs.
Support for virtual Grafitti–referred to by Palm as ‘dynamic input areas’–is now standardized on the OS level, so future applications will be able to take advantage of the extra screen space across all devices using it, without specific compatibility issues. Included is DIA support for low-resolution screens, at a new resolution of 160 pixels wide by 220 long. Frankly, I can’t see the point of this, but it’s there.
This also means that with the addition of QVGA and DIAs for lower resolutions, we now have six different possible resolutions: LowRes (160 x 160), LowRes+ (160 x 220), MidRes (240×240), MidRes+ (240 x 320), HighRes (320 x 320), and HighRes+ (320 x 480) Hopefully, Palm has included a method for automating the handling of resolutions, so that we need not have three or four different files for each program.
One other thing that the addition of QVGA support means is that the long-theorized idea of a dual-boot handheld, carrying both PocketPC and Palm OSes, is actually possible now. Don’t look for it soon, if ever, but it’s possible. It also means that PocketPC manufacturers like Dell would find it cheaper to branch out into Palms since they could use the same proceessors and the same screens.
Last is OS-level support for the Simplified Chinese character set. This is part of Palm’s big marking push in China.
PocketLoft has acquired the OS 5.3 Simulator, and has posted screenshots on their site:
As always, a notation. Palm OS 5.3 is not available to end users, and you can’t upgrade to it until, and unless, your manufacturer puts out a ROM update. That almost certainly won’t happen for most of you, so this discussion primarily affects future models. That said, these changes are all good signs. Hopefully we will soon start seeing an increase in full-screen Palms with Dynamic Input Areas.
Tungsten T2 and Zire 71 password fix
Palm has an inportant security update to fix a bug in the TT2 and Zire 71 handhelds. The problem could possibly compromise the security of the device when using a password and the automatic lock option.
Rumored release schedule for Axim X3 Basic & Advanced
Brighthand has been given alledged insider information about Dell’s next PocketPC, a thin-and-light model with SDIO designed to oppose the iPaq 1900s. The information appears legitimate, and fits with other rumors about the X3, as well as Dell’s general style.