What Isn’t in Palm OS Cobalt… Yet

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At the PalmSource conference today, company executives have been talking about all the new features in Palm OS Cobalt. However, there are some significant features that didn’t make it into this version. Still, PalmSource says these will be in a future version

User Interface (UI)

The look and feel of the Palm OS has changed very little since its earliest days. Though many are accustomed to the way the user interface works, one of the most popular categories of Palm applications is Launcher replacements, which shows that there’s room for improvement.

However, the UI in Palm OS Cobalt remains almost unchanged from the previous versions (see picture at left). About the only difference is the inclusion of the Task Bar, though several handhelds already use versions of this.

Still, Larry Slotnick from PalmSource said this morning that his company intends to change the look and feel in the next version of Cobalt. He didn’t give any details of what the differences will be. Still, the changes made to the new version of the Address Book might be a clue of the direction PalmSource is going. It uses a series of tabs across the top of the screen to show various screens of information.

File Manager

Another feature of the Palm OS that hasn’t changed Is the fact that there is no file management system in RAM. This means that all files in the handheld’s memory exist on the same level, and aren’t broken up into groups.

In addition, the Palm OS severely limits the types of files that can be stored in RAM, though developers have found somewhat kludgy work-arounds for this.

PalmSource’s Mr. Slotnick said today this is also on his company’s agenda for a future version of Cobalt. While he would’t say any more, he did say that the developers don’t necessarily think that the familiar paradigm of files in folders is appropriate for handhelds.

Apple Macintosh Synchronization

The previous features are ones that aren’t yet available in the Palm OS, but will be someday. Macintosh synchronization is something that the Palm OS used to offer, but won’t any more.

Mr. Slotnick (see picture at right) made it clear that PalmSource isn’t developing a Mac version of the Palm Desktop. As the way the PIM apps work has changed significantly, this means Mac users won’t be able to HotSync without third-party software.

Fortunately, a third party has already stepped forward. Mark/Space is going to release a version of its Missing Sync application for Cobalt. This will allow existing Mac conduits for other third-party applications to still work.

In addition to the standard functions, Missing Sync for Cobalt will allow Bluetooth and Wi-Fi HotSyncing.

Mark/Space indicated this application will probably cost about what the current one does now, about $40. However, the company is open to licensing its application to Palm OS licensees who want to add Mac OS X synchronization to their handhelds.

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