In a few moments, we will see the fruits of the Palm team's many months of labor, and the Palm fan's answer to what the Post-Treo revolution looks like. Updates.
It's a lot for them to live up to, but we're resetting our expectations and approaching the lagging company's new model line with an open mind.
We're guessing we'll see a brand new phone, perhaps running the new OS, but who knows. What we do know so far is that Palm is rumored to announce a touchscreen slider running the Nova operating system, that according to descriptions, is squarish in appearance.
Palm first announced plans to release a new operating system back in May 2007, but they've delayed it so many times, I'm halfway convinced this event is just to announce they're delaying it again.
10:40 AM: This event has a more epic feel than the average CES press conference. I've already seen a lot of recognizable faces around here, including the omnipresent Robert Scoble. As someone said nearby, "it feels Apple-y."
10:45 AM: I'm getting the feeling that Palm is trying to seduce us with the romantic mood lighting, mellow music, and abundance of Vitamin Water. Is this their attempt at a reality distortion field?
10:55 AM: Not a lot going on right now, but Palm's product marketing manager is talking big game about the upcoming announcements (in vague terms, of course). She says we should be pleased.
11:01 AM: Event starting. Jon Rubenstein is talking about how he used to work at Apple. Then he packed up and moved to Mexico.
11:04 AM: Rubenstein says that mobile devices are the next wave of technology. This might be the obvious statement of the day.
11:06 AM: Jon Rubenstein has just brought Palm CEO Ed Colligan up to the stage.
11:07 AM: Colligan says lifestyle and usability is more important to Palm than raw features and "buttons". Talking about the instant on capability of the original Palm Pilot as an example. He wants to try and make the technology "invisible".
"Mobile is in our DNA. We don't do computers, we don't do refrigerators or set top boxes. We do mobile."
11:08 AM: It's interesting how Palm has to resell itself today, but is reaching back to its roots. In contrast, Jobs believes that looking back means being crushed.
11:10 AM: Colligan says he has a new twist on the same product. Talking about how we use so many websites and our data is all over the place. Smartphones let you browse that information, but they don't make it easy to access it. Simplicity seems to be the overarching theme here.
Colligan suggests it would be cool if we could seamlessly have our images from Facebook show up in the same place as our email and calendars.
11:14 AM: The whole new Palm OS is built with developers in mind. Developing apps, Colligan claims, is so easy.
New device coming now!! It's called the Palm Pre.
Palm Pre "will help you live your life more effectively." The design looks like an oblong rounded rectangle.
It has a 3.1 inch 480x320 multitouch screen that slides vertically to reveal a keyboard. The slider action is curved, sort of like the SE Xperia X1. It also has 3MP Camera, LED Flash, EVDO rev.A, WiFi, bluetooth, a gesture area on the screen for navigation and use, a removable battery, micro USB, USB mass storage support,and a 3.5mm Headphone Jack.
There's a gesture zone between the screen and button that lets you carry out pre-programmed actions with a few finger movements.
11:21 AM: The new UI is called Web OS, and it's designed to be so simple, you only need to focus on the information and content you want, not the OS itself.
They're demoing the Web OS UI right now. It looks a really responsive, aesthetically appealing design. It has alot of the same flick navigation as the iPhone and it looks really polished. The UI has a quick view that organizes data into "Cards" that can be rotated with your finger and it shuffles from card to card.
The phone itself reminds me of the Treo 680 in shape, except all there is on the front is a screen and a button. The main UI has a gesture zone, that lets you perform certain
One of the big new features is something called Synergy, which can pull contacts from all your sites (Facebook, Gmail, AIM, etc...), gather and organize them into one coherent list on the Palm Pre. It has dupe checking so you don't have the same contacts listed multiple times. It does the same thing for calendar events.
Web OS has been designed to work with your finger. All the demos are being done without a keyboard and stylus. Synergy can easily go from checking email, to scheduling meetings in a calendar, to IMing someone in your contact list.
Threaded SMS is still in Web OS, and you can even send IMs from the same window.
You can use the keyboard to do more than send texts and emails. The Pre has a predictive text feature that will bring up menus and apps based on what you type. It will cross reference your input with what you have on your phone, and it presents the info almost like search results. You can even take your input string and look for google results. They call it Universal search.
The web browser has a big URL bar at the top that can also be used to enter a search query. It renders full pages. While demoing the web browser with SF Gate, the presenter became fixated with a link that read "The Joy of Vole Sex." The crowd got a rise from that.
In other news, web pages render pretty quick, and navigation doesn't seem choppy at all.
The music UI is now on display. he just went from one "card" to the music UI, selected a song, then quickly switched back to his email screen. The app switching looks really really fluid, and lets you keep all your data in front of you, so you don't lose track of what you're doing.
When you're working in an app, the apps adapt when notifications (texts, emails, missed calls, etc.) pop on on the screen, so you dont get completely sidetracked. When writing a sticky note, for example, the sticky takes up the whole screen, but when you get a notification, the sticky morphs into half size, and the notification takes up the bottom half.
Rubenstein is back on stage, to introduce a wireless, inductive charger for the Palm Pre. It's called Touchstone. It looks like a hockey puck.
Colligan is back on stage now and says its the "one phone you can use for your entire life and really enjoy it."
Dan Hesse, CEO of Sprint is now on stage. He says Sprint will carry the Pre, and says it will feel comfortable for first time users, and really likes how easily you can move between apps.
Hesse just gave us a shout out on stage! He's talking about our big 3G Coast to Coast test. He was also sure to mention how well Sprint fared in that test. He then talked business nonsense for a few minutes and disappeared. But he did mention that the Pre will be a good fit on the Sprint network.
The Palm Pre will be available first half 2009, and will have partners such as Facebook, Pandora, Google and others providing content and apps for the phone.
And that's the end of the event. To recap, we saw the Palm Pre, Web OS, and a movement to integrate the internet seamlessly with these two new products.