On Thursday, June 11, 2009, Palm held an event in San Francisco at the Thirsty Bear Brewing Company. The event was an attempt to grab some of the WWDC attendees and app developers so they could ask Palm's webOS engineers questions directly about the OS.
Palm wasn't the only one there this week throwing out an invite to the attendees, Symbian the world's largest mobile operating system vendor, got into the mix by having it's own "Hack-a-thon". The hack-a-thon attendees, who will be able to code for Web runtime, Python (S60), or Flash Lite, were given a free Nokia 5800 for showing up. Google gave away the HTC Magic, unlocked, phones at the Google I/O just weeks earlier. Unfortunately, Palm wasn't giving out their device and I just received my Pre from Sprint on Friday.
I first met with Geoff, UI designer for Palm. My first question to him was "So, what about the Konami code?" Geoff started to chuckle and said he couldn't say much about it. A few moments later, one of the managers came over and asked how I was doing? I ask him the same question. He brushed off the question as I went to say "No comment I guess?" Then I made a reference to Geoff that perhaps Palm released the Konami information on purpose so devs would be able to play around with the code and gain certain information which would eventually help Palm. Now that we know the new ARM A9 Dual Core Arm Chipset is coming to Palm soon, with a faster processor and thousands of devs working for free, should allow Palm to build a more robust webOS. I then said "this was genius if it was intentionally done by Palm to get some free dev work." Geoff just laughed and said, "Ya, that's it. It was on purpose!" By that response, I gathered that Palm did not know about the code and was quickly scrambling to gain some insight from the dev (hacker) community, but who knows. I did overhear another conversation which took place by a Palm rep that the webOS was close to being finalized by Palm just as the Pre was about to be released - which we all figured was the case anyways.
We do know that the Wiki set up for the Rooting of the Palm Pre has been buzzing with all sorts of additions to the Pre's webOS for the last few days. Also, the IRC channel #webos-internals on freenode has been busy with activity. The other night, it appeared that a couple of Palm engineers were on the channel answering some basic questions. Palm wants to keep a tight lid the developments so they are keeping a close watch as to what is going on in the channel(s).
One of the WWDC attendees that decided to write Palm last Saturday and asked Palm to hold an event was Bob Jonson, developer of VLC Remote (in addition to about a dozen other apps for the iPhone). Bob asked one of the Palm engineers his concern over someone able to root his app just like they did with the Palm Pre. Geoff said that "security is the number one priority at Palm and that is why only a handful of developers have the SDK" with which to build applications. Geoff also said that "they were flooded with thousands of requests to build apps for the webOS system."
Furthermore, Bob brought up a couple of interesting observations. He didn't like how with Apple, he would have to wait two weeks to hear back from them after submitting an app. He asked what Palm's stance would be on this type of situation? Geoff said that they are trying to work on it from the developers point of view and assist them to get the apps to market as quickly as possible as this process would benefit everyone.
Another question was can Palm allow devs to build an app and then have the app tested and put through it's paces with a few "personal beta testers?" This would allow the user to interact with the developer by providing feedback on how the application works. I chimed in that this could be a few of the devs friends or other devs they work with and that they would be able to download and install the application which giving the dev a better understanding to all sorts of feedback in all areas of interface and code compilation. Geoff really thought Bob's idea was great and said he would take it back to the main engineers to see what they can come up with on Palm's side.
At another table, I watched another Palm representative give some app engineers from Ireland a tour of the Pre. The group of men were certainly awed with the interface and I heard them question the very polite lady by the name of Liz, to find out when the Pre coming to Europe. She said very soon but we got closer to a release date in Europe as reported earlier today.
Overall, this was Palm's attempt at reaching a hand out to the dev community and answer some questions on the developments with the webOS. Several of the attendees were from all around the world including, the U.K., Ireland, China and Australia. I was happy that I attended the event and meeting several of the people from Palm. They treated every question (except my Konami question) with great concern and respect. One of the PR reps for Palm Aaron Hydes, really took the time to listen and speak with me over some of my concerns and he made sure to give me his email and shake my hand as I was leaving. I look forward to attending many more of Palm's events in the near future and watching this company prosper as they have a game changing OS to build upon. All that Palm has to do is get some of the nVidia Tegra based chipsets shrunk down in their handsets. That would be a dream come true.