Palm Improves User Experience With WebOS Update

Michelle Maisto covers mobile devices, Android and Apple for eWEEK and is also a food writer.

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Palm has delivered a WebOS upgrade for its Pre and Pixi smartphones, which contains a number of fixes whilst promising an improved user experience

Palm has pushed out an upgrade to its WebOS operating system, the platform that Palm developed specifically for its Palm Pre and the Palm Pixi smartphones.

WebOS 1.3.5 is available as of 28 December, and it includes updates, improvements and a housecleaning of what were likely irritating, early snafus. For example, files with a .3g2 extension now correctly play as audio files, not video files; the web browser now supports animated GIF files; and a user’s default email signature now displays the Pre product name correctly.

Palm has also improved the application download experience for its App Catalog, and users can now download multiple applications at once, as well as pause, resume and cancel downloads. They can also enable downloads to continue in the background while other screens are navigated and use the full storage capacity of the phone for downloading apps.

A full erase of the device can be performed more easily with 1.3.5, and users can edit forwarded text for all email account types and launch Sprint Navigation from an address in an open contact entry. Apps can now also be purchased from US territories.

There are additionally small conveniences – when the screen is locked, the time is displayed in a different font – and bits of streamlining: When the user has “network time zone” enabled, the city and country are no longer displayed.

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In September, Palm announced it would stop launching devices running Microsoft’s mobile operating system, in favour of focusing on WebOS, which is gradually gaining market share. According to AdMob, which measures ad requests, Palm garnered 4 percent of US web market share within two months of the Pre’s debut. In September, Palm smartphone traffic accounted for 13 percent US smartphone traffic, which put it in fourth place, just behind RIM and HTC. The clear leader, with 48 percent of smartphone ad requests, was Apple.

On 17 December, Palm announced greater-than-expected quarterly losses, but said it had shipped 783,000 smartphones during the quarter, which was a 41 percent improvement over the last year and exceeded analysts’ expectations.

The update for the Pre is available here, and the update for the Pixi is here.