Palm Pre Firmware Update Fixes Many Flaws

While playing the cat and mouse game with Apple and iTunes syncing, Palm has prepared a bunch of improvements for its Pre firmware that will be soon implemented as WebOS 1.2.1.

Palm's flagship handset, the Pre, will get that software update in the coming week, according to reports from PreCentral. Not only has the Website leaked word of the update, but offers a sneak peek at more than 70 key improvements arriving in WebOS 1.2.1.

Dozens of enthusiastic (and rather brave) Palm Pre users have downloaded the leaked and unreleased WebOS build, which is expected to grace all Pre users this week (or whenever Sprint feels like releasing it). PreCentral aggregated all the new features found on WebOS 1.2.1, and here are some of the most important ones:

  • improved copy/paste with text and images selection;
  • open Web links in new card option and image saving;
  • ability to download files from the browser, including PDF files;
  • auto-zoom when you click on a form field;
  • find-as-you-type search support in email application;
  • notifications using the LED button;
  • music controls when screen locked;
  • test notifications include contact picture;
  • resume play support for podcasts and long songs;
  • option to disable EVDO and use WiFi and standard voice service only.

The browser in the WebOS 1.2.1 has many improvements and it fixes most of the problems I criticized when reviewing the Pre browser and comparing it to the iPhone's earlier this month. In WebOS 1.2.1 you will be able to open links in a new card (tab), share a link, copy a URL, and save images -- putting the Pre browser second to the iPhone (only because of speed) and above Google's generic Android browser.

The iTunes Sync Dilemma

With the latest iteration of Apple's jukebox software, iTunes 9, Palm Pre's capability to sync with iTunes has been broken again. Although Palm complained to the USB regulatory group about Apple's unfair blocking, the Pre is still banned from iTunes sync.

itunes

However, last time Apple blocked the Pre from syncing with iTunes, it took Palm very little time to release a new OS update to fix the problem. The same treatment is expected with the WebOS 1.2.1 firmware, which is said to re-enable Palm Pre iTunes syncing (until the next iTunes update, that is).

The Apps are Flowing (Sort of)

The Palm Pre App Catalog is another territory where Palm needs to catch up with the iPhone and even Google Android. The Palm App Catalog has a limited number of applications available for download (around 60), while the Apple App Store offers more than 70,000.

Homebrew apps for the Palm Pre -- apps unauthorized by Palm -- are on the increase, though, and the latest count on the PreCentral list brings the number to around 240. However, the Palm App Catalog does not allow paid apps, which could be one reason many developers are holding back from marketing their apps through Palm's store.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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