Palm opening WebOS SDK up to developers

We still don't know the price of the Pre, but Palm is ready to start letting developers get down and dirty with the software that will run on its comeback hope.

Tom Krazit Former Staff writer, CNET News
Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.
Tom Krazit
2 min read
Michael Abbott at Web 2.0 Expo
Michael Abbott at Web 2.0 Expo 2009 James Martin/CNET

Palm is ready to let the world get its hands on the software development kit for WebOS, its next-generation mobile operating system.

At the Web 2.0 Expo on Wednesday, Palm's Michael Abbott announced that the company is ready to let developers start playing with its Mojo SDK, until now restricted to a few dozen select invitees.

He also showed how developers can tap into the messaging stream at the bottom of a Palm Pre using a Palm-hosted notifications service, and provided a link to Palm's past with the announcement of an emulator that will let WebOS users run their old Palm applications.

Abbott walked developers through the Mojo Messaging Service, which is a push notification service that developers can use to send status updates, such as the receipt of a new instant message, said Palm's Paul Cousineau, director of product management for WebOS.

If that sounds like the technology Apple just showed off at its iPhone 3.0 event, it is, but with a slightly different implementation: Apple's notification service will display a text-message-like pop-up window in whatever application is running, while Mojo and WebOS use a notifications bar that doesn't interrupt the application.

Palm obviously hopes to attract loads of developers to WebOS in order to tap into the mobile application madness that's sweeping the mobile phone industry, and will make its pitch to a group that's very familiar with the HTML, CSS, and Javascript technologies that are used to build WebOS applications, Cousineau said.

Palm's Mojo SDK and notifications service Palm

But Palm has also found a way to throw its older developers a bone, as was discovered earlier Wednesday. "Classic" is an emulator that will ship with WebOS and allow old Palm OS applications to run on the Pre and other WebOS phones, Cousineau said.

A registration page went live on Palm's Web site on Wednesday. There will be no charge to download the SDK, and neither will developers have to join any kind of Palm developer association, Cousineau said.

And despite repeated attempts, Cousineau declined to share the pricing or release date for the Palm Pre. Palm has trickled out information regarding the Pre over the last several months since announcing it at CES 2009 in January, but has yet to shed any light on one of the most important factors that will decide how it is received.