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Palm Frees Up webOS Development 117

Posted by kdawson
from the more-open-than-thou dept.
Per Wigren writes in with news that Palm has just announced a number of changes to its webOS development platform that should really be welcomed by developers — especially after the chilly reception that Palm seemed to be giving to open source in recent days. OSnews notes that "This moves the webOS much closer to Android territory." Quoting TechCrunch: "The first is that they're allowing developers to fully distribute their apps via the web. What this means is that developers can simply submit their apps to Palm, and Palm will return to them a URL that they can then blog, tweet, do whatever they want to share it. When a person then clicks on that URL they can easily install the app, bypassing any kind of store. And while Palm is providing the URL, it is not going to be reviewing the apps in any way — a clear dig at Apple's approval process. The next announcement is that Palm is waiving the $99 yearly fee it normally charges to developers to make webOS apps if those apps are going to be open source."
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Palm Frees Up webOS Development

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  • by monoqlith (610041) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @02:16PM (#29660393)

    I'm all for letting any non-maleficent app through without some ridiculous approval process, but some common sense restrictions should be applied. Shouldn't Palm at least be checking to see if the apps are malware?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @02:17PM (#29660437)

    This seems nice. WebOS already had open source Linux operating system (some people knows it as "Linux kernel") and now the whole system is a one step more open.

  • Re:nice timing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @02:24PM (#29660563)

    Funny they should do that precisely on WM 6.5's launchday...

    Palm's just desperately trying to stay in the news, which is also what the whole Pre-iTunes sync drama is all about. They must be pretty close to the edge. I hope they do well with this move though so they can motivate Apple to do the same.

  • by NiteShaed (315799) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @02:38PM (#29660757)

    Yesterday: Palm is EVIL! They're forcing us through a proprietary app catalog, and ruling out choice and freedom and forcing developers to play by their rules! Down with Palm!
    Today: Palm is EVIL! By letting people download from anywhere, they're not checking these apps for safety before people can download them, which will infest the Pre with malware! Down with Palm!

    Meet the new Slashdotters, same as the old Slashdotters.

  • by isThisNameAvailable (1496341) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @02:40PM (#29660793)
    That's what the official App Catalog will be for: safe, screened little confections for the average Joe. This is simply an alternative for developers and consumers who don't want to go through Palm for whatever reason. Keep in mind the old Palm OS, Windows Mobile, and Symbian have always allowed you to load whatever random app you found on the net, too. Apple's the one that came along and made the walled garden popular.
  • by metamatic (202216) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @02:42PM (#29660831) Homepage Journal

    Shouldn't Palm at least be checking to see if the apps are malware?

    'cause Apple's application inspection regime has worked well to prevent malware [slashdot.org], right?

    If your platform security relies on code inspection to catch malware, you're setting yourself up for epic fail.

  • by DrgnDancer (137700) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @02:45PM (#29660897) Homepage

    I think you will find that Slashdot is made up of more than one person, and that the opinions expressed here are often variable. Surprisingly enough, all of the thousands of people that read a story, and the hundreds that often comment on a story do not agree on everything. See any story or post that mentions: "Apple", "Microsoft", "iPhone", "Linux on the Desktop" for examples of this fact.

  • Re:Say what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by isThisNameAvailable (1496341) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @02:47PM (#29660933)
    Seriously. I can't believe no one has figured out a way of exchanging goods and services on the Internet for some sort of currency without the benefit of monolithic corporate store fronts.
  • Re:Say what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fallen Seraph (808728) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @03:00PM (#29661089)
    Ok, now try reading the article. The link is for devs who want a distribution method other than the store, but want Palm to host it, to make it easy for people to download it. This does not mean the app will be listed in the app catalog. If you want it to be listed in the official app catalog, then you can pay the yearly fee (same as Apple) and pick a price point for your app. The link is simply IN ADDITION to the store, not a replacement for it. They're trying to give developers as many options as possible to distribute their apps, on top of the 3rd party homebrew app catalogs which already exist.

    And the mention that open source apps will not require a fee to be in the official app catalog is a major boon for open source software, because that means there's no cash or fee required to distribute a free and open app. I'm gonna be honest, thus far, WebOS in many ways seems to be a more consumer friendly version of Android. Hopefully when WebOS gets Java support it will expand even further.
  • by thule (9041) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @03:08PM (#29661223) Homepage
    Palm traditionally has let any program from any source run on their OS's. The initial restriction of only allowing programs installed via their app store is Apple thinking, not traditional Palm thinking.
  • by tlhIngan (30335) <(ten.frow) (ta) (todhsals)> on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @03:25PM (#29661451)

    Shouldn't Palm at least be checking to see if the apps are malware?

    'cause Apple's application inspection regime has worked well to prevent malware, right?

    If your platform security relies on code inspection to catch malware, you're setting yourself up for epic fail.

    Is that functionality malware? From post #29585841 [slashdot.org],

    I was curious if this was possible on other devices. Seems like all the big ones have some API functionality to retrieve similar information:

    - http://docs.blackberry.com/en/developers/deliverables/8540/Retrieve_phone_number_BB_device_565546_11.jsp [blackberry.com] Blackberry

    - http://blogs.msdn.com/windowsmobile/archive/2004/11/28/271110.aspx [msdn.com] Windows Mobile

    - http://www.forum.nokia.com/infocenter/index.jsp?topic=/S60_5th_Edition_Cpp_Developers_Library/GUID-3EB7E846-A29F-4546-B04D-A90B009903EF.html [nokia.com] [nokia.com] Symbian (while on casual inspection there appears to be no function to retrieve the phone number, you can retrieve the IMEI, and be notified on events such as phone calls, at which point you can retrieve the caller ID as well as the dialed number)

    - http://developer.android.com/reference/android/telephony/TelephonyManager.html [android.com] Android (requires permissions be granted to the app)

    So it's malware on the iPhone, when it's a supported API on a number of other platforms, except Symbian.

    OTOH, this is good for Palm - we'll soon be inundated with Norton Antivirus for WebOS, McAfee Antivirus for WebOS, etc. Just like Symbian and I believe WinMo have. After all, we can't have another Liberty virus [smobilesystems.com] that afflicted PalmOS devices. (This was named after the Liberty Game Boy Emulator [gambitstudios.com] for PalmOS).

    And I suppose, good for developers of fart apps, flashlight apps, and other spam apps [gizmodo.com]. Last one was particularly interesting. Helps the Pre's app numbers, though.

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @03:26PM (#29661473) Homepage Journal

    No matter what the smallprint says, it looks like they're associated with it. The first time something goes wrong they'll be getting the blame - and most likely, a lawsuit too.

    They're insane. Never, never associate your brand with something that isn't reasonably under your control.

  • by SCHecklerX (229973) <thecaptain@captaincodo.net> on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @03:31PM (#29661505) Homepage

    Why? Your device. Securing it is your responsibility. Don't like that? tell all the windoze lusers with zombie-infested machines they can't install whatever they want anymore. Blackberry deals with this well with their application firewall. No reason palm (or, gee, a 3rd party!) couldn't do the same.

    I'm looking forward to getting a pre, but not sure about the reliability of Sprint's network vs. ATT. *sigh*. I wish the whole tying of phone to network thing would go away. Pre on Verizon without hobbling the OS would be quite nice.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @03:31PM (#29661507)

    To the first drive-by downloader for webOS. Although even the densest user will probably figure out when their phone is turned into a spambot - maybe not until they get the data bill, but they'll notice.

  • by Tacvek (948259) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @04:04PM (#29662075) Journal

    Palm here though is hosting the apps on palm owned webspace.

    I just don't get it. If palm is letting non-reviewed apps be made available (They will probably still review any placed in the store, but being in the store will not be a requirement for installation), then why require them to come from a special location?

    Why not just create a standard archive format for app distribution, and let anybody make and distribute apps. Just like with the Windows Mobile platform, or for that matter the PalmOS platform?

  • Re:Say what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tacvek (948259) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @04:21PM (#29662317) Journal

    You mean like all the many independent app stores that previously existed for the PalmOS, Windowm Mobile, and Symbian OS, but are being phased out in favor of Apple style APP stores?

    Or how about independent app sales by the application developer, who you pay with a credit card, and they send you the app, or more commonly they send you an unlock code for the app, which is publicly available shareware style?

    Those systems work well, except that the average moron that buys an Windows Mobile based phone from HTC have no idea they can just go online and download any Windows Mobile 6 compatible application they find.
    For whatever reason that concept just does not occur the the average idiot. I don't know why. Whenever I get a new device where I might be able to run software from the Internet, one of the first things I do is go looking around at what is available. I'm guessing most readers of this site are like this too.

  • by rwa2 (4391) * on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @04:39PM (#29662531) Homepage Journal
    Well, they still control the URL used to download the app, so they can ostensibly yank an app if "the community" finds out something is laden with malware. Pretty much the same way big open source distribution points work.

    I bet they also make you click through some legal disclaimer when you download any app through them anyway.

    I'm glad they're going for the side of "too open" vs. "too closed", while still maintaining some modicum of control. It's not like they let people load apps directly from anywhere, propagating who-knows-what.

  • by bytestorm (1296659) on Tuesday October 06, 2009 @04:40PM (#29662563)
    ...framebuffer support. Seriously, there's only so much you can do when all you get is a javascript engine and html for your UI elements. I love my Pre as a phone, but the environment doesn't suit my developer needs.
  • by rwa2 (4391) * on Wednesday October 07, 2009 @08:54AM (#29668681) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, I certainly agree that they're far too closed. I've really liked using Palm stuff over the years... still use my Palm T|X as my primary organizer while holding out for their Linux-based offering. Then the Pre came out without any kind of memory card support, which was the main dealbreaker for me... I couldn't figure out why they'd make such a blatant omission, but it's starting to make sense now that they're following the Apple model of locking down the device so you can only put things on it OTA through their channels or via their proprietary wired conduit.

    Now that I think about it, they've started this some time ago, when they removed the USBdrive mode when going from the Palm T5 to the Palm T|X, though you could still work around it by installing apps in the SD card and moving it things to/from its main memory using FileZ.

    Anyway, I didn't want to be stuck with their tethering application to get things in and out of the device, so I ended up waiting a few months more... I just pre-ordered an unlocked Nokia N900 a week ago. While it's more expensive, it's essentially a pocketable Debian box which is more along the lines of what I've always wanted anyway.

    I'll miss Palm's well-designed PIM apps, but Maemo has a free PalmOS 5 Garnet emulator on it (you have to pay extra for the PalmOS 5 emulator on the Pre for carrying over your legacy Palm apps - brilliant), so Maemo even seems to offer a better upgrade path for us die-hard Palm users than Palm does these days :P .

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