Monday, June 15, 2009

Applications Give Android An Edge Over webOS For Now

While I love my new Palm Pre there is a huge elephant in the room—actually two elephants, the iPhone and Android. Both of these platforms have large (freakin' huge in the case of the iPhone) catalogs of third-party applications and Android has one which really stands out for me—Google Maps. Google Maps is pretty ubiquitous on mobile phones these days with even cheap dumb phones having a version available to them. But versions vary from phone to phone and the one on the Palm Pre is lovely and easy to use. But on an Android phone like my T-Mobile G1, Google Maps is really special with desktop-like features like Street View integrated into the interface (I think that the iPhone version of Google Maps also has this feature). The Pre's version of Google Maps is comparatively simpler with a sleeker interface but no street view. And in the meantime, Google has just updated the Android version of Google Maps with new features. Every version of Google Maps has driving directions but the new Android version adds public transportation and walking directions—a feature which I love on the desktop. And Google has released it through the Android Market so there is no need to wait months on end for an over the air update as was the case with the Cupcake update.

Google Maps almost makes me want to choose my G1 over the Pre all by itself. Almost. At the end of the day the Pre is still faster than the G1 by a quit a bit and its GPS feels more accurate if for no other reason than because it can get an accurate fix more quickly.

Still, if it were available on faster hardware it would be hard to recommend Palm's webOS over Google's Android at this point. Now that Documents to Go has arrived on Android, editing documents—a traditional strength of Palm devices—is poised to become a strength of Android. A version of Documents to Go for the Palm Pre has been promised but has not arrived yet.

While there is still a lot of promise in webOS for third party applications, without an available Software Development Kit, it's hard for people to actually create them. Right now most webOS development is taking the form of trying to hack the operating system and applications. Worse, it seems that Palm isn't supporting these hackers for fear of offending Sprint. But without an official SDK underground hacking is the only game in town for developers who aren't traditional friends of Palm like MotionApps and Dataviz. The fact that to date there are only thirty applications in the Pre's App Catalog at a time when there are thousands of apps in the Android Market and tens of thousands of apps in the iPhone App Store, only serves to underline how far Palm has to go to catch up the big boys.

Despite some hiccups Palm has done very well in rolling out the Palm Pre and the new webOS which powers it. MotionApps Classic application goes a long way to helping plug the gaps in Palm's App Catalog but it's not enough. Palm needs to put out an offcial SDK now.

1 comment:

Exclusive Media News said...

Android 2.1 is looking good this year i just hope all phones get the updates and not just the new ones.