One of the complaints I heard (and voiced) about the Palm Pre before its release was the lack of support for PalmOS apps and games. It felt like Palm was missing an opportunity to feature an enormous, ready-made library of apps. Additionally, with the large (but admittedly shrinking) army of devoted Palm users, it seemed like there was an almost built in path to an automatic upgrade. By not supporting those apps, it seemed as though many users might choose to stick with their current devices rather than risk giving up significant functionality with an unknown operating system.
Apparently, Palm was listening to those complaints, at least partially, because they ended up giving users a way to utilize all of their previously owned PalmOS apps on the Palm Pre. That method is Classic, which is essentially a PalmOS emulator from Motion Apps.
When you load it up, you are faced with an on-screen graphical representation of a classic PalmOS device. You can navigate by utilizing the on-screen”hardware” buttons, exactly as you would with a Palm device. Everything which you would expect to find in the classic PalmOS is here, and you can even add as many classic PalmOS apps as you would like. Thus, giving you access to your complete library.
Now, you should be forewarned that any apps you have running in Classic are running in a completely isolated shell on your device. This means they cannot access any other data you may have stored on your device, such as contacts, appointments, and tasks. If you want to use a Classic app for this, you would have to input the information separately.
The other downside to this app is the price. Of the 32 apps in the App Catalog, it is the only one which is not currently free. Then again, it did give me the opportunity to test out the purchasing experience. From the App Catalog, you can download a free seven day trial to get a feel for the app. I was happy to find a built-in system for trials, so we do not have to deal with this business of a “Lite” version of the app vs a full or pro version. That just got confusing.
Once you have downloaded it, there is a purchase option within the app. Input your email and you will be sent more specific instructions for purchase. This generally involves going to the developer’s website and paying them directly, then returning to the app to enter a purchase code. Boy do I hope this is not the final process, because it is just way too cumbersome. One of the things I really liked about the iTunes App Store is the fact that it is all self contained. You enter your Paypal or credit card info one time and that’s it. Purchase to your heart’s content. I hope this system is just a stopgap for a more permanent and convenient purchasing procedure.
Finally, Classic costs $29.99, which I found to be ridiculous. To me, it felt like an extra punishment for being a loyal Palm user. I can imagine quite a few Centro and Treo users remaining loyal to their apps and loading them onto the Pre via this app. However, it is hard to imagine many of them paying $29.99 for the privilege of doing so. Palm really should have made this one of the included apps in the WebOS operating system.
I really loved this emulator concept, and would love to see someone offering a similar solution for Windows Mobile, Symbian, Blackberry, and even iPhone apps. That being said, I do think they need to reevaluate the pricing and purchasing model. If the purchasing experience and $29.99 pricetag is an indication of what we can expect from the Palm Pre App Catalog after it officially launches in September, then it will have a hard time rivaling the iTunes App Store,