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Palm Challenges iPhone with the Pre

Palm Challenges iPhone with the Pre
Design
Nicko Margolies

Yesterday at CES, Palm unveiled their new mobile operating system and accompanying device, the Pre.  Many initially likened it to Apple’s iPhone and the Andriod-powered G1, but it is clear that Palm is looking to push for unique features.  Among the most notable innovations, Palm has developed a wireless charging station and an integration of web services into the core system.  The new operating system funcations like each window is a card and you are the saavy blackjack dealer flying through multiple operations.

Unlike the iPhone, the Pre has the ability to run background applications like gchat so you are connected to conversations even while browsing the web.  The Pre also enables copy, paste and MMS messaging, things still missing in the iPhone.  However, the Pre does borrow heavily from the iPhone in many of the pinch-and-two-finger gestures, the layout adjustments made through an accelrometer and graphic user interface of menus and application bars (not to mention the design itself).  All this may be unsurprising as the executive chairman, Jon Rubinstein, used to run Apple’s hardware engineering department.

One feature that caught us completely off guard is the wireless charging station dubbed the “Touchstone.”  Even though it is being sold seperately it marks the first implimentation of technology consumers have been dreaming of for years.  The Pre also uses a new feature called Synergy to keep all contact information up to date through Facebook, Outlook and other sources.  It will be interesting to see how Palm’s gamble plays in the current marketplace and whether they can clinge to the reputation they once had in the smartphone arena.  No word on the price point yet, but it is rumored to be more than the iPhone’s $199 benchmark.

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