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Digital Hub's Missing Spoke

by Derrick Story
03/18/2002

Dear Mac Reader,

Not long ago, Jeff Hawkins gave a terrific talk at Comdex about the wireless landscape and the future of mobile computing. Hawkins, the inventor of Graffiti, is also the co-founder of Handspring.

On one hand, I was excited about the new Visor Treo and Hawkins' vision for handheld devices. But at the same time, my current frustration with Hawkins' former employer, Palm Computing, began to simmer again. Why? Because Palm's lack of progress toward bringing a full-featured Palm desktop to Mac OS X has left the Digital Hub with a missing spoke.

Visors are the only PDAs I've ever used. In part, I've stuck with them because Hawkins and crew have always been very Mac-friendly. From day one you could pull a Visor out of the box and plug it right in to your Mac.

The Palm developer community is also Mac-friendly. AvantGo, Vindigo, EyeModule 2, gMovie, AOL, AIM, Eudora, Blazer; on and on -- all work with the Mac. It's one of the few areas in the computing world where Macs have been full-fledged citizens. That is, until recently.

We're still waiting for a Mac OS X Palm Desktop that is stable, refined, and works with the other iApps. Instead, we have an inadequate beta with virtually no conduits.

Funny thing is, if you use Windows XP, you have refined desktops from both Palm and Visor. But OS X users have this buggy piece of beta with no date of final release on the horizon.

As one user recently asked in a Palm forum, "Does anyone actually like this software? Does anyone think it's worth switching to before the final version comes out?" Which the moderator responded to by saying, "It is my personal opinion that if you can wait out using the Palm Desktop for Mac OS X, you should do so. There seem to be a number of bugs still in the beta, and a number of third party conduits will not be written for the OS X until Palm releases the non-beta version."

Now that's promising.

There are a few glimmers of hope, however. I recently tested a nifty Palm program called SplashPhoto that allows you to drag and drop images into it from iPhoto. SpalshPhoto is Mac OS X native and even HotSyncs with the beta Palm desktop. Thanks to SplashPhoto, my images can easily flow from the digital camera, to the PowerBook, to the Visor Prism. That's the way the Digital Hub is supposed to work.

It's time for the Palm software division to pump-up their OS X tire and get rolling. As for those independent Palm developers who have braved the new platform already, such as the crew at SplashData, thanks guys. Some of us really appreciate your efforts.

Until next time,

Derrick Story
O'Reilly Network Managing Editor
derrick@oreilly.com

(Now that everyone has left the theater ...)


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