Thursday, September 18, 2008

Third-Party Developers Are Essential

I was recently reminded how important third-party application developers are to the mobile computing user community.

Back on September 7, Pimlico Software, the company behind the popular DateBK application and the indispensable DBFitIt utility released a small, freeware application referred to only as “PalmHotSyncSetup” that allows older Palm OS smartphones and handhelds to sync with Palm Desktop 6.2 by ACCESS for Windows.

When Palm released the ACCESS edition of Palm Desktop 6.2, it only provided support for the recent crop of Palm devices running Palm OS 5.4.9. This includes the Palm z22, E2, TX, Treo 680, 700p, 755p, and the Palm Centro. If your Palm OS device didn’t come with Palm’s enhanced PIM applications (Contacts, Calendar, Memos, and Tasks) it was not officially supported. Testing older devices from my personal collection revealed that some older “legacy” devices could be synchronized with the new edition of Palm Desktop. My testing lead me to give the Tungsten E and Tungsten T3 the Foleo Fanatics seal of approval for Palm Desktop 6.2.

My testing also verified that Palm OS devices, including the Palm Vx, Tungsten T, and the Sony Clie NZ-90 could not be synchronized to Palm Desktop 6.2. These devices could be synchronized with Microsoft Outlook however; an option that will cost customers an additional $110 or more if they don’t already have a copy installed on their PC.

Taking this information into consideration, my final recommendation on the situation was to use Palm Desktop 6.2 on Vista if you had one of the officially or unofficially supported devices. If you had an older device, I recommended that customers just stick with Palm Desktop 4.1 or 4.2.

Pimlico Software to the Rescue

Pimlico Software, a long time player in third-party application development for the Palm OS platform, earlier this month has released a free desktop utility that adds support for older Palm OS devices to Palm Desktop 6.2. By flipping some switches in the complex Windows Registry, a database of sorts where Microsoft keeps lots of settings for your PC, Pimlico turns on synchronization support for the older PIM applications: Address Book, Date Books, Memo Pad, and To-Do List.

This is fantastic news for Palm customers who have gotten amazing longevity out of their Palm handhelds running Palm OS 3.5 and later. With Windows XP no longer available to consumers who purchase a new PC from big box retailers like Best Buy and Circuit City, Pimlico’s software gives these customers a way to continue using their favorite Palm with Windows Vista. (There are issues with Palm Desktop 4.x and 6.x on Vista. Read about your options here and then pick your poison.)

Pimlico’s easy to use solution takes the risk and pain out of turning on, or off, the ability to sync with older devices. The contributions by Pimlico and others, offer customers the much-needed tools, tweaks, and fixes that manufactures are unable or unwilling to provide users with.

This is why I believe that third-party application developers are so critical to any computing environment.
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