Sherlock Holmes Mysteries

I was looking up the features of Apple’s QuickTime Pro for Windows (yes, this is work related) and I noticed a small ad in the QuickTime Player window for Sherlock Holmes Mysteries, a game for the iPhone and iPod touch.

Clearly a tie-in to the movie now playing in theaters, skimming through some of the screen shots in the iTunes App Store you get the impression that this is a cool game to play. Best of all, Sherlock Holmes Mysteries is only $0.99 meaning that if the game isn’t what you expected, you’re out less than the cost of a gourmet coffee!

I’m definitely going to check this game out over the weekend. For more information about Sherlock Holmes Mysteries, check out the iTunes Store.

[Updated article with pictures from the game.]

Up Next for Review: Sprint Palm Pixi

Upon my return home from work today I was greeted by a small package from Palm. Contained inside was my loaner Sprint Palm Pixi (not the new Palm Pixi Plus announced today at CES). Keep an eye out for my review of the tiny sibling to the Sprint Palm Pre smartphone next week. Until then, here is photo of the unboxed Pixi.

For more details on the Palm Pixi for the Sprint network, please visit the Palm website.

Palm CES Coverage

The 2010 Consumer Electronics Show is under way in Las Vegas this week and Palm has used the event to make a big splash with the media and their customers. Here’s a run down of what Palm has been up to!

Palm 2010 CES Presentation Video and Highlights

PreCentral has posted Palm chairman and chief executive officer Jon Rubinstein’s CES presentation for your viewing pleasure if you are like me and somehow managed to not make it out to Las Vegas this year. The highlights of the presentation include:

  • Palm makes the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus official, Verizon only, and with tethering
  • Pre coming to SFR in France
  • webOS 1.4 coming in February with built-in Flash 10.1, Video recording
  • Palm reveals open web distribution of webOS apps

To check the video, head over to the PreCentral website.

New Phones, Wireless Carriers Announced

Many people will be happy to hear that Palm and Verizon Wireless will finally be bringing Palm webOS phones to market. Starting on January 25, Big Red customers will have their choice of the newly reformulated Palm Pre and Pixi smartphones known as the Palm Pre Plus and the Palm Pixi Plus. Why “Plus?” The Plus refers to the refinements over the older versions of the Pre and Pixi smartphones already available on the Sprint network.

The Palm Pre Plus will sport 16GB of RAM and a more streamlined form factor. As far as I can tell at this point, that simply means that the center has been removed from the front fo the Palm Pre Plus. Rather than use the Center button to zoom in/out from card view, you can simply flick up from the gesture area to zoom out of a card and then tap on the card you want to zoom back into full screen. The removal of the Center button is just one less thing that can break on the Pre form factor body and I welcome the change. And unlike the Sprint edition, the Verizon Wireless Palm Pre Plus ditches the glossy back plate battery door for the slick matte finished Touchstone charging battery door. Even if you don’t plan on getting the super cool Touchstone charging dock, in my opinion, the matte finish of the Touchstone battery door is much easier to hold than the slippery gloss finish door.

The new Palm Pixi Plus uses the same body form factor as the older Sprint edition, however, the Verizon Pixi Plus will include an 802.11b/g Wi-Fi radio. (Shame on you Sprint for not allowing Wi-Fi in your Pixi!)

Verizon customers will also have access to a new App Catalog application called Mobile Hotspot that will allow the Pre Plus or Pixi Plus to act as a cellular Wi-Fi router allowing other near by Wi-Fi enabled device, like a netbook, to gain access to the Internet over the Pre or Pixi’s EVDO cellular connection. Up until now, this was a trick reserved for devices like the Verizon Mi-Fi card. Kudos for Verizon for allowing their customers to share their data connections this way.

Palm will also continue to grow their presence overseas in the second quarter of the year when they bring Palm webOS phones to France on the SFR wireless network.

The last remaining question for US customers is when will Palm webOS devices be launched on AT&T? For right now, there is no official word from Palm on when webOS phones will appear on AT&T, however, Engadget has posted an article stating that AT&T’s President and CEO, Ralph de la Vega, has gone on the record claiming that by the middle of the year, they will be carrying two unnamed Palm webOS devices. You’ll have to stay tuned for the next few months until more details emerge on the AT&T front.

For more details on Palm’s newest smartphones, visit the Palm blog.

Here Come the 3D Games!

Today Palm also unveiled 7 3D games specifically written to take advantage of the special graphics processor, called a GPU, inside the Palm Pre and Pre Plus smartphones. Combining the GPU, the new software development kit, released in beta form, and the software under pinning that are in the recently released Palm webOS 3.5.1 update, Pre customers can now play games on their smartphones that look just and play just as good as the games on Apple’s iPhone.

Starting today, and via the Palm App Catalog, you can purchase and download the following 3D games:

  • “Need for Speed Undercover” (EA Mobile)
  • “The Sims 3” (EA Mobile)
  • “MONOPOLY” (EA Mobile)
  • “Asphalt 5: Elite Racing” (Gameloft)
  • “Let’s Golf!” (Gameloft)
  • “Glyder 2” (Glu Mobile)
  • “X-Plane” (Laminar Research)

I’m excited about Palm’s enabling of the GPU found in the Palm Pre and Pre Plus as it means that Pre customers no longer have to feel like second class citizens in the world of mobile gaming. While I looking forward to playing some of these games (I already purchased a copy of Monopoly this evening), I am still looking forward to playing games like Bejeweled and all of the great card and board games from Astraware, the games division of Handmark.

To learn more about today’s announcement of the new 3D games for the Palm Pre and Pre Plus smartphones, visit the Palm website.

Ready! Set! Develop!

Lastly, Palm announced that the Palm Developer Center is now out of beta status and open to any application developer who wishes to write applications for the Palm webOS platform. Palm also announced that developers will have a choice of selling their applications through the Palm App Catalog or promote their applications by themselves, yet, they can still leverage the Palm over the air (OTA) distribution and installation service.

This is great news for the legions of web developers out there who know how to write HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code because, as I’m told, those three languages make up the bulk of the application development foundation for webOS applications.

For developers who are looking to write games and other applications that take advantage of the 3D rendering hardware and software found in webOS devices, like the Pre and Pre Plus, Palm is making the Palm webOS Plug-In Development Kit (PDK) available for use with the standard webOS Software Development Kit (SDK). According to Palm’s press release, “[w]ith the PDK, developers can seamlessly integrate C and C++ code into their webOS apps, enabling new functionality such as 3D games.”

Developers who wish to further explore the possibilities of the Palm webOS platform should visit the Palm Developer Center website.

Google’s Nexus One Goes Live

Google’s Nexus One smartphone has gone live and the details of the new phone have been posted on the Google website. Some of the key features include:

  • 3.7-inch 800×400 pixel WVGA touchscreen
  • 5MP digital camera with auto-focus and LED flash
  • UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA/GSM/EDGE cellular radio
  • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • 1400mAh removable battery
  • Android 2.1 Eclair mobile operating system
  • 512MB of RAM and Flash memory
  • 4GB microSD card included, support for upto 32GB microSD cards
  • Assisted GPS receiver and digital compass

Pricing and Availability

The new Google Nexus One is available now as an unlocked phone directly from Google for $529.00. You can also purchase the phone from T-Mobile for as low as $179.00 when you subscribe to a qualifying voice and data plan. Google is also reporting that the Nexus One will be coming to Verizon Wireless and Vodafone during the spring of 2010. No specific dates or pricing has been announced for Verizon or Vodafone at this time.

For more pricing and availability, visit the Google online store.

Palm webOS 1.3.5.1 Update Released

Following just 7 days behind the webOS 1.3.5 update, Palm has released the Palm webOS 1.3.5.1 update. This update, according to Palm, is attended to address a very specific bug in the Calendar application when data is synchronized with a Microsoft Exchange Server.

The release notes for the latest webOS update states:
“This release fixes an issue in which the Calendar app displayed no events for any account after a user synchronized Calendar with an Exchange account. With this update, Calendar events now appear correctly after an Exchange sync.”

According to a KB article published by Palm on Jan. 3, the nature of the problem is “that the turn of the year [to] 2010 has surfaced an issue that affects customers who use Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) to synchronize their calendars. Data remains intact on the device; however, this issue prevents the data from being displayed correctly in the Calendar application. It impacts all versions of webOS.”

The Palm webOS 1.3.5.1 update is available for immediate download by using the Updates application on Sprint branded Palm Pre and Palm Pixi smartphones and will take about 10-15 minutes to install. Aside from resolving the issue with the Calendar application, there are no new changes between 1.3.5.1 and Palm webOS 1.3.5 which was released on December 28, 2009.

You can read the Palm webOS 1.3.5.1 release notes on the Palm webOS updates page. You can read the full Palm KB article on the Palm support website.

Motorola Enhances Keyboard on New Droid Phone

One of the things that I was complaining about in my recent Motorola Droid review was the way that the keyboard was setup on the Droid. Yes, the Droid has a full Qwerty keyboard, which is still better than an on-screen keyboard in my opinion, but the keyboard was essentially flat and it was hard to feel where one key was from the next.

In a photo that surfaced on Boy Genius Report over the weekend, it looks like Motorola is aiming to please by changing out and enhancing the keyboard in their next Google Android device, called the Motorola Droid Devour, which is headed to Verizon Wireless at some point this year.

[Via BoyGeniusReport.com…]

Classic Updated to Version 2.1.2 (UPDATED)

I just noticed that MotionApps Classic is showing an update to version 2.1.2 in the Palm App Catalog. I checked the MotionApps blog, however, there was no mention of the update. My guess is that the 2.1.2 update is a bug and/or performance update for Palm webOS 1.3.5. However, without any comments or release notes posted to the MotionApps website or blog, it is hard to know what exactly the latest update brings.
I have installed Classic 2.1.2 on my Pre with Palm webOS 1.3.5 and I am able to run DataViz Documents To Go 11 Premium and Passwords Plus without issue. Astraware Bejeweled 2 and Solitaire, the two games that I have loaded in Classic, are also working as expected.
To learn more about Classic, and how you can use your Palm OS applications on Palm webOS smartphones like the Palm Pre and the Palm Pixi, check out the MotionApps website.

UPDATE
The good folks over at Motion Apps have dropped me a line to clear up what is addressed in the 2.1.2 update to Classic.

“This was a regular release bringing stability improvements mostly, the one we’ve been waiting for quite a while, mostly because the issues Classic had after [Palm webOS] 1.3.1.”

So there you have it. Classic 2.1.2 is a maintenance update. If you haven’t already done so, you can download the latest update to Classic by using the Updates application on your Palm webOS smartphone.

CES 2010

The 2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is set to kick off on January 7 in Las Vegas. Since the focus of the show is consumers, CES starts on a Thursday and ends on a Sunday.

According to the CES website, there are over 600 technology companies from the West Coast in attendance and event organizers are expecting 110,000 attendees for the trade room floor and workshop sessions. Tickets to the event are $200.

For more information about this year’s CES event, please visit the CES website.

Rumors Aplenty

As usual for this time of year, there is a flurry of rumors about upcoming devices from a number of technology vendors. This year’s rumors include: HTC’s new touchscreen tablet device, Motorola’s expected announcement of two new smartphones, Google’s Nexus One smartphone press event on Jan. 5, with the device available from Google and T-Mobile.

Palm will also be at CES this year, however, it is expected that the focus will be on software development, and not on new device launches. However, there are those pesky Verizon Wireless Pre Plus and Pixi Plus rumors to deal with.

Apple won’t be at this year’s CES or MacWorld Expo events. Instead, it is widely rumored that Apple will hold their own press event on or around January 26th. Speculation is running wild in the face of mounting evidence that they will finally announce the table computer that has rumored to be under development for many years now.

[Via Boy Genius Report, Barron’s Tech Trader Daily, Gizmodo, PreCentral]