What's Missing from WebOS 1.3.1 for the Palm Pre

I thought it’s a good time to put together a quick list of what’s still missing from WebOS. It’s been fully five months since the Pre was released, with quite a few updates all the way to 1.3.1. Still waiting for word from developers on any new core functionality that’s been added, but today we’re still explicitly missing (in no particular order):

  • Video recording: I’m not sure how they’d add video recording at this point, given the platforms underlying performance issues. Video recording on the Palm Pre would be a nice feature, certainly, allowing for quick ad hoc video pretty much anywhere (we all carry our Pre with us everywhere we go, right?), but I personally don’t consider this a critical feature. Others certainly disagree.
  • Audio recording: I’m surprised this one’s not available yet, and hopefully the API to enable audio recording applications on the Pre will be released soon. The ability to take quick voice notes as an adjunct to general notetaking, along with recording phone interviews, meetings, etc., is the one thing I miss from my previous Windows Mobile phones. The lack of microphone√ā¬†support is also hindering some other nice functionality, such as a Shazam app for music recognition.
  • GPU Support: Core OS support for the relatively powerful graphics processing unit (GPU) on the Pre is holding back performance and the development of more advanced games on the Pre. While I’m not a big mobile gamer, usually playing simple puzzle games and 2D games while away from my PCs, I do look forward to the day when the user interface (UI) is accelerated by the GPU. I remember back in the day when Windows was first released, when display adapters were simple frame buffers with no acceleration features. When the first graphics accelerators were released, Windows became a much more enjoyable and productive environment throughout. WebOS would be a much more pleasurable and powerful experience with low-level GPU support, and I’m betting this is a priority for Palm’s development efforts.
  • Flash support: A Flash beta is due any day now from Adobe, with a full release promised sometime in the first half of 2010. If it’s not somehow crippled, I can imagine things like Hulu support on the Pre, which for me would be perhaps the single greatest addition. Also, Flash would enable a new way to develop higher performing applications, particularly considering that Flash will almost certainly rely on the GPU even if the latter isn’t yet fully supported on the Pre.
  • More complete syncing support: The ability to sync notes and tasks may or may not ever be released by Palm, but the inability to do so (outside of tasks sync via EAS) makes these apps less than useful. Third parties such as Mark/Space and Companionlink are preparing to release their own notes and task sync capabilities, but this really needs to be done via the cloud. With Google offering standalone tasks for a few months now, its suprising that this capability isn’t offered via this mechanism, but nevertheless it’s sorely missed.

Certainly, WebOS could benefit from some fleshing out, such as making the Tasks app more robust (e.g., allowing custom alarms, etc.), but those seem at first glance to be the most important missing features. The Pre offers most everything else that a modern smartphone can do, and WebOS is arguably (and increasingly recognized as) the most usable and elegant smartphone operating system. If each of these features were already available and fully functional, Palm would have the most powerful platform on the market, but without them the Pre and Pixi are hamstrunged. Patience is a virtue in this context, but Palm doesn’t have forever to bring WebOS up to speed.

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