PalmSource to ditch Graffiti

Graffiti woz ere... but iz no more...
Written by Richard Shim, Contributor

Graffiti woz ere... but iz no more...

Ongoing legal battles and shifts in the handheld computer market have led Palm OS maker PalmSource to rethink its use of handwriting recognition software Graffiti. PalmSource is turning over a new leaf for handwriting recognition, replacing its idiosyncratic software amid a growth in popularity for keyboards in the handheld industry and amid a continuing patent battle with Xerox. The operating system subsidiary of handheld maker Palm announced yesterday that it has signed a licensing agreement with California-based Communication Intelligence to use its Jot handwriting recognition software - dubbed Graffiti 2, powered by Jot - in current and future versions of the Palm OS. The PalmSource move comes as the industry works to extend the scope of the handheld market to include more mainstream buyers, by introducing lower-cost models and by making the devices easier to use. Michael Higashi, a director of marketing at PalmSource, said: "People don't want to learn a new alphabet [when they purchase a new device]." One of the quirky yet endearing characteristics of the Palm OS has been the handwriting method that handheld owners had to learn in order to enter data into devices. For example, to write a "t" using Graffiti, the owner would have to write an upside-down "L." In Graffiti 2, a "t" can be written using the more conventional crossbar. However, the software can be trained to suit an owner's handwriting style, according to PalmSource. Grafitti 2 is already available to licensees such as Sony and Kyocera and will be embedded into version 5.2 and 4.1.2 of the Palm OS, said Higashi. It's up to the licensees as to when they will begin shipping devices that come with Graffiti 2 out of the box, he said. PalmSource made the switch to the new handwriting program for its more natural and intuitive operation, said Marlene Somsak, vice president of communications at Palm. However, the Xerox lawsuit did influence the move, she said. "The Xerox case did indeed have a role in our decision," said Somsak. "It prompted us to take a fresh look at the situation... Jot is the better choice as we look to grow the market." Somsak added that the Xerox lawsuit could go on for years and that even if Palm wins the case, it will not be going back to using the original Graffiti program in its operating system. Richard Shim writes for News.com
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