First Take: Palm OS Cobalt 6.1

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Palm OS Cobalt 6.1
PalmSource has announced a revision of its wireless-focused Cobalt operating system at its European Developer Conference in Munich.

PalmSource is pushing Cobalt 6.1 as the foundation for smartphones and new categories of wireless mobile devices. Many of the enhancements to the original Palm OS Cobalt seek to strengthen Cobalt's appeal to device manufacturers and network operators, enabling faster hardware production and easier customisation.

PalmSource announced three new hardware manufacturing licensees, GSPDA, Inventec Appliances Corp. (IAC) and Portable Innovation Technology Limited (PiTech). These companies manufacture hardware to license on to others -- network operators, for example -- who can then concentrate on differentiating the devices for their own markets.

Palm OS Cobalt 6.1 supports display resolutions up to 640 by 480 (VGA), in both portrait and landscape modes.

Cobalt 6.1 includes support for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, as well as GSM and GPRS. The operating system also supports SDIO, allows both one-handed and five-way navigation within and between applications, and introduces a new Preferences application that enables users to maintain and manage multiple settings.

Cobalt 6.1 has a new look that includes icons for signal strength and battery life. Importantly for hardware manufacturers seeking to create new form factors, the OS supports QVGA (240 x 320), HVGA (320 x 480) and VGA (640 x 480) display resolutions in both landscape and portrait orientations.