Palm's official webOS app store has come a long way. With only 30 apps available at the App Catalog's launch last June, there wasn't much for early Palm Pre owners to get excited about. Today, however, the App Catalog sports well over a thousand titles. That's a far cry from the iPhone's 150,000 applications, but there are plenty of apps for users of the Palm Pre and Pixi (available from Sprint) and the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus (available from Verizon) to choose from, and many of the best ones are free.
Note: Unlike Apple, Palm encourages the development of "unofficial" apps, which means there are a lot more webOS apps available through channels other than the official store. Installing these apps and dealing with them after an OS upgrade can be a little complicated, so we've focused on apps that are available via Palm's App Catalog for this story.
Here are 10 great free apps that should be running on every webOS phone. Add your own favorites to the article comments.
Longtime Palm users were disappointed that the new webOS contact manager didn't include any way to categorize contacts -- they're just dumped into one long alphabetical list. Super Contacts allows you to create multiple contact groups, categorized however you like, and contact people in each group either individually or all at once.
Customizable gestures can be assigned to each contact so that flicking an icon to the left opens, say, an e-mail, while flicking it to the right opens an SMS instead. To add to the mix, each group can be assigned the color of your choice.
The free version of Super Contacts allows you only three groups and only 12 contacts per group, which is plenty for everyday use; a $1.99 upgrade to Super Contacts Plus removes those limits and also eliminates the ads at the bottom of the screen.
Outline Tracker Free brings professional-quality project management to the Palm Pre and Pixi lines. As a personal project tracker, Outline Tracker Free implements David Allen's Getting Things Done methodology, letting you add multiple tasks to a project. When a task is completed, the next task pops up, walking you step-by-step through the project to its completion. Each upcoming task is placed into your Palm's calendar so you know what to do each day.
And because Outline Tracker Free also integrates with the online project manager Basecamp, its capabilities go far beyond just personal productivity. Using Basecamp, you can easily collaborate with clients, vendors or team members; changes are synced both ways at regular intervals (one hour by default) so that actions added or marked "done" on the Web are reflected in the Palm app and vice versa.
Outline Tracker Free is limited to 50 entries, enough for personal use or for small projects. There's also an unlimited paid version for larger collaborative projects available for $23.50.
Keep track of just about any kind of data you can think of with this deceptively simple database application. My DataBank allows you to create simple list databases (which it calls "Categories") that include text fields, numeric fields and "bit" fields (check boxes).
Lists and list items can be cloned and modified on the fly, so you can easily create new lists based on existing ones -- for instance, modifying a "Books" list to track "Albums" instead. The app comes preloaded with several lists, and you can download new ones by selecting "Share Categories" from the drop-down menu (where you can also upload your lists, without the data, for use by other people).
My DataBank can send data to several built-in webOS apps, including the browser, e-mail and text messaging, which means you can set up lists of e-mail contacts to "blast" e-mail to all at once, or lists of Web sites to open in separate cards (the webOS term for an open application window) with one click. Instructions are available from the app's Help screen or can be accessed online.
Like many free webOS apps, My DataBank is ad-supported; a $3.99 premium version removes the ads, enables landscape mode and increases the allowed number of records from 128 to as many as will fit in 500KB.