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Apple Palm-based PDA to be closely tied to MacOS X

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Support for Apple's upcoming Palm-based PDA, samples of which are now coming off the production line, is to be build into MacOS X, according to company sources cited by MacOS Rumors. That would suggest the device will be announced sometime before the next-generation OS' ship date of next summer, probably in limited at next July's Macworld Expo in New York and in volume by early August. The PDA could be the highlight of CEO Steve Jobs' Macworld keynote, having been moved back to allow him to unveil between now and then all the hardware he was supposed to have announced last week. MacOS X's support for the PDA is said to centre on displaying the device's contents on the desktop as if it were a mounted hard drive, allowing data and software to be installed by drag and drop. Synchronisation will be automatic -- and, thanks to USB, fast. At this stage, the device is likely to use Palm's Palm Desktop software as its main personal information manager interface. While it's not beyond Apple's means to come up with an application of its own, why reinvent the wheel? The upshot of all this should be that existing Palm and Handspring Visor owners will be able to use their devices with MacOS X, the plan perhaps being not only to offer the best Palm-based handheld but provide PDA users with the best desktop experience too. In the days when the Palm machine was touted simply as an adjunct to a PC, that wasn't much of an issue, but now, in the increasingly mobile world, it's becoming a standalone platform in its own right and perhaps soon leading desktop purchases rather than following them, getting the desktop experience right has become much more important. As for the device itself, it's not hard to predict an iBook-esque version of Palm V: a slimline dual-colour case (with several main hues), USB for synching, MacOS-style interface buttons, support for Handspring's Springboard add-ons (since Springboard is essentially free to licence, Apple may as well use it) and possibly a colour screen now that the PalmOS and the platform's Dragonball CPU supports it. One final option is AirPort wireless networking, though it will be interesting to see whether the device's power supply would be up to the task, especially if the PDA does indeed ship with a colour screen. ®

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