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iOS finally gets Palm compatibility

As long as apps are wrapped up warm

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Love the iPhone, but still in love with Palm OS? You can have it all as StyleTap is standing ready to wrap up your Palm OS apps with an Apple-friendly iOS coating.

The StyleTap wrapper is like a one-application emulator, bundling an instance of Palm OS with every application to work around Apple's draconian restrictions, but it does mean that those struggling on with legacy applications which only run on Palm OS can at least get some decent hardware to run them on.

StyleTap's main product is a Palm emulator, allowing Palm apps to run on Windows Mobile and Symbian handsets. But emulators aren’t allowed on the iTunes store as they create an alternative distribution mechanism, so StyleTap for iOS has hitherto been limited to jailbroken devices. But as the rules get more relaxed, StyleTap has launched a wrapper which can be compiled with a Palm OS app to create a single binary ready for submission to Apple.

One wonders how many essential Palm applications there are still out there, but StyleTap makes a decent living creating emulators for them and assures us there are plenty of customers still locked into their software. Our own motivation was that Palm had the only decent mobile version of the strategic game Go, but these days GOdroid (the Android Go app) stands ready to humiliate humans at a moment's notice and one might imagine that most Palm apps would have been rendered similarly redundant.

But StyleTap isn't really for generic apps, it's for all those vertical markets which deployed Palm apps that are still working perfectly. Many of those apps are now running on Windows Mobile and Symbian, thanks to StyleTap, but as those platforms die off those customers are looking to bring their apps to the next, next, generation of mobile OS.

StyleTap isn't promising that wrapped applications will get Apple approval, though the precedents are good: Apple is increasingly tolerant of emulators as long as there's no application distribution built in, and the rules about all iOS apps having to be written in Objective C haven’t been enforced for ages.

StyleTap is also not talking about pricing, wanting to understand customer requirements (and perhaps run an app or two past Apple) before agreeing a licence price, but if you have a Palm OS app that you're desperate to get working on your iPhone 4, then you can get in touch with them here. ®

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