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Updated Google Maps For Palm Can Find Itself

One of the most intriguing new features in mobile-phone software is finally coming to Palm OS smartphones... make that, very few Palm OS smartphones. Six months after its debut on Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, Java-based and Symbian phones, a Palm version of Google Maps for Mobile's "location-aware" update arrived today.

This update eliminates the biggest annoyance of using map software on a phone: Telling it where you are when the phone should already know that. Instead, Google's software employs a phone's GPS receiver or analyzes nearby cellular towers' signals to estimate your position. (A software update for Apple's iPhone added the latter option to that gadget in January; the upcoming iPhone 3G will add a GPS-based self-locating feature.)

But almost nobody with a Palm OS smartphone can enjoy this new software at the moment. As Google notes in a blog posting, only Palm Centro phones can run this update, and among them only AT&T and Verizon Wireless Centros are compatible today. Sprint Centros -- which, by virtue of having been on the market since last fall, constitute the overwhelming majority of these devices in use -- won't be able to run it until a "software update expected this summer" ships.

That quirk makes the whole announcement a touch anti-climactic. But given the sorry state of Palm OS software development in general, you might as well applaud any sign of life in the Palm business.

Not having an AT&T or Verizon Centro to test, I can't say how well this software works. Can you? Share your experience in the comments.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  June 24, 2008; 12:21 PM ET
Categories:  Gadgets  
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It is with great sadness that I've given up on Palm after about a decade. I've now got a Blackberry. In many ways it is a step backwards, but Palm just wasn't getting it done.

Posted by: slar | June 24, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

I try to keep an open mind on technology. I appreciate Windows, Linux, Mac and others. I have used Palm's OS for years now. My Treo 700P recently died and I replaced it with a 700wx. I really tried to "like" it. But I just could not! Palm's Treo with Palm's OS, is just an easier to use device. It does what it is designed to do and I think it does it well. I moved back to the Treo 755p the other day and I love it. Palm must improve, innovate, listen and provide great products to stay viable. I hope they do. There is nothing else available today that is as easy to use and works so well.

Posted by: Jean | June 24, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Palm really needs to die and disappear. They had their chance, time to move on.

Posted by: res08hao | June 24, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

I have Google Maps on my BlackBerry 8800 from Verizon. The application says it can estimate my location to within 1700 meters, and draws a circle of that diameter. My actual location (Union Station) is about 1650 meters from the center of the circle, right near the edge. So it's not going to help much with directions.

Posted by: Falls Church | June 24, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

I have a brand new Palm Verizon model and just downloaded this new Google maps version and have been trying it out. It seems to work great, though of course it's not as accurate as a real GPS. But if you were in an unfamiliar area, trying to get a general fix on where you were within a half mile or so, it does the trick and quickly and easily. I like it.

I also love the Centro. Anyone who shells out the bucks for a Treo at this point is throwing money away since the Centro can do everything the Treo can do and in a smaller, more pocketable and WAY more affordable package. I'm really hoping the Centro's success keeps Palm going. I've been with them since the days of the first Palm Pilots and haven't found a really compelling reason to switch yet.

Posted by: LTG | June 24, 2008 6:30 PM | Report abuse

As a Sprint Centro user, I'm curious who to direct my irration towards: Google, Sprint, or Palm.

That being said, thanks for catching this Rob. I'd really love it if you do a similar post when the "summer software update" comes out.

Posted by: Almanac | June 25, 2008 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Works well on the Blackjack II. Not as accurate as the car GPS but its free and also has traffic info. Quick response to map moving, just a scroll away.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

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