New Features in Palm OS 4.0 and the m50x Series

Expansion capabilities in Palm OS 4.0

  • Most expansion devices are secondary storage, and provide a traditional filesystem storage
  • Secondary storage: not like built in databases
  • Different physical characteristics, so different API
  • Pretty similar user experience
  • Palm OS apps are copied into main RAM when running (just like on a desktop), and are automatically removed when they quit

Palm OS Expansion Highlights

  • Hot insertion and removal of multiple cards
  • Architecture can support various media types
  • Support for the FAT 12/ 16 filesystem standard
  • Basic support for custom I/ O applications
  • Supports multiple cards in one device
  • Extends HotSync ® API to provide access to expansion filesystem
  • If device is locked when auto-launch application is launched, user is prompted for security password prior to launch of start .prc
  • Ability to install Apps directly to expansion card using new Install Tool
Palm Install Tool Enhancements
  • Support for “non - Palm” filetypes (. jpeg, .mp3, etc.)
Dual Expansion Architecture advantages (SD slot & Serial/USB interface)
  • Allows for wearable devices with expansion
  • Based on a robust industry standard (supported by 153 companies)
  • Interoperable with other consumer devices
  • I/ O capable
  • Fast transfer rate 10MB/sec
  • USB capable
Why Palm choose SD and MMC for the Dual Expansion Architecture:
  • Size (Think: postage stamp)
  • I/ O (for Bluetooth, Ethernet, modems, cameras, etc.)
  • Security (supports digital rights management)
  • Flexibility (used in cameras, video recorders, MP3’s, etc.)
  • Open platform (no licensing fees = lots of third-party solutions)
  • Cost (less expensive media because of volume)
SD Cards information
  • Small form, Open Standard
  • SDMI version 2.0 compliance SDMI version 2.0 compliance
  • 10MB/ sec data transfer rate (vs. CF 2.2MB/ sec data transfer rate (max))
  • Physical Write-protect tab on card casing
  • High storage capacity (est. >1GB by 2002)
  • Forward Compatibility between MultiMedia Card and future SD hosts
  • Robust - High electrostatic- discharge tolerance
  • Ability to add miniature I/ O devices – Bluetooth, GPS, Digital Camera, MP3 player, Modem, Bar-Code Scanner, Bottle Opener, Electronic Screwdriver, Laser Pointer, Cell Phone, FSR Radio, FM Tuner, OCR Scanner,
  • ROM versions for low - cost distribution
Universal Connector Expansion device for existing Palm handhelds
  • Common electrical and mechanical interface for peripherals
  • Enables broad range of accessories over a large portfolio of Palm products
  • Enables plug - and - play convenience
  • USB connectivity for faster transfers
  • RS232 connectivity to simplify interfacing
  • Serial rates up to 230 Kbaud
  • EDK ensures ease of development
  • UI changes to encourage use, and make applications more strict about security
  • Undo masking for just one record
  • Event alarms require password to show details
  • Password hint field is provided for user
  • Can set Auto - lock at time, or after idle
  • System changes to prevent easy circumvention when device is locked:
  • Can’t connect debugger (reboot or shortcut… 1 & 2)
  • Can’t perform HotSync operation
  • Can’t receive beam
  • Delays running auto - start applications
New Attention UI
  • Gather multiple items into a list
  • Global Snooze now possible
  • “Go To” button
  • “Clear All” button
  • Most of the display is controlled by the application requesting attention
I was crusing the web recently and came across a whole lot of new information about Palm OS 4.0 and the new Palm m50x series and I thought I would tell everyone here about it. Enjoy! -PalmZealot

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Previous Palm Applications?

EGarrido @ 3/9/2001 6:47:18 PM #
I went over it twice and I might be missing something, but is it known if Palm Apps that worked on previous OS versions, Palm OS 3.5 for example, will work on new devices with Palm OS 4.0?


RE: Previous Palm Applications?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/9/2001 6:58:14 PM #
Of course. Any properly-written application written for any past version of the Palm OS will run on all versions thereafter. The ones that break are the ones that deviate from standard Palm OS programming practices, and those using undocumented features that are subject to change.

RE: Previous Palm Applications? and NO 16-bit Color!
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/9/2001 8:18:05 PM #
I flashed the 4.0 beta onto my IIIc and all the programs I tried worked fine, except for Quickbits, which ran the speed tests okay, but wouldn't turn on its acceleration features. By the way, I did NOT get 16-bit color on my IIIc with OS 4.0. I appears that the IIIc is limited to 8-bit color by something in the hardware, perhaps the chip that drives the LCD screen.

RE: Previous Palm Applications?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/9/2001 8:50:55 PM #
I could not flash any of the 4.0 images onto my IIIc, how did you accomplish this and which version ROM did you use?

The IIIC's hardware can only display 8 bit.

RE: Previous Palm Applications?
atrizzah @ 3/9/2001 11:10:23 PM #
Your supposed to use the OS 3.3 upgrade tool i think, although i haven't had any luck with it

Peace Out
RE: Previous Palm Applications?
PalmZealot @ 3/10/2001 12:36:57 AM #

Sorry for the somewhat brief previous post about what the new Palm OS 4 can handle.

Palm OS 4.0 will handle any program that will run Palm OS 3.5. That is to say that if someone's program that was written for any prior version to 3.5 that worked in 3.5 will work in 4.0.
If the program doesn't work in 3.5, then it certainly won't work in 4.0.

Also, 4.0 will actually have support for 24-bit color (roughly 16.7 million colors), but the hardware will have to support 24-bit color. The hardware in the Palm IIIc wasnot designed to handle 24-bit color.

I hope this helps clear up some confusion. Please feel free to ask me any questions, and I will try to asnswer them.

RE: Previous Palm Applications?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/10/2001 8:52:09 AM #
Is the Palm 4.0 OS ROM Beta available to the general public for download?

RE: Previous Palm Applications?
PalmZealot @ 3/11/2001 5:48:05 PM #
To my knowledge, No, Palm OS 4.0 beta is not publicly available. However, it maybe possible to find it available on the web if one were to jump through certian hoops and answer certian 'questions'.

RE: Previous Palm Applications?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/22/2001 11:52:47 AM #
I checked on the Palm website and the OS 4.0 is only available for the new M50x series. That sure is rude to leave the legacy Palms that aren't all that old in the dust. Do they plan on releasing a 4.0 for IIIxe models? Where can I get the beta for 4.0?

RE: Previous Palm Applications?
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/12/2001 2:35:49 PM #
anyone tried using flash pro? It won't work after I
upgrade to os4. AND I really do need those extra spaces so I went back to 3.5.

RE: Previous Palm Applications?
I.M. Anonymous @ 4/13/2001 4:09:42 PM #
palm's site says they will offer 4.0 to users of older model's this summer... it took a minute or two of digging...

RE: Previous Palm Applications?
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/21/2001 2:01:17 AM #
1) from my experiance, all new versions of palm OS can accomidate all programs originally written for the older OS. there are exceptions, of course.

2) os 4.0 is being released like XP is. its coming on new models (very new models), and will be available to actually buy later. of course, its already out on the internet, just do some searching


I.M. Anonymous @ 3/9/2001 7:22:40 PM #
Source? Is this a rumor or has this been published by Palm Inc,?

RE: source?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/9/2001 8:31:10 PM #
this is all public knowledge available via, for those who don't have provider pavillion access.

RE: source?
PalmZealot @ 3/10/2001 12:44:12 AM #
Yes, its true - most of this information is publicly available on the web, but I was surprised that considering how long it has been publicly available and no one came forward with this information.

I figured that if no one was going to post this information, then no one must apparently know that all this information is 'freely' available!

Remember, this is the WWW, and you can find almost anything if you just look

One would be surprised at what could be found on the web if one only looked.

RE: source?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/10/2001 7:56:13 AM #
PalmZealot, I rely on palminfocenter to provide this information – other wise what would be the purpose of palminfocenter. I visit palminfocenter many times everyday, because I do not have time to browse the web for palm related information regarding news about their products.


RE: source?
PalmZealot @ 3/11/2001 6:09:06 PM #
Michael, If you have enough time to visit PalmInfoCenter severl times a day, then you certainly have time to follow some of the links and posts by other to check them out for yourself if you chose to do so - its simply a matter of investigation for information. Its people like us, the investigators, that provide PalmInfoCenter with the information you're looking to find here on PIC. It all boils down to - if you have enough time in your day to come here to PIC, then you certainly have enough time to find anything else out on the web. Have you ever used a search engine to fing ANYTHING on the web? Try it sometime, you'll be suprised what you find.

RE: source?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/13/2001 8:26:07 PM #
Good advise, there a wealth of information at your fingertips

RE: source?
Ed @ 3/14/2001 1:12:56 AM #
I'm trying to create a site that groups as much of the Palm-related news into one place as possible. I enjoy surfing Web for the very latest Palm info but I then turn around and post everything I think is significant on here so that everyone doesn't have to do this, too.

Michael, thanks for being a loyal reader.

Palm Infocenter


I.M. Anonymous @ 3/9/2001 10:31:06 PM #
do u think us w\ the 'old' palms(III ,V,VII) will be able to get OS 4. Can we buy the new ROM chips
RE: ?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/9/2001 11:06:12 PM #
If they decide to release it for the older models it will come as a FLASH upgrade. No need to buy new hardware/chips.

Anxiously awaiting builds so I can use 4.0 on my IIIc and Vx.

I heard Kyocera is already working on 4.0 for their smartphone.

RE: ?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/10/2001 5:20:32 AM #
I thought the new OS would occcupy more than 2 Megs.

RE: ?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/10/2001 7:52:09 AM #
The full OS is certainly bigger than 2 megs. But why include the stuff for the SD slot on the ROMs for the older devices? Certain features will be cut out so the images will fit on older devices. (If Palm decides to make it available to them.)

RE: ?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/10/2001 5:23:11 PM #
Several of the 4.0 testing ROM images are smaller than 2MB. Since Palm showed 4.0 running on Palm Vx devices at PalmSource, I'm fairly sure they will have an upgrade version for the older, flashable devices.

I've got it installed on mine (PalmV) and
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/10/2001 8:31:26 PM #
it looks like OS3.5. It works much faster and has better calculator and daytime saving functions

RE: OS 4.0 Download
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/11/2001 3:46:46 PM #
will someone please, please post an address where i can download OS 4.0....

RE: OS 4.0 beta availability
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/13/2001 5:24:25 PM #
Palm OS 4.0 beta can often be found on netnews at:


RE: ?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/14/2001 8:38:11 PM #
alt.binaries.warez.palmpilot? that link didnt it a .com at the end? if so that brought up a site but it didnt have the os 4.0. PLEASE HELP!

RE: ?
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/16/2001 2:07:53 PM #
who hosts this newsgroup, all the usual places I know do not, please help


External Memory

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/10/2001 9:43:59 AM #
Does "Secondary storage: not like built in databases" mean that it will act as transparent secondary memory or work like the Sony does with having to transfer everything back and forth? Thanks.


RE: External Memory
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/10/2001 10:04:34 AM #
Good Question. I'm hyped about the new Palms too, but if they handle the expansion memory just like Sony handles the memory stick, then they will be just as worthless as the Sony.

RE: External Memory
Ed @ 3/10/2001 10:45:02 AM #
Well, a bit later it says, "Palm OS apps are copied into main RAM when running (just like on a desktop), and are automatically removed when they quit ." That seems to mean that an app that is on an SD card can be opened directly from there without first having to manually copy it over. However, what is really happening is that the app is being automatically transferred to the Palm's regular memory and run from there. This means that you can't run an app that is larger than your available built-in memory on the Palm.

At least that's the way I read this.

Palm Infocenter

RE: External Memory
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/10/2001 11:14:05 AM #
Thanks for your response. Does it handle databases linked to a program in the same manner? I plan on running multiple large databases (sometimes > 4MB) but the reader program that runs it is only 40K or so. Do you think the database will launch immediately if stored on the external memory with the reader on main memory or will it take a while to copy over? I'll buy one anyway because I need the storage but it'd be nice if it was just invisible to the user when it accessed external memory. Sorry if I didn't understand your post completely before and thanks for your help.


RE: External Memory
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/10/2001 12:03:28 PM #
After reading through all the PalmSource slides, etc. it seems it won't be tough to read/access material from an expansion card. Databases can be marked to be copied over or not, at the developers option.

Adapting a reader type application to read directly from the VirtualFileSystem is easy, in fact I'm almost able to do it from scratch and I'm a complete amateur at Palm development. I have no doubt that the "name-brand" reader applications will be updated with native expansion support in the days leading up to the release of PalmOS 4.

Kudos to Palm on the nice API design, I think people will adapt very quickly to expansion. Real expansion on the Palm platform has been a long time in coming! :)

RE: External Memory
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/10/2001 1:05:34 PM #
yeah, but the TRGPRO already has the AutoCF program that will allow existing programs to automatically access data on a CF card, surely Palm could come up with something similar with all their resources???
If not, it's just as bad as the CLIE!

RE: External Memory
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/10/2001 1:07:35 PM # is COMPLETELY different from the CLIE! Palm's expansion system allows for true storage and i/o (like modems/network/camera/etc.) It is not anything like the sony memory stick expansions that exist right now.

You do not have to copy everything into RAM to read a database at all. Every decent app will be updated to support expansion. It is just a few lines of code for basic integration.

If they were to take the TRG route and hack together expansion rather than make it an integral part, what motivation would developers have to move from their current ways to a real expansion/filesystem?

I think Palm is making the right decision, it is about time we get something that the PocketPCs have had for a long time.

RE: External Memory
mikecane @ 3/10/2001 1:48:00 PM #
But what about opening a DB file saved on SD, modifying it, and then EXITING the app or DB -- will the PalmOS filesystem do an *automatic* Save As overwrite of the SD file? Pocket PC handles external storage transparently, and it is my wish that this will be the case with PalmOS 4 as well. I know many CLIE owners are clamoring for such a feature!

RE: External Memory
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/10/2001 2:00:22 PM #
PalmOS4 works exactly like the PocketPC in this regard- to use external storage developers simply add a few lines to look at the storage card / file system beyond the internal ram.

You would never even have to copy the DB over to ram if you didn't want to.

Now one thing I do am /not/ sure about is whether the new PalmOS4 expansion routines apply strictly to their SD slots, or whether Sony is going to adapt them to memory stick.

RE: External Memory
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/10/2001 2:50:23 PM #
Would there be any reason to copy a DB to main memory (is there a speed difference)? If it does work seamlessly then the m505 will rock!

RE: External Memory
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/10/2001 2:53:45 PM #
Well, of course there's gonna be some kind of speed difference when accessing stuff that's in RAM vs. in a storage card.

Is it enough to notice or care? Probably not. The SD setup has plenty of bandwidth.

I look and see the people bragging about their PocketPCs with 32megs of memory. In comparison, I usually have the same amount of information- if not more- stored in my Palm apps with my 8meg. Imagine a 32meg card in a Palm. How much information is that? It blows my mind...

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