Expected to ship to hardware licensees this fall and developers shortly thereafter, Palm OS 6.0 will allow multiple applications to run in the background while the user is working on another task, said officials at PalmSource, in Sunnyvale, Calif. Such capabilities are already available in Microsoft Corp.s Pocket
PC operating system and Symbian Ltd.s Symbian OS.
"There are big improvements in the architecture that make it easier to use multiple threads," said Dave Fedor, director of development architecture and disclosure at PalmSource. "There will be multithreading within their applications as well as [the ability to] run something in the background."
Palm OS 5.0 did provide background thread capability for sound recording and playback, meaning users could listen to the MP3 player and enter data into the calendar at the same time. The system also supports Exchange Manager, which allows certain applications to send objects to other applications. But third-party developers have wanted true multithreading, especially for remote access applications, and they are glad to hear it will be part of Palm OS 6.0.
"A core element provides communication and—ideally—background communication," said Joe Owen, chief technology officer of XcelleNet Inc., an Alpharetta, Ga., maker of remote management software for handheld devices. "Customers want these things to happen. If you have a multitasking environment, its easy to push information to that device without interrupting use."