Palm's webOS PDK beta adds Pixi native development, PDK'd apps will hit the Catalog mid year

We just sat down with Palm here at GDC and fished out a few more details on the PDK beta front. Firstly, and most interestingly, Palm has confirmed that the PDK now works on all of its handsets (instead of just the Pre and Pre Plus), which means Pixi buyers can stop hating themselves pretty soon. Apparently the level of performance degradation should be comparable iPhone 3G vs. 3GS, which doesn't sound too horrible. This is functionality that wasn't available even to Palm's early PDK partners like EA and Gameloft, so we should be seeing versions of existing games make the jump to the Pixi when the time for PDK beta-developed apps to hit the Palm App Catalog. When will that time come, you ask? The "middle of the year," or "a few months," whichever sounds more promising to you. Palm's not saying whether this new era for the App Catalog (anyone being able to release PDK apps, and those apps working on the Pre and the Pixi) will accompany a full-on webOS update, but it seems logical to us.

On a more technical front, we're told the PDK supports the Linux standard SDL (Simple DirectMedia Layer) to ease in porting and development (Unreal for Linux runs using SDL, for instance), and that developers could even build apps like an audio processor that rely on PDK components but don't show up in the UI at all, or OpenGL-empowered things that aren't necessarily games or in 3D. Also, existing developers have only been able to do "full screen" games that rely on PDK components alone, but the PDK beta lets you mix and match webOS UI with PDK elements. Currently there aren't many PDK games that use the extra Palm hardware like the QWERTY keyboard and the gesture area, but we're told that's all exposed to the developer, along with any other element of webOS that Mojo SDK users have access to. One notable plugin hangup is the fact that Flash only works in the browser, and can't be embedded into a regular webOS app, PDK or no -- though we have to assume this is something that's in the works.