Just got a Palm phone? The best apps, accessories, and tips

So you nabbed a webOS device over the holidays? Maybe you got yourself a Pixi or Pre Plus, or if you were really lucky, someone dropped a Pre 2 in your stocking. We know that Palm isn't exactly ruling the roost when it comes to smartphones, but that doesn't mean that your new device isn't plenty powerful given the right apps and proper tweaks. In fact, webOS can stand toe-to-toe with the iOS and Android devices of the world, even if the selection of apps and hardware leaves something to be desired. So how do you turn your holiday cheer into a year-round workhorse? Read on after the break for the must-have apps, accessories, and more!

Must have apps

Twee2 ($2.99). The best and most comprehensive Twitter app for webOS has only gotten better. There are plenty of excellent choices in this department, but Twee stands above the rest by offering consistent notifications, great timeline management, and a smooth, clean interface that lets you concentrate on the important stuff, like @kanyewest.

Facebook (free). Actually the best mobile implementation of Facebook we've seen. In fact, we may prefer this to the site itself. Facebook for webOS provides a tremendous feature set with great little perks (like being able to whittle down your news feed to only certain groups), along with a user interface that's smart and sophisticated. With the latest update and webOS 2.0, the contact integration won't get in the way of having a good time, either.

Voogle ($1.99). If you're a Google Voice user, you need this app now. Sure, it's still missing a load of features, such as auto updating and notifications, but it's the only choice you've got for integrating Voice with your webOS device, and it does work pretty darn well. We'd like to see improvements come a little faster for the app, but making the switch to webOS is a lot more pleasant with Google Voice in tow, and Voogle makes that possible.

weatherIcon (free). The weather app that does what even the iPhone can't... display the current temperature on the homescreen. If you're like us, you usually just want to know whether it's time for a parka -- and weatherIcon makes that easy by providing the current temperature in your location (via GPS or address) right on the icon. The in-app info isn't bad either. Bonus? It's free!

Feeder ($2.99). Okay, it's a shameless Reeder knockoff for webOS -- but it's really quite good. Besides syncing with Google Reader, which is a must-have for us, you're given options for sharing via Google, Twitter, and you're given a handful of choices for reading later (though we'd like to see Read It Later and Instapaper here). Regardless, Feeder is a slick, handsome RSS reader that should make Google junkies very happy... and we're speaking from experience.

Wapedia (free). An oldie but goodie. Need to get some Wikipedia info fast? Wapedia is here for you. Sure, webOS provides super-simple searching options for all things Wiki in its universal search, but for getting compact info quickly, Wapedia is hard to beat.

Tumbly ($0.99). If you're a Tumblr user, you'll feel right at home in this app, which recreates the microblogging experience almost perfectly. While it's not jam packed with extra features, the application does an excellent job of letting you navigate Tumblr in a native webOS environment. If you end up discovering a lot of good material while you're out and about, Tumbly makes it easy to move that content onto your blog.

Pandora (free). A must-have on any platform, but Pandora on webOS truly shines. One of the first (and still one of the best) applications on the platform to show off just how good Palm's operating system is at multitasking. Besides streaming your favorite channels in the background, Pandora provides terrific pop-up controls via webOS's notification panels, making it a joy to quickly tell the cloud service what you're getting into... and want to get out of.

Angry Birds ($1.99). C'mon. It's Angry Birds. Don't make us come over there. Kiss your life goodbye.

Dropboxify ($2.99). Apparently Dropbox hasn't made a native client for webOS, but this is what it would act like if the company did. A perfect companion to your cloud file manager, Dropboxify does everything you'd expect it to, and looks great while doing it. We're not crazy about paying for an app that's free on most platforms, but developer DoGood stepped up to the plate (and knocked it out of the park) in a spot where the Dropbox team is nowhere to be found. Kudos!

DreamEngine Deluxe ($3.99). As you may or may not know, we're big Turbografx-16 fans. So imagine our excitement when we discovered that old school Palm developer KalemSoft brought its TG16 / PC-Engine emulator to webOS. While the app can be a little finicky (in fact, it's pretty buggy), and the interface isn't exactly stunning, being able to play our vast collection of legally collected ROMS on new Palm devices is kind of heavenly. Be sure to check out the company's NesEm as well for all your NES needs.

SuperNES (free) / VisualBoyAdvance ($5.00). Oh, do you prefer SNES or Gameboy games? Look no further.

Tanks ($0.99). Tron: Legacy still weighing heavily on your mind? Then you'll love this killer Battlezone clone for webOS. Smooth gameplay, great controls, and stunning retro vector graphics make this $0.99 title a must-have for exterminating boredom at any number of locations.

Gameloft titles (prices vary). Your iPhone-owning buddies aren't having all the fun. Gameloft (one of the largest game maker's for Apple's iOS platform) has ported a ton of its titles over to webOS, including The Oregon Trail, Dungeon Hunter, Earthworm Jim, Modern Combat: Sandstorm, and the weirdly enjoyable GTA clone, Gangstar: West Coast Hustle.

BeatBox (free). An amazing little drum sequencer that is extremely easy to pick up, but insanely hard to put down. Lots of sequence and pattern options, a decent amount of drum kits, and a bargain price tag (AKA free) make this a no-brainer.

wIRC / homebrew. We're big proponents of old school IRC, but until wIRC came along, using the service was pretty much out of the question on webOS. That's all changed now, but you'll have to get your phone set up for homebrew app usage. That's easy enough to do if you follow some of the handy guides out there (Precentral has a great one right here).

Not only will you find wIRC on homebrew channels, but there are lots of high quality titles available that you won't see in Palm's App Catalog. This community is definitely alive and kicking.

Great accessories

Touchstone ($49.99). C'mon -- you've got a Palm device, now you're required by law to show everyone how awesome inductive charging is. It's not cheap, but it's worth the dropped jaws from in-laws.

Gelaskins ($14.95). We're pretty psyched on the way the Pre looks with a skin on it. There are plenty to choose from here, but unfortunately no offerings for the Pre 2 just yet.

Second / extended battery. The Pre isn't know for its great battery life, so consider a second or extended battery. Seidio makes a slim 1350mAh model that should help you get a little more time in before a charge.

Tips and tricks
  • webOS utilizes a slew of keyboard shortcuts. Try hitting option (the orange or gray key) + sym + p to take a screenshot, or option + sym + r to reboot your device. Option + icon tap in the launcher will allow you to delete an app, or option + sym + i in an open card will give you stats on that process

  • Don't forget to add your most-used contacts to speed dial, so you can call your friends and family with a long press on the key that you've assigned

  • Copy and paste works just as you'd expect here -- after selecting text (shift + tap) use a combo of gesture area tap + a, c, v, and x for select all, copy, paste, and cut

  • In webOS 2.0, it can be helpful to group cards by use -- for instance, we like to keep Voogle grouped behind our phone dialer, so our voicemail and phone are in one place

  • Creating your own alert tones is super easy (as of version webOS 1.4) -- just create a folder full of your favorites beeps and buzzes, then customize via the Sounds & Ringtones app, or from individual apps that support the feature

The selections above are just a few of the apps, accessories, and tweaks that are out there. If you've got additional tips or ideas, sound off in comments below!