ULocate Launches Where on Palm Pre

Most eyes in the mobile industry are on San Francisco today, where Apple unveiled the latest version of its smart phone platform, the $199 iPhone 3GS, at its Worldwide Developer Conference. But that hasn’t diminished the buzz around Palm’s newest phone, the $200 Palm Pre, which hit stores on Saturday and has already sold at least 100,000 units. One of the leading apps for the Pre, a collection of location-driven software widgets called Where, comes from Boston’s own uLocate.

Like the iPhone, Symbian, and Blackberry versions of Where, the version that uLocate developed for the Pre’s webOS operating system taps into the device’s built-in GPS capability to provide location-specific data such as weather forecasts, news, restaurant reviews, movie showtimes, and nearby Starbucks locations. It’s currently the 5th most popular app in the Palm Pre’s App Catalog, according to Lacy Garcia, uLocate’s director of marketing and communications. (At this early stage in the Pre’s life, though, there are fewer than two dozen apps in the catalog altogether.)

Browsing local movies in Where on the Palm PreBut one unique feature of Where on the Palm Pre—thanks to a webOS communications feature called Palm Synergy—is the ability to weave localized content into the device’s personal-organizer apps. For example, users can insert showtimes for local movies directly into their calendars.

“Palm has done a great job with webOS, and has allowed us to integrate the features that our consumers love about WHERE with the functions of the device such as calendar and contacts,” Walt Doyle, CEO of uLocate, said in a statement. “This integration has helped us deliver a very rich user experience.”

Preparing the Where package of applications for the Pre was “a breeze,” thanks to webOS, according to Dan Gilmartin, uLocate’s vice president of marketing. “As the leader in the mobile application space, we think it is important to make the Where application available to users on all platforms,” Gilmartin says. “With their long history in mobile, we believe that Palm will continue to create great devices, and the Pre is no exception…We think that users will be very happy with Where on the Pre and this latest release will build upon our leadership in the mobile local arena. ”

The Palm Pre, which is available for the Sprint network in the United States, has both a touch screen and a pull-out keyboard. It’s widely considered to be the make-or-break device for the Sunnyvale, CA, device maker, which transformed the smart phone industry with the Treo in 2002 but has found itself overshadowed in recent years by competitors such as Apple. In other Palm Pre news, our Seattle team reported today on new entertainment apps from Microsoft spinoff Zumobi.

Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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