Palm has tweaked the Palm Pre and launched the Palm Pre Plus. The new phone doesn't look much different to its predecessor, except that it's ditched the round home-screen button on the front.
The biggest difference in the Palm Pre Plus is on the inside. It doubles the storage of the Palm Pre from 8GB to 16GB, and it offers a new app called Palm mobile hotspot, which turns the Pre Plus into a wireless router, like the Novatel MiFi. The Pre Plus's hotspot creates a bubble of Wi-Fi to share the phone's Internet connection with up to five laptops, netbooks or other gadgets.
Palm also announced the Palm Pixi Plus, a similar refresh of the less expensive Palm Pixi, which isn't available in the UK. There's no news on when the Palm Pre Plus will come to the UK, but we had to wait several months to get the first Pre after it was released in the States, and the Pre Plus is landing there on 25 January.
Along with the new phones, Palm announced it's throwing open the doors of its developer programme to the public, which should help fill the empty virtual shelves that make the Pre's app catalogue feel like a trip back in time to austerity Britain.
Palm is also allowing people free access to its database of apps, so people can develop alternative front-ends to the app store. Visitors to app stores such as the Apple App Store and the Android Market have struggled to cope with wading through the volume of apps, now that they're packed with thousands of choices of variable quality, many of which are rip-offs of each other. Apple has done a re-design of its App Store to help, but we think it's a great idea for Palm to allow the creativity of the hive mind loose on the problem of app overload.
Our US colleague Bonnie Cha had a play with the Pixi Plus and Pre Plus at CES in Las Vegas, so hit play for a close-up.