The CTO of Pandora loves him some webOS

While we here at MobileCrunch have been worked up like little kids at a Ringling Bros circus since we first got wind of the Palm Pre and webOS, there has been one small matter we’re still a bit shaky about: application development. In Palm’s own words, webOS’ Mojo framework is “a new application framework based on the HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript standards”. While they’re promising that Mojo applications will run at native speeds and can use Javascript calls (Javascript Object Notation, to be specific) to access a “wide range of device services, including contacts, calendars, and location”, we’re still a wee bit tainted by Apple’s strictly limited execution of web applications.

According to Pandora CTO Tom Conrad during an interview with PalmInfocenter, our worries might be without reason. While he does say that Mojo might not be the best framework for hardware intensive games, he does say that it should be perfectly suitable for just about everything else. Pandora’s got a whole ton of mobile dev experience (iPhone, countless J2ME phones) up their collective sleeve – so if they’re good with it, we’ll give it the benefit of the doubt for the time being.

PIC: Right, right, obviously still a few months until release… so what’s Pandora’s take on their approach? I mean, they’re going for this whole “synergy” thing where the OS integrates with the Internet quite heavily. Some people have been saying “Oh, you know, it’s just web apps”, that kind of thing, but other people seem to think that this is going to be some kind of new paradigm in mobile design. So what’s your take on it – what’s your thoughts on that?

TC: Well, I think one of the important little nuances here to understand is that you might think from the name “webOS” and from the technologies used – HTML and CSS and Javascript – you might think that this is the whole thing, just kind of a fancy web browser, and that you’re – y’know, any interaction you take is interacting with web content. That’s really not how it works at all. What you really have, is that you have an environment where a developer can write a traditional application – so, an application that gets installed onto the phone with all its code and all of its user interface elements and that is actually local to the phone. There’s also a database and file storage that allows you to take data from the internet connection and store it locally – so when you’re browsing your contacts, for example, you’re interacting with an application that’s local to the phone, with interface elements that are local to the phone and with contacts that are actually sitting on the phone.

What makes it this “webOS” is that the programming models for your developer rather than being C or Java is really just HTML and CSS and Javascript. So you can take a developer who’s been developing web applications and quickly get them productive in the webOS SDK, leveraging their familiarity with these web-based standards. And that decision is one of the reasons we were able to get, very very quickly, a version of Pandora up and running. We were able to take one of our star web developers – someone who has never touched the Palm webOS and not done mobile development before – and have that person be immediately productive because it’s all based on systems that they’re familiar with from web development.

Full interview here.