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The first "must have" Palm VII software

One of the best things for any computer platform is new markets and opportunities. The Palm VII is a platform full of gold in this respect. While programmers can't do anything (that I know of at least) about the flawed pricing plan for online usage, most every other shortcoming is just a clever software solution away.

Nearly all writers have criticized the limits on the Palm VII iMessenger application that keeps it from being able to access your regular POP3 email account. Instead you are limited to email that is sent to your address at Until ThinAirMial.

ThinAirMail, from, is a well designed and easy-to-use application that allows you to retrieve your email from any POP3 email account or Hotmail account. You can do this with your Palm VII just as you would retrieve your email: anywhere and anytime.

The Details

ThinAirMail works by storing up to three POP3 or Hotmail accounts on a special secure server that provides. Apparently the PQA applications on the Palm VII aren't capable of storing their own settings, so this server arrangement is necessary. Configuration is otherwise quite straightforward. In most cases, for a POP3 account, you'll simply copy settings you can find in your current email program or from documentation provided by your ISP for your desktop email software. Instructions for Hotmail configuration are simple as well.

The overall interface is attractive and easy to use. You can switch between email, news, paging, and search functions. Unfortunately not all services can save the necessary settings. To use news you'll be forced to re-enter your news server and the newsgroup you wish to read, for example.

In the current release, version 1.4, support for ICQ has been added as well. You can search for an ICQ account or use the pager functions to contact an ICQ user. This is a sample of the attention to detail that has been given in the design and implementation of this software. All the right touches seem to be here.

Reading email is exactly as you would expect it. You can choose to reply to email and even delete it from your server. If you don't delete the email it can be downloaded again to your desktop email program later.

Writing new email works well and draws email addresses from your Address Book if needed.

The only drawbacks I can find in ThinAirMail is that it can be a little sluggish to respond at times. It's particularly bad for me due to no fault of ThinAirMail. My ISP has terrible latency problems from time to time with its email server, which can really affect ThinAirMail adversely.


This program is a must-have. The price is right (free) and the service is excellent. It integrates nicely into your Palm VII environment and provides a much needed service. Other services, such as MonkeyMail, are providing some competition to ThinAirMail, but fail to meet the same level of features and usability at this time. ThinAirMail is highly recommended.


Pen Computing also interviewed Nathanial X. Freitas of about their company, and their future plans on the Palm platform.

Pen Computing: Tell us a bit about, the company. Here's a bit from our mission statement:

" is a software development company dedicated to designing and building business applications and software tools for the wireless handheld device market. Our focus is on building applications that facilitate the movement and management of information between back end systems and handheld devices for both the consumer and corporate market." was founded as a spin-off of CTNY, LLC, a New York based e-business technology leader. ThinAirApps is currently eight people, and we are actively hiring!

PC: Tell us a bit about the people behind the company name?

TAAPPS: Jon Oakes and Jim Venturi built CTNY, starting in 1991, into a successful and profitable consulting firm. CTNY's foundation is in enterprise integration and messaging, but in the last few years, the company has focused on web-based applications, including a number of e-commerce websites and WinCE development projects. ThinAirMail had its beginnings in CTNY Creativity, the development division of CTNY. ThinAirApps.Com has now officially spun off as a new company.

Jon is the CEO of ThinAirApps and I am the CTO and co-founder of ThinAirApps. I began working at CTNY in 1998, where I held the position of lead developer. My background is in developing distributed web and Java applications, as well as software for the Newton and the Palm, and it lent itself perfectly to the kind of work ThinAirApps is all about.

The rest of the amazing development team has also come from CTNY, and they have proved invaluable in their ability to apply their years of enterprise consulting experience in this new area.

PC: Tell us more about ThinAirMail - what are your goals with this product?

TAAPPS: The fact that there was no real email solution for the Palm VII slowed it from being a serious tool for mobile professionals and private users alike.

A PDA is supposed to make your life simpler, not complicate it. By enabling a user to access multiple email accounts quickly and efficiently through a single PQA, I believe we have done that.

We also hoped to push the limits of what a PQA could be. Our user interface is quite rich, while still being efficient. We have also added the capability of linking into the palm address book, thereby linking your local data with your wireless data.

Finally, we wanted to demonstrate that wireless device technology is all about transforming data and providing proxy points between network protocols and transports. For instance, the simple HTML that Palm VII can read is being generated from a very complex server that listens to the HTTP request from the device and transforms those requests into IMAP, POP3, and NNTP protocols. The server then filters and compresses the output from those requests and returns just the essential data in a page that is usually under 1kb in size.

PC: ThinAirMail, at the time of this writing, is free. Where will your company make its money?

TAAPPS: We will be releasing two products before the end of the year: Secure Server and Personal Access. Both are aimed at corporate users, on company-wide and individual levels, respectively.

ThinAir Secure Server is installed at the corporate site and links to a range of wireless devices and data stores through a series of unique Smart Connectors and Distributed Gateways. These connectors and gateways provide users with a real-time view of corporate data. Users will not be required to sync their devices with their desktop in order to access key information.

We are also beginning to partner with a number of companies who wish to wirelessly enable their existing websites, and web-based applications.

PC: What is the future for What are your future plans-anything you care to reveal at this time?

TAAPPS: We will be releasing ThinAir 2.0 (code named Apollo) very soon, and it will include many new email features, such as message filtering, BCC-ing, folder navigation, and more, as well as some completely new capabilities.

We will releasing an SDK early next year that will allow developers to build gateways into new data types, and to enable their own applications and devices.

Finally, we are always on the lookout for new opportunities to grasp, new problems to solve, and new compromises to break. Wireless device technology is an exciting and rapidly growing field, and we plan to keep innovating and pushing the limits of what's possible on the various platforms available.

PC: Thank you for your time.


Our pleasure.

-Kermit Woodall

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