01/11/2009, 06:19 PM
Palm's webOS does not presume any sort of tether at all. The company has totally ditched the idea that you will use this phone in conjunction with a specific "main PC" that contains the canonical, authoritative repository of your data. Instead, webOS draws seamlessly on a variety of data services—not data repositories, but cloud-based services that actively feed the device both data and critical context.
This is a deep, fundamental break with both the iPhone and previous, repository-based smartphone usage models, and it's important enough that other smartphones are bound to follow.
Ultimately, the exact mechanism for moving changes of state between the device and the online information services to which it connects (cloud, IMAP e-mail, IM, Twitter etc.) will depend on the particular service. Some services ask the device to poll, while others push out updates—it all depends on the transport. But the user will never see any of that, since it all goes on behind the scenes under the heading of "Synergy."
Note that I should have asked about Synergy's impact on battery life, because from a power savings perspective, it's probably better to have a single, shared model for handling state changes (like batch updates) than to have the kind of free-for-all that Crowley seemed to be describing.
Ultimately, webOS acts much like what Daniels described in his interview; that is, it moves away from a repository datasource model to a federated query service model, where the device queries multiple services for state that it then caches locally, before invisibly propagating any changes back out to the cloud.