Palm Pre Emulating an iPod to Accomplish iTunes Sync?

The news broke yesterday that Palm's anticipated Pre phone will seamlessly sync with iTunes for both Mac and Windows, allowing users to transfer non copy-protected content to the new Palm phone. While there has been speculation on how this had been accomplished, Jon Johansen explains in a blog post what Palm must have done, and why he believes it won't last.

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According to Johansen, the Palm Pre must be specifically presenting itself as an Apple iPod to trick iTunes into syncing data with it. This is why iTunes displays "Syncing iPod" rather than "Syncing Pre" during the demos.

So how is Palm doing this? Its pretty simple, really. Well start with the most basic question that doesnt even involve the Pre: To a PC, whats the difference between an iPod and a Kingston memory stick? The iPod has a specific USB Vendor Id that identifies it as being an Apple product and a USB Product Id that identifies it as being a specific iPod model.

Aside from transmitting Apple-specific Vendor Ids and Product Ids, the Palm Pre must also be responding to custom USB commands sent by iTunes to gather information about the device. Johansen also believes that there will likely be enough differences in the implementation that Apple will be able to break this compatibility with the next iTunes release.

Johansen, of course, is intimately familiar with media/device syncing as he is the co-founder of doubleTwist, a free alternative media syncing application for both Mac and PC. We covered doubleTwist's Mac beta launch back in February. Johansen conveniently points out that they will be offering Pre sync support in doubleTwist.

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