More Palm Pre goodies -- this time, it's HTML 5

The giddiness continues over Palm's upcoming Pre handset, as attendees at a Mobile World Congress demo this week saw the much-anticipated handset running a version of Google Maps and an offline-ready Gmail entirely coded in HTML 5. And running them well, apparently.

For those who signed off from HTML somewhere around the blink-tag era, this is indeed the latest version of the specification, and the first to have two threads in parallel development -- HTML 5 and XHTML 5. (XHTML 5 is an iteration of XML and, if you like, a way of making HTML's relatively freewheeling markups work with XML's persnickety processing tools.) Tags can now give useful information about content types; most appealingly perhaps for developers, there are several new APIs to facilitate apps and improve interactivity.

AT MWC, Google VP Vic Gundorta showed off the new mobile stuff -- running, again, not as an application but on a Web page -- with evident glee at doing so on the Pre, calling it "one of [his] most favorite devices." Video appearing on Slashgear (and embedded below) showed Google Maps looking like ... well, Google Maps, essentially the same and you'd see it on your usual computer screen, though with the added charm of gestures.

For those among us more worried about guidance through the trackless wastelands of email, the version of Gmail shown included labels and the newly essential offline-access functionality. The Gmail improvements are also available for the iPhone and, of course, HTC's Magic Android.

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