This is sort of weird–according to CNet, PalmSource (the software company that controls the Palm OS) is releasing a new version of their software tomorrow. The new version, Cobalt 6.1, is part of their multitasking Cobalt family, announced in January of this year and yet to ship in any product. At the time it was announced, PalmSource announced that the existing PalmOS 5.x family was being renamed “Garnet” and marketed towards smartphones, like the Treo. The new line, formerly expected to be called PalmOS 6, was named “Cobalt” and was aimed towards high-end PDAs.

That was 9 months ago; so far, no “Cobalt” devices have hit the market, although PalmOne is widely expected to announce the Tungsten T5 within the next week or so.

The odd thing about the Cobalt 6.1 announcement is that it’s expected to be aimed towards smartphones. I thought that that’s what Garnet was for?

And how does this fit into the Treo 650, which is expected at the same time as the Tungsten T5? Presumably, the Cobalt 6.1 release is aimed at Treo-like devices, but won’t actually show up in shipping hardware for another 6 months or so. Still, it’d be nice to see a Treo with Cobalt sooner or later.

Update: The Register has a few more details: first, this won’t ship in phones until 2005. Next, 6.1 also includes improvements to the graphics rendering code at the core of PalmOS. They include a screenshot with translucent overlays and drop shadows; maybe the “1-bit graphics plus color” look of PalmOS is finally going away. Clearly, PalmSource’s spin that this release is an upgrade for smartphones is largely spin–sure they’re adding Bluetooth and GSM support to the core of the OS, but a lot of other stuff is going in as well.

eWeek has a few more details; apparently PalmSource is claiming that 11 new PalmOS smartphones will ship in the next year. At least one of them will use this new software release.