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Why Geeks Should Love HP WebOS (palm.com)
294 points by unwiredben on May 11, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 166 comments

I love it simply because its the best SSH experience of all of the smartphones. One click gets me the phones real terminal and then "ssh -l me whereever.com". No bogus setup screens, with each server requiring a 5 minute fill in the blank session to connect to, no menus full of special keys to transmit (most covered with the orange key), just pure .ssh/id_dsa public key in my home-dir win.

Its 10x easier than the best thing on my ipad and its with me 24/7 because it also happens to be my phone. Other problems with WebOS and Pre? Sure there are. This makes up for all of them. Smartphone makers: rent-seek my terminal, you lose.

Have you tried Maemo? With Maemo, I can just launch an xterm and ssh to my heart's content. For that matter, I can also set up an SSH server and ssh into the device. I'm guessing Meego probably has the same support.

In my experience, it's the closest experience to have a full Linux box that I can stick in my pocket.

Maemo is brilliant, except it's a dead end in favor of Meego, whose future is uncertain.

What's wrong with a dead end? Isn't SSH a dead end, since we haven't seen any major modifications ina while? Maemo still has SSH, it's still linux, and it's still debian. There are community projects to update software and fix bugs.

> What's wrong with a dead end?

No new phones, obviously.

SSH is in active development. It isn't a dead end at all. While Maemo/Meemo will be going the way of the dodo probably.

Yeah, I can do all of that with my Pre 2 as well, and I had been doing it on my Pre for a while.

Heck, with xterm on my Pre 2, I can run a Debian or Ubuntu ARM rootfs and actually have a full Linux experience in my pocket.

I didn't know webOS could do that. Maybe webOS could replace my Maemo N900. I have a Debian chroot on my N900 (with OpenOffice, GIMP & Apache) but don't use it that much.

Other Linuxy things that I use my N900 for that I'd like to know if webOS could do: - vnc server - all the usual ssh port tunnelling / forwarding stuff - bash - cron - git - curl / wget / nmap - software repositories (Maemo uses apt) - python / ruby / php

(Not trying to say mine's better than yours, I'd just like to know if webOS might be for me as my N900 is getting old)

Yes, you can do a lot of those things, but over homebrew. You can install ipkg-opt, which will give you access to the nslu2-linux optware packages. It's no apt, but you can still use it to install packages. From the optware packages, you can install python/ruby/php, install a vnc server (although I think there are some homebrew apps for that), install git, cron, and a lot of the standard programs you would expect in a standard linux installation.

I'm not sure on ssh port tunneling/forwarding, but curl/wget come installed on webOS.

WebOS is looking really good. Can anyone point me to an architecture diagram along the lines of [1]? The best one I could find was [2], which doesnmt give many details.

[1] http://www.99bits.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/meego-archi...

[2] http://www.palminfocenter.com/images/webos-architecture-dev....

Tunneling has worked like a champ for me. With a linux box at home and a linux phone in my pocket, corporate blockers are a thing of the past and all of my work is only ever an ssh away. =]

Is there any way to connect a display/keyboard/mouse (the input devices perhaps over bluetooth) so it can even be a desktop?

Bluetooth keyboards work on webOS 2.0 and later. The webOS emulator runs as x86 virtual machine and uses your keyboard and mouse from the host PC. Some people have boot that image directly on PC hardware with varying degrees of success.

You can't connect a display or mouse. You can connect a keyboard over bluetooth, but I haven't tried it in a rootfs.

Connectbot is pretty excellent for Android, I'd have to add.

I agree, and it's open source too. In fact I am currently working on getting it to work well with the full keyboard on my new Android tablet/netbook.

Can you exclude your private ssh key from being synced with google?

Why do you think the private ssh key would be sync'd with Google in first place?

There's no background sync of your Android phone's contents to Google, just things like Contacts and Email (which are optional)

When I setup an Android phone I am asked if I want to sink my configuration and data with Google, and that this information includes things like wifi psks.

Are ssh keys stored in an area that is separate from what Google syncs?

As I understand it, it's up to each app to decide what exactly it will back up. After a quick glance at the code, it seems to me that it backs up preferences, host keys, and public/private keys.

Okay, so that's a big red flag for me. Google can't have my private keys, so I can't use it. Thanks.

Of course, you could download the source, comment out the lines that do that, and use the app. Or just don't enable the 'backup to Google' option.

Yep, I could do, but that's too much work.

I want backup to Google, for everything apart from that.

Is Prompt already the best thing on your iPad? If not, I'd be curious to know how it stacks up. (Prompt costs US$5 for an iPad/iPhone version. Nobody get the vapors.)

I've used Prompt on both the iPad and iPhone and have zero complaints. It's an excellent app and worth every penny.

I use prompt allmost everyday. Its THE best ssh app I have tried on a smartphone. I dont know webos/maemo, but in my time on palmos, symbian, windows mobile, android and ios I have not met a ssh app this good.

Webos/maemo have the same ssh client (and xterm) you have on a desktop linux.

I see where you are going with this, but as a 'middle-adopter', I might wait until I can just install ubuntu on my phone.

Just tap on the “Just Type” search bar and enter “upupdowndownleftrightleftrightbastart” (the classic NES Konami code!); an icon appears that lets you toggle this mode on and off.

Wait, really? If that's not a joke, then it's kind of cool.

Yep, the konami code to get into dev mode has been in webos since the very beginning. I am talking webos 1.0.

Also, WebOs is great. I really like it and the UI but so far the devices have been fairly unimpressive. The original Palm Pre was good for about 3 months. After which android and iphone have gotten so many updates.

If the Palm Pre 3 lives up to it's ideal, it would definitely be worth a look but unfortunately, as cool as the OS is, the hardware just doesn't match.

I am quite happy with my Pre 2 (a gift by the developer program - they aren't sold in Brazil). There are a couple issues, as it appears to have never been tested here - GPS seems slow and may have a bug in its software, various reception weirdnesses (hard to get it to use 3G), but, overall, it's a very solid and responsive phone.

I expect the 3 to up that a notch. Right now, I prefer it over iPhone and Android, as actually doing things (as opposed as to opening programs) happens more fluidly.

I was deeply in love with WebOS on my 1st gen Pre. But - like you noted - the hardware was disappointing, and the Pre 2 should have been the Pre 1.5.

Even a year after switching to the iPhone 4 - there are still things I miss about my Pre's UI. If I could get WebOS on iPhone quality hardware, I'd be there in a second.

yeah, this entire thing has kinda impressed me, I'm on the lookout for a new ATM, may look into this

Wow, browsing that site from my phone is a crippling experience, they have this:

    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0, maximum-scale=1.0, user-scalable=0" /> 
..yet they haven't actually optimized the site properly for a small display, meaning it's not actually possible to scroll/zoom to see any full line of text (tested on iPhone).

I've passed this on to our dev portal design team. I hope we can get a fix for the blog theme soon; the scaling broke as part of a portal redesign back in March.

Strange, it works for me on iPhone 4. You might also try two-finger scrolling, which is a hidden workaround for independently scrollable divs.

Tested again, seems yes I can pan sideways (not sure why I couldn't before) but still can't zoom which makes no sense when the doc is wider than the viewport.


I remember getting excited when the Pre first came out. Sadly, it wasn't available in India. It still isn't. This is why Android will take over the mobile world: it's ubiquitous. Also, Samsung and HTC, the two largest players in the Android market, actually care about markets other than the USA and Europe. The Galaxy S II, for example, will launch in 120 countries.

True, why would I want to get an iPhone when I know it won't be serviced in India. India is a very smartphone hungry market, and Apple is doing itself a great disservice by not selling here.

PS:- Apple does sell, iPhone 3GS and iPad 2 in India. Except the iPhone, every other product is available within a week of the US launch. So the iPhone situation is quite strange.

I was hoping Palm would eventually license WebOS to companies that could make better hardware and offer more desirable form factors. WebOS is nice but the original Pre was just truly awful hardware. Under powered, fragile, terrible keyboard, screen was too small, etc. It doesn't look like the other WebOS devices released since have really improved on this much. Unfortunately HP would never consider licensing so hopefully they at least look at the SmartPhone market and realize people seem to like slim devices with high resolution screens. Big fat sliders with small low resolution screens have a very limited market these days.

I agree, but this is a problem that plagues Android too, though it's slowly getting better.

Even now though, hold an iPhone 4 in one hand, and hold the Nexus S in the other. Both are fine, fast phones with a wide array of features... but one feels plasticky and cheap, while the other feels solid, almost as if it was hewn out of a solid piece of glass.

Samsung, LG, et al really need to get their shit together. Apple sets a very high bar for manufacturing precision, materials use, and industrial design. I feel like the OEMs are slowly getting the design aspect sorted out, but every time I see a new Android device I can't help but be disappointed at the cheap materials and generally good-but-not-great assembly.

Even now though, hold an iPhone 4 in one hand, and hold the Nexus S in the other. Both are fine, fast phones with a wide array of features...

But one feels dated, awkward and like it belongs 5 years ago with some light finishing polish to cover it up. Seriously dated. Do. Not. Want.

Samsung doesn't need to get their shit together. Just look at the Samsung Galaxy S II preorders. They are the highest ever recovered for any device. I think Samsung is doing just fine with their so-called "cheap-feeling" phone.

So sure. If things like the physical finish matters more to you than the actual capabilities of the device, then sure, continue buying Apple stuff. In a world where every competitor is cheaper, more open and offers more choice, this is really the only reason one could possibly have for choosing Apple these days.

Are you saying the iPhone 4 feels like it belongs 5 years ago and is "seriously dated"?

You realise that's a year before iPhone 1 was released and at a time when the "Best smartphone" category ( http://reviews.cnet.com/4321-6452_7-6600061.html ) had Nokia N95 and Windows Mobile 6 in it and mostly no touchscreen, no multitouch devices?

this is really the only reason one could possibly have for choosing Apple these days.

Untrue and inflamatory trolling. The app store or specific apps, iTunes store integration, familiarity, preference for iOS, loyalty to Apple corporation, integration with Apple TV, fashion,

You realise that's a year before iPhone 1 was released

My bad. So 4 years ago it was the best, despite lacking 3G. 4 years later and next to nothing has changed. I honestly think it warrants being labeled "dated".

Untrue and inflamatory trolling. The app store or specific apps, iTunes store integration, familiarity, preference for iOS, loyalty to Apple corporation, integration with Apple TV, fashion,

The app store is in my opinion inferior to Android Market. And the constant changes which Steve goes about with ensures that fewer and fewer developers will put up with it. The iTunes integration and requirement is for most people a bug, not a feature.

Preference for iOS is like you said, a preference, but it's hardly warranted. This thing haven't moved an inch since launch.

Loyalty to Apple corporation is a mental handicap to everyone not bitten by Steve Jobs RDF. Why on earth would you be loyal to a corporation? I'm loyal to me and my needs, and I want the best. The iPhone isn't.

Integration with Apple TV, a product useless in most parts of the world. Gee thanks. I'll consider it once Apple opens its TV/Movie store where I live, something they haven't done 3 years after they launched the music store.

Fashion? Are you serious? It may have been fashion a year ago, but right now everyone are getting Android phones. Apple haven't gotten any successor to the iPhone 4 out, and most Android phones in sale now, not to mention the dual-core models coming out as we speak, surpass the iPhone 4 on every metric.

The iPhone was a success based on it being the king of the smartphone game, and now it is slowly but surely lagging behind. Unless Apple does something unheard of with the iPhone 5 (including a near-complete rewrite of iOS) they will still be lagging when it comes out. They will release a device with dated software on day one and then they have lost. They will no longer be the better or premium option, they'll just have a glossy look.

I realize I'm an iPhone owner gone Android-fanatic. Yes. I am biased. But right now, the iPhone objectively has very little appeal unless you are burdened with the loyalty-handicap.

HN should add a "report troll" link for comments like this.

I think Apple is starting to lose the mobile war where they used to be kings. I don't think that telling people with the loyalty-handicap that their misplaced corporate loyalty is not a globally shared opinion nor truth qualifies as trolling.

But while I (obviously) disagree with your opinion, you are entitled to yours just as I am to mine. Have an upvote.

There is nothing to indicate definitively what you state.

But telling people who buy Apple that the "only reason they could possibly buy it" is because they only care for fit and finish and not capability. That they buy with a loyalty "handicap", that their loyalty is "misplaced" and implying that they think "it is a globally shared opinion and ultimate truth", that is trolling.

My bad. So 4 years ago it was the best, despite lacking 3G. 4 years later and next to nothing has changed. I honestly think it warrants being labeled "dated".

That "next to nothing" which changed includes GPS, compass, new kinds of motion sensing, retina display, significant CPU, RAM and Processor upgrdes, non-jailbroken availability of bluetooth keyboard, copy/paste and multitasking support, airplay, video recording, video out by cable, installable Apps instead of saved links to webapps, the entire App store, a higher res camera (twice), multiple cameras, MMS, facetime, significant improvement in javascript speed in Safari, in hardware accelerated graphics/GPU, the appearance of the game center, a slew of new Exchange Activesync features and policies for IT departments to manage iOS and on-device encryption which works instead of lying. And it's thinner and lighter and has better quality fit and finish.

The iTunes integration and requirement is for most people a bug, not a feature.

I think for most people it's a feature. The bug is "I have to plug my phone into a music player to activate it?" and "document transfer with iTunes as intermediary sucks". The feature is "I can buy music from iTunes store on my desktop, laptop or phone all using the same account all will get it when I sync. Same with video, which I can then play on AppleTV. My phone has iTunes remote control on it. My apple devices work with each other, no worrying about transcoding and copying and SSH keys and scripts and bodges."

Loyalty to Apple corporation is a mental handicap to everyone not bitten by Steve Jobs RDF. Why on earth would you be loyal to a corporation? I'm loyal to me and my needs, and I want the best. The iPhone isn't.

A corporation is a group of patterns and procedures executed by people. It's the human equivalent of software. The difference between a good corporation and a crummy one is like the difference between Registry Optimizer Spy Cleaner 2000 and Google Chrome.

Loyalty to a corporation means "Dealing with them was helpful and not painful, I predict low hassle in future".

Disloyalty to a corporation means "That was a load of hassle, no thanks to their other products".

Apple's website is nicer than Dells and Microsofts to find what I need. Apple's call centers were fantastic at the times I've called them, Microsofts were terrible and Dells were poor without an expensive contract. Aviva were terrible, Direct Line were great. Barclays were terrible.

It's not loyalty like patriotism where it can never be broken, but "I had good experiences in the past, that's why I will buy their devices in future" absolutely is a valid reason for choosing something over something else and it's not a mental handicap to do so.

Fashion? Are you serious?

Fashion is a valid reason why people choose to buy things, yes. That counters "Absolutely the only reason is if you care about fit and finish". I

The iPhone was a success based on it being the king of the smartphone game, and now it is slowly but surely lagging behind.

What is it lagging behind in that other current phones have and most non-geek users would want? (i.e. not "appears as a disk drive when cabled, which has been around for years and Apple chose not to implement it, but something new and cutting edge")

Unless Apple does something unheard of with the iPhone 5 (including a near-complete rewrite of iOS) they will still be lagging when it comes out. They will release a device with dated software on day one and then they have lost. They will no longer be the better or premium option, they'll just have a glossy look.

Were you watching the iPad 2 release? While everyone else was harping on about Android CPU cores on their tablets, Apple released an incredibly polished, world class piece of software engineering for a pittance of a price (Garage Band tablet edition). You can argue about how useful iPad Garage Band is for writing songs, but it's evidence that Apple isn't resting on laurels unable to innovate and pushing "dated software".

I realize I'm an iPhone owner gone Android-fanatic. Yes. I am biased. But right now, the iPhone objectively has very little appeal unless you are burdened with the loyalty-handicap.

iPhone has incredible appeal. All the stuff it could do yesterday, it can still do today. Unless you specifically want some of the things a competitor phone can do that iPhones can't, it's still a fine choice - and in terms of all the things smartphones collectively do, "what other phones do extra" is a tiny subset.

(Sorry, essay time!)

Don't feed the trolls

The Pre 2 is a huge improvement over the original Pre and its upgraded Plus version. It's just that no one ever cared enough to sell it.

If HP made an iPod Touch competitor, I would buy one in a heartbeat. I don't want to buy another phone, but I'd love to have a WebOS device to play with.

Agreed - been saying for years that Palm screwed themselves over by trying to get in to the phone market with the Pre. They should have gone after reinventing the "PDA" market which they'd invented years earlier. Something like ipod touch with webOS 2 years ago would have, imo, allowed Palm to be a much different beast today.

Agreed agreed! I don't care for a smartphone, and don't need a tablet- bring back the PDA! Palm needs to find its roots, not try to compete with Apple and Google/HTC head-on. If HP was smart, they'd step out of the fray and let Microsoft/Nokia/RIM try to deal with it.

I get the feeling that HP does not care about the phone market too much. However, the table market is something they are scared will eat into their PC business. So, I expect HP to push the TouchPad with all its might. If that happens, an iPod touch device seems the next thing they will release. I am looking forward to that too!

It's not that they don't care but I get the feeling that they have conceeded the phone market to Apple and Android. All the information I've been getting lately is they are going to push into the tablet market really hard. It's still relatively untapped and (except Apple) the competition has been very slim.

You know what's lacking from this list? A killer feature that both Android or iOS lacks. And that doesn't just have to be software, it can be the backing of other high profile manufacturers or a super low price point. The problem is that when you don't have market share you have to have bells and whistles the get geeks excited. I love HP as a company, and they're great as making stuff — but making an operating system is a different ball game of sorts.

The killer feature for me is that you can patch the builtin apps. The WebOS OSS community is actually pretty cohesive and have their own market with a subcategory for system patches. You install it like any other app and it runs patch in the background, restart the phone and the patch is applied.

After owning an android device for a year, I've come to realize the only features I use are directions, web, mail, and Kindle. I regularly dislike/want one particular feature in these apps and feel that I can get them to work how I want if I can patch so I'll be switching over when I get a new phone.

I'm in the early access program and I've spent a couple weekends on it. Waiting on clarification on Enyo's licensing (i.e. can I use it as a baseline for cross platform apps) which has not been forthcoming before actually investing in the platform. I've been asking about Enyo licensing at events since January and nobody will say.

Good point... if I was writing this again, I'd mention the Synergy system that ties in data sources from email, contacts, and calendar sites online into the core webOS PIM apps, giving you a unified view of everything. I didn't list it because it's a bit hard to build on, but I feel like it's the stand out feature.

Oh, and really nice multitasking. Effortless app management... but those are more user concerns.

Well, now that the Google Tasks API is out, that should get integrated too.

Synergy is a great idea and it works for the most part. Still needs improvement though as some calendars have issues syncing.

My HTC phone does that for contacts; not sure whether that's Android or HTC Sense.

If HP really wants developers behind it, they should consider giving away these devices to the developers. Even a $500 phone is a cheap investment with high returns, when made on a developer who's going to invest time (and money), is going to learn mostly by herself, and release an app in the market, even if in the hopes of making money for herself.

With Android already doing well, I don't see a developer risking her time as well as money on Palm, when it's uncertain how much success she'll achieve.

They were giving away Pre 2's. They probably still are giving them away if they still have them in stock.

According to the HP webOS Developer Forums' Hardware Section, the offer's done. In fact, a lot of developers who took part are still waiting for theirs from back in February/March. The Pre 2 giveaway to developers really could have been executed better, IMO. Some folks who were approved back then don't even know if they'll still get one, which is disconcerting. Google can drop 5,000 special-edition Samsung tablets in a day, and HP's had almost three months to fulfill.

I respect that they could have just not given any away in the first place, but HP's in a critical spot right now trying to keep webOS relevant with developers--especially given that many in the first wave of webOS developers from '09-'10 have already long left the platform. Better communication on the status of the program and fulfillment would have gone a long way. I'm really hoping they can work the kinks out of the system when it comes to things like this with the resources HP has on-hand.

This is just anecdotal, but I signed up and received my developer Pre2 in about 2 weeks. I assume I must have gotten in before the rush because I signed on as soon as I heard about it.

On the other hand, I've been waiting 4 and 6 months to get a Cr48 laptop from Google and not a peep. So its not like only HP is the only one bad at communicating.

Did Google promise to send you one? Or did you fill out a questionnaire in the hopes of them sending you one?

Same here, from the time I first sent a request in to the Pre 2 arriving, it was only about 2 weeks. I also signed up as soon as I heard about it, so it probably was because I got in before the rush.

If anything, that's the single biggest problem with HP / Palm.

Execution is extremely shoddy. That and what seems like low attention span sometimes.

I really want to like WebOS. I did when the original Pre came out, but the hardware was only so-so and the marketing was too little.

Now, the new hardware looks really slick and the Enyo framework is super powerful. Again I was happy... Until I tried to sign up in their dev center. It's a many step process during which you have to register with the IRS, for example. Then you have to email them and ask for access to the Enyo SDK. Then they send you a form letter back. I have lost almost all interest by now.

Palm... I really want to like you. Don't make it so hard.

You need to fill in the tax crap if u want the developer access and the Enyo early access. In other words if you are hoping to get any revenues from your apps. You also need a paypal account. Just for the SDK you can stick to the community member level.

I think that's just the early-access for Enyo. I signed up for the current SDK and I had everything in about 5 minutes.

You only have to do that for the Enyo early access program. If you just wanted to check it out, you could register without having to provide IRS information. You can enter your IRS information later when you want to upload apps.

Also, if you just want access to the current SDK and emulator, you wouldn't even need to register. You just need to go through the extra steps for Enyo because it is currently under NDA.

I loved my Pre when I was still with Sprint. By far the most enjoyable to use out of all the phones I've had. My biggest complaint was (and still is) the lack of applications. If HP is able increase their app library, they will quite possibly find me buying another WebOS device.

I really hope they succeed if only because of the openness of their phones. It feels amazing to have full access to your device out of the box without having to jump through 1.5 million jailbreak hoops.

"You don’t have to jailbreak or root your device. What other platforms call jailbreaking or rooting, we call entering developer mode."

As an iOS jailbreaker, <3

I mean, it removes a bit of the fun, but still.

I ought to get a Pre.

Having had a Pre since the day Sprint launched it in 2009, it's truly a hackerphone for those that want to customize their experience, and one of the primary reasons I've evangelized the platform and my experience developing for and tinkering with it to all the developer friends of mine that'd listen.

They got it right from the start. No bootloader crap or jailbreaking necessary. Preware from webOS Internals is just icing on the cake.

And all user-made the patches available make the phone so much better

Why Geeks should hate HP WebOS:

Only one recent device (at the moment) and it is carrier exclusive in most countries (for me, in germany). I like the new devices and the operating system, but sadly, I also have a good contract with a different carrier.

So: sorry HP, but i'll pass. I never bought a locked phone and I will not start because of your hypergeeky operating system.

You have been able to buy the unlocked Pre2 for quite some time: http://www.shopping.hp.com/store/product/product_detail/FB32...

There are lots of reasons to avoid webos; but this is not one.

I said recent device. I am not interested in buying last years model if all they push at the moment is the new line of products. How should I develop applications for their new and shiny line, if I cannot even get a fully working device on my contract?

Pre2 is the most recent phone you can buy with any carrier in the US right now.

You surely haven't missed the fact that the current advertisement push of HP is not about the Pre 2 though, but about the new lineup which starts to be on sale from next sunday on (starting with the HP Veer, followed by the Pre 3 and the Tablet which integrates with those two).

So yes: technically, it is the most recent. Practically, only for 3 more days.

I love WebOS because it has the only sane development model of all the smartphone platforms on the market.

edit: I actually think wp7/silverlight might fare well too from a dev perspective, but i haven't spent time with it yet.

WP7's suffering from its own developer adoption woes. The only problem with webOS' adoption, from my perspective as a webOS dev, has been marketing and hardware. Developing for webOS has been fun from Day One and continues to be nearly two years later.

The hardware part they look to have taken care of based on the Pre 3, Veer, and Touchpad I got to see and mess with back at their Dev Reception in February, and I'm pretty sure they have the money to market the product line now.

While the entry point is low, there are still many API's lacking which has prevented a lot of applications from being on webOS (for example, there was no mic API for the longest time).

WebOS keeps getting more and more compelling. If the hardware becomes sturdier, this could do very well, especially in the tablet space.

I think WebOS is great. But all the Palm devices are sliders which kinda sucks. I wish they'd come up with something comparable with Nexus S or iPhone 4. A simple, but cool nice little piece of smartphone. But, that's just me.

I actually like the slider keyboard. If offers much better typing than an iPhone 4 and infinitely better than Androids.

The Palm Pixi is not a slider, and I love it.

The Pixi is nice as a form factor, but 1) it's incredibly old comparatively, and 2) will not officially run webOS 2.x, and especially 3.x.

I know others who loved the form factor and feel of the Pixi; I'm hoping HP decides to throw them a bone in the future to get them back.

But it is terrrrrribly slow, even overclocked.

1. Ares 2. Cards 3. Notifications 4. Just Type 5. Exhibition 6. OTA updates 7. Gestures 8. Synergy 9. The WebOS community 10. WebOS Internals

Wow, I hadn't seen Ares before. An in-browser SDK. Sweet.

Honestly, WebOS itself is way better than android or iOS, it's just that Palm sucked at marketing it, the Pre was only available on Sprint, they didn't attract many app developers, and they only sold 2 WebOS phones. I hope it's not too late for HP to fix it.

Between the gestures, notifications, card-based multitasking, and JS/CSS/HTML apps I'm in heaven.

Not only can you design and code your app from the browser, you have full debugging support in the browser that can remote debug on a physical device that's plugged in to the computer.

I love iOS and its SDK, but Ares sure beats 4 GB Xcode updates.

Wow. I will definitely be making a WebOS app now. It's really too bad Palm didn't think of Ares. It could have definitely changed the game.

Actually, Ares has been available for over a year now -- the technology team behind it has been building our new Enyo framework for websOS 3.0.

Maybe if they made a good device that was available for my carrier of choice I'd be more willing to consider it.

As it stands I have half a dozen android phones to possibly choose from and the venerable iphone. I'd love to have a webos phone if it was closer to the iphone in terms of form factor, resolution, speed, battery life etc but from what I've seen its not even close.

Top it off with the fact that it seems like HP hasn't advertised a penny for the thing compared to verizon's droid adverts plastered everywhere.

Honestly HP needs to team up with a carrier and make it happen in terms of marketing. Windows Phone 7 might beat out webos in terms of mindshare at this point.

WebOS is definitely very cool.

I doubt WebOS can overtake Android or iOS at this point, but it should be a solid third place in this market (I don't think other competitors like WP7 or Bada can make it).

Nokia makes WP7 #3 by default. A respectable #4 by volume would be fine if WebOS has a shot at #2 in quality.

#1 in quality is, I trust, sewn up for practically everyone reading this, though with disagreements at great length and volume on which name to fill in.

> Nokia makes WP7 #3 by default.

I don't get this argument. Nokia is big now, but why would it still be big with a completely different product, some time in the future, and after the market has changed quite a bit?

Is there any way that WebOS could be ported to Android? If they're both linux then the drivers should be fairly compatible with the respected kernel mods, right?

The interface (Luna) should be quite portable to Android, I suppose.

webOS sorely needs Galaxy S2 class hardware. HP should stop all else and get a slick device out like yesterday.

One of my main issues with WebOS from day one has been the lack of what I would regard as decent hardware.

Another issue in the past, which I hope has much improved since is the developer outreach which really sucked when I tried to engage. This was pre-HP acquisition. The fact that @unwiredben is active in this discussion is a good sign.

The Pre actually had decent hardware except for being light on mem. The OMAP chip was particularly overclock friendly and once overclocked along with some additional tweaks was nice and fast.

The problem was the earlier webOS versions had no GPU acceleration at all and ended seeming sluggish sometimes.

It needs a bigger form factor in slicker package - CPU/GPU matter but not as much as form factor for the Pre atm. Having the tiny Pre screen does little justice to webOS.

If they could get a SGS2 or Atrix type device out with GPU accelerated webOS UI and may be ship Android compatibility until webOS apps catch up - it would become a really credible player.

Yes, I should have been more precise. I've never liked the form factor and packaging of the WebOS devices. TouchPad looks like it might be up to scratch, but still nothing that looks good to me on the horizon in terms of the handset.

I have an old Sprint Pre and a Pre2. Even with the it clocked to 1.1GHz and an increase in the compcache the difference is quite noticeable. The Pre2 absolutely trounces it in performance. That extra 256MB makes a big difference.

if only there was a good (and hopefully cheap) hardware device to go with webOS, it would definitely be cool to hack with. The Palm Pre, however, in my opinion did not function as a useful device, mostly because of the hardware (and lack of applications compared to iOS and android devices).

Our new HP Veer phone with webOS is launching on AT&T next week. PreCentral reports a pretty good deal for people signing a new contract - http://www.precentral.net/white-ATT-veer-be-free-best-buy-av....

Care to elaborate on the hardware? Speed seemed decent enough (compared with e.g. the first iPhone) and I personally really liked the "pebble" form factor. Sad that it'll never see webOS 2...

webOS 2.1 can be installed on the Pre if you make use of the Meta-Doctor.

Some additional hoops to jump through but it's entirely doable along with overclocking, you end up with a pretty snappy device.


You want to be working on current-gen hardware if you're baselining future development efforts at 2.x going forward.

What you don't want to be using as your sole dev/test unit is a two year-old device using an unofficial workaround to get an OS version installed that was never intended to be used on it.

It's fine if you want to support those people that decided to use the workaround by having one of these franken-units around as a secondary edge-case device to test on, but it should never be the only device you use to develop and test with. I have a 1Ghz overclocked Sprint Pre at 1.4.5 as my "daily driver" and another Sprint Pre I've upgraded to 2.0 for testing such cases.

Why haven't they made a tool/framework for porting WebOS apps (non-native) to iOS & android? This would be a great way to leverage their superior developer experience to get more apps on their platform.

Their next app (web?) framework, Enyo, does exactly this (in fact, apps are developed in Chrome). They haven't announced the licensing options (i.e. if it will be legal to use on other platforms), but I've run the betas of it on my iPad and they work quite well.

When webOS 3.0 comes out, it's really up to HP Palm if they want to allow this.

A compatibility layer on top of say PhoneGap could do the job. There would be a bit of a performance hit I imagine though. I doubt that V8 is any faster on Android than it is on WebOS, but the added layer of abstraction would slow things down a bit on non-WebOS platforms.

> There’s no cost to become a developer.

But there is, to submit (signed) apps?

https://developer.palm.com/index.php?option=com_register&... says

"Benefits include:

    Enroll in the webOS Developer program ($99/year; covers up to xx application submissions)
    Submit you webOS application(s) for review and approval by Palm"
Am sure am missing something. Also, these devices are too costly for geeks on other side of planet, if at all they are launched here.

Thanks for pointing out the old text. When we originally opened the dev program, there was a fee for submitting apps, but this has all be eliminated in the last year.

Enrollment is free for the time being. I guess this is just an out of date page. They make it very clear that you don't have to pay anything, but this may change in the future (I assume once they get enough developers to justify having to pay full-time app reviewers). If you go through the registration process the checkout is $.00.

I've always had a soft spot for WebOS and still prefer it over Android and WP7. However, Palm gimped themselves by making it Sprint exclusive and putting the OS on cheap plastic hardware.

They released all their phones to AT&T and Verizon shortly after the Sprint exclusive. The Pre 2, vastly improved over the Pre, was formerly available only as a GSM unlocked device, and now on Verizon. The Veer is an AT&T exclusive. Sprint distanced itself from webOS a long time ago.

By "shortly after" you mean 1 year after, I take it? Which also makes that available just under a year on AT&T today as well. So it hasn't really been that long and now we are hearing about a new OS and new hardware. Not sure I know anyone that would pay $150 for an outdated phone.

The point was it's not a Sprint exclusive.

Pretty much every single point applies to Android as well, and if you have to pick based on mind share and momentum...

I love WebOS. My DSL line just dropped this morning, and I'm using the WiFi hotspot built into my Pre to read HN. The 3G link is only slightly slower for web browsing (2.3 Mbps down, 330 kpbs up).

I too am a big WebOS fan. So much so, I'm learning web development so that I can write some apps to help populate its market.

If I love one device over the other because it gives me more potential earnings, does that make me less of a geek?

No. It makes you more of a man.

WebOS is not open source so I fail to see why a "geek" should love it. On the contrary - they should avoid it!

You sound a bit like Stallman. Even if you are using open source software you still use closed source hardware most of the time.

What's really wrong with closed source?

Funny thing...it is more open than the open source alternative.

#5: The source is easy to find.

Does this mean that all apps' source is accessible, or just Palm namespaced applications?

PDK application are compiled C++, so you only have object code. Most of the apps HP ships on device are JS apps, so source is there. A developer can choose to only ship minified/obfuscated source code if they want, but there still has to be something for V8 to parse and execute.

Right, I understand that but what I'm getting at is: if I create an application that is purely JS/HTML/CSS based, will my source be available to other developers that put their phone into "developer mode"?

If so, is there any way to make it not publicly available?

No, there's no way to completely hide the source. However, we do have a key manager API that can be used to hide encryption keys so they're not exposed in your source.

All non-PDK apps are viewable.

Just as Intel's AppUp, they require Paypal, which I've canceled and don't want to use any more.

If you are trying to convince others to cancel paypal, you are not doing a good job.

So when those new phones they showed some months ago at Mobile World Congress are coming out?

Veer is coming this Sunday. The other devices are probably coming next month, but probably a little later.

Are you stuck with the hp app store or can you go to places like apptown?

For purchasing apps, you use the HP App Catalog, but you can easily sideload applications using the developer tools, and that can install alternative catalogs like PreWare.

Looking forward to the Pre 3.

#7: You can try cutting edge stuff.

Yet you can't even do css background gradients. Real cutting edge.

css gradients are the qualifier for "cutting edge"?

CSS background gradients are visually appealing, but I'm not sure that's what users want to spend the ergs in their mobile device battery on.

I think it's about having the choice.

Defending myself against the down voters:

The fact is, I am a webos developer and have been asking for this feature since 2009. It's been in webkit for the longest time and Palm have said they'll add it in, many times and never have. Major let down.

As a fellow webOS developer, I understand your frustration. I'm just as frustrated with them over hybrid apps. I was already deep into development with my hybrid when they pulled the rug out from under all of us and announced that so-called legacy devices would not be receiving the 2.1 upgrade, and since hybrids would only be officially allowed in the app catalog for 2.1 devices, that meant most of my target audience would not be allowed to download the app through the catalog. I had hoped that if the "legacy" devices wouldn't get the upgrade, at least they would now allow the same devices to download hybrids off the catalog, since hybrids work on ALL devices (despite what their PDK documentation might say). Turns out, they won't allow hybrids on all devices, since they all but abandoned users of 1.4.5.

Gradients are working much better in webOS 3.0, coming on the HP TouchPad

Running native C/C++ code is pretty cutting-edge stuff. It's essentially the Chrome Native Client, on mobile. I've developed a pretty nice app using a native plugin. Unfortunately, most current webOS users won't get to use it because, although the PDK was released last year and, at least for my app, hybrids work perfectly on all webOS devices running at least webOS 1.4.5, Palm (and now HP) has decided to restrict hybrid apps in the app catalog only to webOS 2.1 users, which are very few and far between right now.

but does it tether?


There is even a free tethering solution. Install via Preware.

If you wanna go the "official" route, you can pay VZW (and AT&T?) to have it act like a MiFi and connect up to five devices to it over WiFi. So awesome. But it does burn through batteries. The good news is...the Pre has REPLACEABLE BATTERIES! And they're cheap as hell on Amazon.

It was the first device to have WiFi tethering, so yes.

Even the new Veer has tethering available from AT&T. All webOS phones are capable of tethering, the older models being capable of wifi, bluetooth, and usb tethering.

I would love it but I can't make myself like an HP product because HP has been selling thousands frozen WindowsXP + IE6 computers to the universities in my country.

Considering how many management changes ago it was and the number of different divisions in HP, that's almost like not liking Germany today for WWII. How many years ago that happened? (IE6? must've been ~2004)

I wish it had been ~2004 but it has been happening since 2008. They sold that crappy computers to one of the biggest and newest university libraries in Europe.

So, I have a real reason to ignore HP products even if they have great platform.

Because they sold them something they were willing to buy? Sorry, that doesn't make any sense.

As a coder, ethical behavior of the company behind the platform I use is very important to me.

Where's your proof that this behavior was unethical? I know nonprofits and educational institutions that still require IE6 today due to various reasons, and some on XP because they haven't okayed an upgrade cycle even if they're not using it. No offense intended, but your claims are difficult to take seriously. This sounds significantly more like "I don't like that they use Microsoft" than anything to do with what kind of Microsoft software they sold.

In the overwhelming majority of these cases that I've seen, there is much more going on than "derp, we're gonna give them IE6 because we're eeeeeevil."

(And if that "ethical behavior" is really so important to you, you might as well just stop using computers because each and every one of them are, on one level or another, not fundamentally opposed to screwing the next guy to get ahead. Don't use Google or Yahoo. Don't use Twitter or Facebook. Don't send network packets over Cisco hardware. Don't buy Intel hardware. Don't buy AMD hardware. Don't buy nVidia graphics cards. The list goes on.

Even everybody's favorite guys over at Canonical have demonstrated a willingness to screw people over, viz. the Banshee project.)

Eropple, selling thousands of frozen computers with IE6 sounds ok for you? it's clear that there is nothing to talk about.

There's nothing "frozen" about a computer that has IE6.

I would respectfully suggest that you look and see if you're upset because they've got IE6 on them or because they've got Microsoft software on them. Your phrasing and behavior suggests the latter.

It seems you've been commenting without trying to understand what "frozen" means. I'm not surprised, go on

If you are using words in a non-standard way, it behooves you to actually clarify and explain what you mean.

You are doing little to change the impression of "upset Linux fanboy" that you created in your first post and have strengthened since.

I'm a fanboy of nothing except six things;

- freedom - freedom - freedom - wtf public license - good software - user friendly business models

You're right, I'm an upset linux fanboy. I'm upset about the time we've lost because of recent internet explorer versions and the companies supporting junk software instead of the modern ones.

adoption is so low gsmarena doesn't even list on the advanced search OS list...

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