All about HP webOS

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It is easy to see that the mobile phones (smart phones, tablet) OS is much more diverse than the world of desktop. Of course, if we consider only the really popular, recognized platform, otherwise we would have lost count, just remembering all distributions of Linux. Explain this relatively simple. First of all, small form computer hardware do not involve the expansion and not in need of industrial standards (similar to, say, IBM PC), and energy efficiency (uptime) of them listed above productivity, which limits the range of applications. As a result of the creation of the mobile OS is on the shoulder, even major manufacturer of terminals (that is, generally speaking, is his core business), which is without a doubt ‘grinds’ the hardware design and software platform to each other. Usually involves a variety of choices, but in this case, we unfortunately do not have, because with few exceptions can only change the platform together with the device itself. In the future it will be probably even more rare – due to the development and popularization of mobile software, which will be acquired solely in their respective stores.

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It turns out that, although the characteristics of mobile devices is largely dependent on the software platform, to compare them with each other ordinary user does not actually possible, and accordingly, many worthy products pass by him. A living example – HP webOS. Fortunately, still alive, although the HP, it seems to have completely disappointed in this project. Mobile devices the company has never been particularly popular: apparently, they did not have enough charisma – and the purely technical aspects for consumer devices are not of primary importance. Experiment with a sharp (up to $ 99) price reduction on the HP TouchPad has led to instant sale of stock, but it looked like a gesture of despair. However, HP in any event promises some time to support webOS and yet keeps his word: most recently published another update 3.04, which not only corrects errors but also adds some functionality which. Meanwhile, webOS is really quite interesting, especially the technical side – many of the solutions to which were famous rivals for years, from version to version, it was originally laid. Hopefully, webOS still continue to exist, albeit under the name already the new owner, who, according to rumors, it may be, for example, Amazon.


For the first time webOS was introduced in 2009 by Palm as a replacement for its former Palm OS, obsolete and demanded a major upgrade. New mobile operating system created from scratch, it was a decisive step, which required considerable effort. In particular, for compatibility with third-party software for Palm OS, in webOS 1.0, debuted at number one smartphone new line of Palm Pre, had included a special emulator Classic. However, it soon became clear that much sense in it were not, and he was gone already safely out of webOS 2.0. History webOS can tell and many other amusing examples: for example, one of the reasons for developing it from scratch was to provide a multi-tasking, though today we know that this is not a prerequisite for the success of the mobile platform

Palm managed to release a few more terminals, in particular Palm Pixi and models with additional marking Plus for operator Verizon, as well as the updated flagship Palm Pre 2, but, as you might guess, very successful Palm they brought, and in the spring of 2010, the company was acquired by HP, precisely because of webOS. HP spore set to work, webOS 2.0 was introduced in autumn 2010 already under its brand – though a number of previous devices were left without updating the platform. But in early 2011, were presented to the new terminals webOS 2.2 (HP Pre 3 and diminutive HP Veer), and July 1, 2011 – Tablet HP TouchPad with webOS 3.0 (numerological coincidences with Android is also quite curious.) HP is also supposed to use webOS in personal computers (perhaps as a second, lightweight operating system) and printers, but these plans have not come true. August 18, 2011 HP announced its intention to get rid of the unit to personal systems, and although two months later this decision was reversed by a new leadership, the development of webOS is still stopped, and at best will be licensed to third parties. At the same time HP does not waive release tablets, but on Windows 8.


So, webOS was designed from the ground up in a fairly short period of time, which clearly indicates the use developments open source. Indeed, based on webOS on the kernel Linux: in releases 1.x-2.1 – version 2.6.24, in the future – more and more new ones, and finally, in 3.x – 2.6.35. Supports standard driver architecture, file systems, ext3 (for system partitions) and fat32 (external drive). List of all relevant components and packages can be found on this page. The architecture of webOS 2.0 – the version of unambiguous evidence Wednesday Mojo Framework, because of webOS 3.0 in its place came Enyo, adapted to a relatively large screen tablet. In any case, applications for webOS are means of HTML / CSS / JavaScript and run under the control User Interface (UI) System Manager, which, as you might guess, is built on the engine, the browser – specifically, WebKit.


However, it is possible to use webOS and high-performance code in C / C + +. For these purposes, the developers offered Plug-In Development Kit (PDK), which is added to the standard SDK and allows you to create literally plug-ins, ie, the components that connect to applications through a mechanism similar to that used in conventional browsers. In the PDK uses GCC, OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0, multimedia library SDL (Simple DirectMedia Library) and its extension PDL (Palm Development Library), which provides access to a specific hardware webOS-devices. PDL, incidentally, continued to expand and webOS 3.x, because the additional equipment tablet more varied.

Unfortunately, the abundance of software webOS can not boast. On the one hand, tools and technologies to develop for it can be safely attributed to one of the most simple and clear, on the other, probably, HTML / CSS / JavaScript – while not the best means of creating a relatively complex software. For example, included in the webOS package for working with office documents Quickoffice is just a collection of programs for viewing. Of course, the plates were intended to serve primarily for content consumption, but the ability to make the documents at least minimal changes undoubtedly would be useful. Google, which also strongly promotes the HTML-environment encourages third party developers by example, and HP, unfortunately, so can not boast. The situation is not rectified and too prevailing around webOS community is ‘natural’ development, manufacturing ‘patch’ for the platform (for instance, to overclock the CPU to the maximum frequency TouchPad), and some programs that propagate and establish non-standard way.


As mentioned above, webOS has replaced Palm OS, which at some point become significantly inferior to its main competitors. Among the latter, at that time, including Symbian and Windows Mobile. It is interesting that Palm felt the need for multitasking, whereas Microsoft’s Windows Phone just tried to give it up. However, it is now clear to all that multitasking in mobile platforms must have a specific form, and Palm, it seems, managed to find quite a good solution.

From a purely technical point of view, webOS can simultaneously run multiple applications, each asks the system necessary amount of computational resources, which manages the actual release of System Manager. The user can interact simultaneously with just one application, all other transfers in specific background state, which for them is completely closed or severely restricted access to many system services and energy-intensive functions, artificially decreasing the frequency of their visits to the network, etc. However, among other things background applications can issue the necessary notification to be displayed and stored in the status bar without interfering with the ongoing work of the user and quietly waiting for his reaction.

Godsend webOS was a mechanism to access back-end applications. It is called ‘maps’ – maps are reduced screenshots of applications that you can scroll horizontally. Application into a map using any hardware button, or a special gesture (as if to ‘tear off’ a picture from the bottom of the screen). In fact, the application can use multiple cards: for example, created separate browser for each new Web page – in this case they are automatically grouped together (this possibility has appeared in webOS 2.0) and appear ‘stacked’, superimposed on each other. The same structure can be created independently of any cards, arranging them as desired to facilitate future location and use. Note also that the self webOS applications will not close, following the exhaustion of memory, the user simply can not start another. To close the application simply ‘throw’ his card at the top or bottom of the screen – very natural and easy gesture.

By the way, the idea of ??cards webOS clearly visible in the implementation of control applications in the background Windows Phone 7.5, and partly even in Windows 8. Although, of course, we are not talking about blind imitation, in each case has its peculiarities.


Another great idea webOS – the union of different online sources in a single view of information – called Synergy, which may well be taken literally. Embedded applications Contacts, Email, Calendar, Messaging is a kind of hub, shells, which connect the various online services, such as: Google Apps, Facebook or Microsoft Exchange. Each account can be linked to the necessary applications, which will then reduce all sources together – for example, you can at once see all incoming mail and contacts from various services with identical names will be perceived as one. After setting up all the information will be updated automatically: for example, regardless of who corrected the contact information – you are in the postal service or your friend in a social network – all changes will be reflected on the device soon. List of accessible online services rather big, but not exhaustive (for obvious gaps – Twitter and Microsoft Messenger), was supposed to add additional applications through the store.

However, the implementation of the Synergy has its nuances – so, if you delete the account (of course, they were not checked for all services, the incident occurred with Skype) contacts can be saved in the system, and subsequently their need to manually clean out one by one. This is not so critical when experimenting with the device owner, but the browser or third-party tester can be an unpleasant surprise. However, the webOS has several options (of varying complexity and completeness) district removed from the system user settings, applications and data.


A curious feature of the latest generation of devices on the webOS is a thoughtful way they interact with each other. The first is, of course, concerns pairs of tablet and smartphone, the very happy owner who receives an additional degree of freedom. Connecting them with each other via Bluetooth, you can receive and make calls and work with SMS directly from the tablet. This is useful, for example, on the road, where you can safely remove the phone in your bag, immerse the tablet in a book or a movie and do not be afraid to miss a call. HP obviously wanted to create an ecosystem of its webOS-devices, which should ideally interact with each other. This, in particular, aims and function Touch to Share (ie, ‘touch to share’) – if you have a webOS-open device, the desired Web page, it is enough to touch them in a special way with another webOS-device to automatically open it and there. Here, obviously, comes into effect, the same mechanism that is used for induction charging.

The same touch can quickly connect devices via Bluetooth, but that both must be registered under one account HP webOS. In the latest update webOS 3.04 an opportunity to connect to HP TouhPad and any other devices, although to predict what features will work with and what does not – it is impossible. For example, an old smartphone running Windows Mobile 6.5 has been detected as ‘other devices’, while he himself took the TouchPad as a Bluetooth-headset. In any case, it is possible to receive calls on the tablet. HTC Mozart with the updated Windows Phone 7.5 was found already quite well as a phone, though fully set on the scanner to work with SMS could not – he reacted to the arrival of the message, but not display it, by offering to call back the sender (and this can be done with a voice team). Probably all depends on the characteristics of the Bluetooth module and implement the required profiles. In any case, this functionality can be gradually brought clearly to mind.

In the implementation of the phone functions as well as watching the approach Synergy – application Phone & Video Calls combines Skype and connected smartphone, and in the future for them certainly could add other voice services.

Just type

‘Just print’ – so called cross-cutting integrated search system that lets you quickly find the information on the device as well as on the Internet. The name speaks for itself: for devices with hardware keyboard to activate this feature is really only enough to start pushing buttons while on the start screen (in the documentation it is called Card view), otherwise, you must first select the appropriate field. It covers most of the local stores, including contacts, e-mail (sender name and subject line), bookmarks and information from the media. The contents of letters and documents are not indexed, apparently for reasons of energy conservation, but is open API and third-party developers to extend capabilities Just type. In addition, this feature allows you to get quick access to some popular activities – for example, to update the status on Facebook.


In this review, attention was paid to deliberately mainly systemic features, which are the hallmark webOS. Treat your applications today is not very interesting, because in most cases, successful development quickly spread to all the popular mobile platforms. In the end, Angry Birds look and work identically on any device – from PC to smartphone, and there is no problem (of course, in cases where stores are available in our country) to choose a more convenient media player, instant messaging programs, etc.

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All about HP webOS, Seekyt
General Contributor
Janice is a writer from Chicago, IL. She created the "simple living as told by me" newsletter with more than 12,000 subscribers about Living Better and is a founder of Seekyt.