Palm Updates webOS

Palm has unveiled the next generation of its mobile OS platform -- webOS 2.0 -- and made the SDK available via the SDK Early Access Program.

A release date for webOS 2.0 wasn't detailed in the announcement, but the blog posting did say it would be out "later this year."

Palm calls webOS 2.0 "the biggest webOS update yet," and touts a host of new features. Among them are:

  • Stacks, a card metaphor for mobile device multi-tasking. Stacks groups related cards, which Palm says reduces clutter and makes it easier to move between tasks.
  • Just Type, a search engine that's been expanded with a new feature called Quick Actions. Palm says that Just Type allows users to "Start an e-mail, create a message, update your status, search your favorite Web sites -- all without having to launch an app." Just Type, explains Palm, enables searching with an app, and is developer-customizable to further enhance its capabilities.
  • Exhibition, for docked devices. Exhibition is for phones sitting on Palm's Touchstone Charging Dock. The app could be anything -- an alarm clock, slideshow, news or sports trackers, etc. An app using Exhibition will launch automatically when placed on the dock.

The question is how many developers will be interested in the webOS update. Palm's smartphone devices are a blip on the radar, in terms of market share, despite being highly regarded by customers and reviewers.

That may change, however, following the acquisition by HP earlier this year. The new parent company is likely to sink a lot more money into marketing and advertising than Palm, as well as more development funding.

In addition, webOS will probably be the underlying OS for an upcoming HP tablet. HP announced in its Q3 2010 earnings call that there will be a "webOS-based product in early 2011." Although specifics were not mentioned, HP has been talking for some time about the potential it sees in the tablet market, and the success of Apple's iPad has verified that potential. 

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.