Apple and the iOS have been enjoying themselves. Since the time the iPhone has been introduced into our lives, not only do we now have a reason for ignoring our dinner companions, but Apple has trekked to the top of the mobile device market. As a company, the iPhone has helped place Apple among the elite companies of the world, even becoming more valuable than its chief rival, Microsoft.
Not content to just sit on the sidelines, there have been competitors trying to put a sizable dent into the slice of the market pie that Apple has cut for themselves. RIM and the Blackberry maintain a strong, loyal fanbase despite there seeming to be a lack of production lately from an app development perspective. The biggest competitor of course is the Android. Versatile yes, but far from perfect. Would a worthy competitor ever come along?
Pretty quickly after the iPhone had come out, Palm had released a phone called the Pre. It seemed to, on the surface, do everything that iPhone fans had demanded of the product they loved so dearly yet would never part with. It had a multitasking system that was efficient, copy paste, search functionality and a tactile keyboard along with a touch screen. The problems that phone had weren’t with the software, it was with the shoddy plastic casing and scratch magnet-like screen that was its downfall.
The software was solid then, and now after a few years of watching from the sidelines and having partnered with HP, the Palm OS now titled HP webOS is upon us. How does it stack up to it’s mighty opponent? Let’s take a look at HP webOS’s main features.
Sounds like a simple enough concept, and for the most part something that every mobile OS has managed to achieve, if not perfect to a certain extent. How could something so simple, be made any better? Simple. By making it a simple thing.
On the HP Pre3 and Veer, the process is literally a just type process. By sliding out the tactile keyboard and starting to type it activates the search function, and from there much like Spotlight on iOS, you can find addresses, emails, etc.
On the Touchpad it’s a little trickier, but still incredibly simple. The “home screen” interface on webOS utilizes a card, or a “stack” system. It’s similar to the way you can have separate pages on Safari on iOS. The great thing about the stack system though is that the search function is always at the top of the screen. By just typing, that field automatically fills and the home screen switches to a search page. Brilliantly simple, immensely effective and gloriously efficient. All of without having mentioned the fact that you’ll notice the number bar across the top of the horizontal keyboard, in addition to the feature that allows you to change the size of the keyboard should you prefer to do that.
HP Synergy/Touchstone Technology
HP webOS has a unique feature in that you can obtain a webOS user account that synchronizes all of your devices. Sounds a lot like the service that Apple offers for $99 a year (MobileMe) but where HP begins to separate itself is how it delivers that synchronization performance.
HP Synergy combined with the webOS user account will automatically sync up contacts, calendar events and third party apps. The most amazing part, however, is that by utilizing the webOS user account — if you have an HP phone, and the TouchPad — you can answer calls and text messages on either device!
Touchstone technology is the other big feature of the webOS that will be on these great products. Remember the Microsoft Surface computer? It never went away, but Microsoft has never furthered the development of that type of technology to be put into the hands of consumers, at least not in the sense of the surface being interactive with more than just fingers. HP has managed to minimize this feature onto their products using Touchstone technology. Imagine receiving an email on your phone, but writing the reply will take a little longer than it takes to type on your Pre3.
Well, with the email fresh on your phones screen, simply place the phone on top of the screen of the TouchPad, the TouchPad wakes up, both devices synchronize and voila! That email is now on your TouchPad screen ready to be replied to. This technology is also used to charge it wirelessly (think PowerMat chargers)
These are just a few of the biggest features of the newly announced line of products from HP/Palm. We here at Rocksauce can’t wait to get our hands on these and look forward to exploring what new things this OS has to offer for developers to make even better apps in the future.