Little T in the Cog mobile

Open webOS 1.0 Released


Well it's finally happened - the 1.0 release of Open webOS has been announced. What this means is that manufacturers can now take this source code and theoretically get it up and running on their own hardware, or hobbyists can port it to "open" android hardware such as the Nexus line.

In fact this is exactly what the Open webOS Ports Team has done - only a few hours after the source was released they have it booting on a Galaxy Nexus (though there is a long way to go before it is usable as a phone), a pretty amazing feat. And this is just the beginning I suspect - if there is one thing I've learned during my time using webOS it's that the webOS Internals team are coding machines, I'm amazed at the speed at which they pump out tweaks and improvements and also the quality of their work, often better than factory!

My Nokia N9 uses an open mode kernel - I'd love to dual boot webOS on that!

UPDATE: And now it's running on a Transformer Prime

UPDATE 2: And running on a Nexus S, these devs don't mess about!

What could have been part 2


Some of Palm/HP's old marketing materials have come to light showing what would have been the first webOS phone without a physical QWERTY keyboard. It looks like the original images have been removed from webOS Nation story, but a quick check on Google Images turns up plenty of copies of it:


I wonder if this had come out if I'd be carrying it in my pocket rather than my Nokia N9...

The rise and fall of webOS


Chris Ziegler over at The Verge has written up a brilliant article chronicling the rise and fall of Palm as a company along with webOS. It shows (again!) how far ahead of the competition webOS was on so many levels yet also how badly burned Palm got by the carriers, as well as making their own management blunders along the way, delays to software and team infighting. One can only wonder what might have been if Palm didn't get shafted by Verizon and also had had the finances to continue on without having to be bought out by HP (who also royally shafted them with changes in management/focus along the way).

A definite must-read for any webOS fan, and a lesson for everyone that it isn't always the best product that wins.

What could have been


I just read a brief article over at webOS Nation about the original plan for Palm after it was purchased by HP - basically HP were going to throw a bit of money Palm's way but otherwise leave the cash strapped company to run itself for three years to try and get into a competitive position. But one year into this plan Mark Hurd (the CEO in charge when HP purchased Palm) was out and Leo Apotheker was in and canned the whole thing.

I can't help but wonder where Palm/webOS would be today, what devices we would be using if only HP had stuck to the plan.

Time for a new phone?


I haven't owned my little Veer for too long now (coming up on 6 months) but the honeymoon is starting to wear a bit thin. It's currently running webOS 2.2.3 (as 2.2.4 had a particular problem where every third call or so all sound would be lost and not just my end - the person I was talking to couldn't hear me either) which has proven to be a relatively stable release but it still has its quirks* and it's pretty obvious that this is the end of the road for webOS on smartphones so it'll never see an update. I've been impressed at the speed of the uptake of Open webOS by the Open Source community but the current open sourcing roadmap doesn't see a full release until September this year by which time the phone will be even older and further behind the competition.

The only problem (apart from the fact that I've only owned this phone for half a year so it really is a bit too early to replace it!) is the only thing I've found that I'd like to replace it with is the Nokia N9 which is also a bit of a dead end, although a completely gorgeous dead end, especially in white! And it would be nice to have 64Gb space after the meagre 8Gb that the Veer packs (with only about 5.5Gb free for music etc by the time the OS is installed). One thing I'm going to keep my eye on is the port of Android 4.0 ("Ice Cream Sandwich") to the N9 which seems to be progressing forward at a decent rate as ICS on that phone would be amazing (it already has no buttons on the front so would suit it perfectly). To top it all off I've found a source here in NZ where I can buy a white 64Gb N9 which is pretty much the best looking phone out today in my opinion and I'd be happy using Meego until Android gets ported (but not happy with the lack of apps - I've already suffered that enough with the whole webOS saga), assuming it ever does get completely ported!

Or maybe I'm just a tech magpie and want something shiny and new and should simply wait...

* The most annoying thing is the little magnetic connector for the headphone jack sometimes doesn't register itself as clipped on properly and it can take a few goes to get sound coming out the headphones - I have to do this nearly every time and when I'm listening to music/podcasts on my way to work on my motorbike it can sometimes stop mid ride if the connector gets jostled in my pocket. Other than that it hasn't been to bad, just occasional lag and freezes after it's been running for several days without reboot and since the Skype integration any contacts which I have a Skype ID for too seem to get their names replaced by the Skype name...

Note: I'm completely happy with my TouchPad which recently got updated to 3.0.5 and is running smoothly, it's just the phones I'd like to see some love given too as it just feels so unfinished. Dreams are free I guess.

webOS 2.2.4 on the veer


Well I couldn't wait - with AT&T dragging it's feet over the Veer update (and really, after being so badly burned by HP who can blame them?) I've gone ahead and run the manual update procedure to bring my Veer up to 2.2.4 (which the Pre 2 and Pre 3 are also now on). I've been using it like this for about 10 days now and I'm really pleased - it certainly seems a bit more responsive and I haven't come across some of the bugs I used to get on 2.1.2 (like phone crashing, too-many-card errors even when there weren't any other cards open etc). The only problem I've had so far was once when going from my hands free kit in the car to normal speaker all sound stopped and I couldn't hear the other person at all until I rebooted the phone but hopefully I won't encounter that particular bug again :-)

But the main thing is I now have Skype integration! I've used it a few times already and it works really well (no camera obviously as the Veer has no forward facing camera), integrating seamlessly with the phone dialler and the messaging app (all txt's, Google talk and Skype updates appear in the same message thread - really handy!). As well as that I can now send and receive txt messages on my TouchPad (not really too fussed about this tbh but is kinda neat), the camera app starts up much faster and everything seems to scroll around much smoother than before.

It's not all gravy however - the biggest problem is my battery life seems to have taken a bit of a hit since the upgrade (I'm hoping that this is because I'm always signed into Skype which should stop once the novelty wears off a bit, I'll try tomorrow going without being signed in and see if that improves things) and also Bing maps have got even worse (I didn't think that was possible!), being very slow to load and stuttering badly when panning around. I want my Google maps back HP! Seriously, Bing may be awesome in the US but here in NZ it is next to useless...

I know it's been said so much it should be Palm's slogan but *this* is the software version that the Veer should have been released on!

webOS 2.2.4 rolling out to Pre2 owners


Well it looks like owners of the Pre2 are getting an over-the-air update - webOS 2.2.4 is now available! I'm hoping this means that an update to my poor veer can't be far behind! I'm not at all fussed about Touch-to-Share with the TouchPad but would really like Skype on my phone. A member of the Precentral forums has managed to get a system image of 2.2.3 off a Veer that was sold on Ebay and another image of 2.2.4 from a European Veer that escaped the lab and has posted instructions on how to run the update yourself manually.

I've downloaded all the files and saved his instructions in case they get removed but I think I'll wait a bit to see if HP release it officially first - I'm hoping the fact that they're updating the older Pre2 means that the Veer can't be too far behind. If nothing shows up over the next few months I'll take the plunge and update anyway :-)

Here's hoping that HP are still pressing on with development!*

*There is also talk going around of an update to the TouchPad (3.0.5) which I also hope comes true... I'll believe it when I see it!

webOS 2.2.3 coming for the veer?


Well it looks like there is an update for my poor Veer which has been out now for nearly half a year with no new webOS love - the only problem is it hasn't been released yet. Over on the PreCentral forums a user reports that he bought a Veer off ebay from someone who claims to "work for Palm" and it came preloaded with 2.2.3 - he even has a video up to prove it.

Nobody knows how long this update has been ready or why it hasn't been released officially (it could be that HP/Palm have had it ready for a while but AT&T don't want to bother putting it through carrier approval, although that doesn't explain why the European unlocked Veers still don't have it either) but hopefully they release it soon or I imagine that it will likely leak out anyway. I personally hope this comes out sooner rather than later as I've had a few issues with my Veer and I'm hoping that there are a few bug fixes in there. Even better than that, this update finally brings Skype to the Veer which I've been wanting for a while now - I have two siblings living over seas and it'd be great to be able to Skype them from my phone rather than my laptop or TouchPad.

So come on HP - release the damn update already! I know the platform is dying, but lets make the death a little less painless...

webOS 3.0.4 for TouchPad released


HP just pushed out an update to the TouchPad - going from version 3.0.2 to 3.0.4. Wow, what a difference! Seriously, this is a massive improvement in "snappiness" and general smoothness when scrolling through lists, web pages etc.

The webOS Internals team haven't yet released all the patches and updated kernels for this version yet (it normally takes them a few days of testing to make sure everything works) but to be honest I don't feel I need the faster kernel - it honestly feels just as smooth running at 1.2GHz on 3.0.4 as it did running at 1.5GHz on 3.0.2 (and hopefully I might get a smidgin more battery life out of it too at the slower clock speed). There are a couple of patches that I miss but I can happily wait a few days for them now that a bunch of annoying bugs have been squashed in this update (improved browser speed and rendering, small changes to the music player app, much improved app catalog etc) and the best change - I can now connect my phone to the TouchPad via bluetooth and make and receive calls on it, great when I'm already wearing my headphones connected to the TouchPad as I listen to music on it at work :-)

When the updated overclock kernels get released this thing will fly!

I've got a Veer


I've replaced my trusty old Palm Pre with a new HP Veer. I bought it brand new in the box unlocked off ebay and had it shipped here to NZ for a very reasonable price - my guess is it's reasonable due to the fact that HP was selling these little phones for $49 to get rid of stock so some people grabbed a whole bunch and put them up on ebay!

This is the first webOS device that I haven't felt the need to overclock - this tiny phone packs an 800MHz Qualcomm Snapdragon backed up with 512MB RAM and with such a low resolution screen to refresh (the little 2.6 inch screen is only 320x400 pixels) it flies along much faster than my Pre Plus running at 1GHz (overclocked). Apart from the speed though it hasn't all been plain sailing - webOS seems to be particularly buggy on this phone with some random lockups and occasional touchscreen weirdness (usually after it's been running for a few days without a restart) and although I'm hoping HP will push out an update I'm not holding my breath as they said they were going to add touch-to-share to it as an over the air update many months ago and I haven't heard a thing. Even if Palm/HP release the update (which is meant to bring the webOS version in line with the Pre3 which is running 2.2 against the Veer's 2.1.2), something which is looking less likely as each month passes, then they might still have to get carrier approval to release it over the air to the devices and I hear that AT&T is none too pleased with HP right now due to them cancelling the Pre3 without notice mere days before it was meant to be released so are unlikely to devote time testing the update against a product that has been discontinued. So all up I'll be pretty amazed (but very happy!) if the Veer gets an update.

It's not all doom and gloom though, generally the phone runs well and I've been really happy with the battery life which has proven to be better than my girlfriend's iPhone 4 (not to mention it looks so damn cute that she says if she didn't already have the iPhone then she'd buy the Veer in an instant!). The keyboard is excellent, much better than my Pre and Pre Plus despite being a little bit smaller (the keys have a really positive, clicky feel to them) and the screen is easy to navigate in spite of it's tiny size.

So why did I buy this and not the Pre3? Well at the time the AT&T Pre3 hadn't been released (actually it still hasn't, not officially anyway!) and so I thought this was my last chance to get the most up-to-date webOS hardware before all the devices vanished, and the few that had made it out into the wild were going for over US$500 on ebay which was a bit rich for a device with pretty much no future. But of course now that I've owned the Veer about a month there are lots of Pre3's on ebay going for around US$200 which is a great price for a powerful, unlocked smartphone, even one with no future. It would be nice to have the latest and greatest, the last ever webOS device made.

Now all I have to do is justify buying yet *another* phone to my girlfriend...