HP TouchPad: Homebrew patches that improve productivity

Summary:Here are some homebrew patches that make core apps on the HP TouchPad work better by adding cool options.

It is estimated nearly a million TouchPads have been sold by HP, making it one of the top-selling tablets behind the iPad. True they were sold at ridiculously low prices, but there are a lot of buyers happily using a darn good tablet as a result.

One of the strengths of the webOS platform is the homebrew development community building patches to the system to improve operation. Many of these are designed to give better performance by altering things behind the scenes, while others improve core apps to make them better serve the user's needs. The letter patches (available through the PreWare system) add features that become part of the core app once applied. Here are some good patches that make the apps work better.

UberCalendar HD. The Calendar app on the TouchPad is a decent application, but missing some functionality that this patch adds. UberCalendar adds a wonderful agenda view in the left pane of the display that displays all events collected from the view on the right-hand pane. The patch also adds a host of settings that can be enabled through the Calendar app preferences. While the standard Calendar app defaults to Day view only, this patch lets you choose the one you prefer (day, week, month). It is a primary example of one of the major advantages to webOS over other platforms: the ability to patch core apps instead of writing whole new apps to replace them.

ThumbNav Browser Controls. The TouchPad browser is very good, but the simple menu this patch adds makes it even better. With a simple swipe in from either the left or right edge of the display, a little menu pops up on the side of the screen presenting common tasks such as Next, Previous, and Add Bookmark. You can also fire off another instance of the browser to do other things. The ability to do these common tasks without moving you hand to the top of the screen is far more useful than you might think.

Browser Power Swipe. For those wanting an easy method for moving back and forward in the browser, this patch adds simple gestures to perform that function. Just swipe back to return to the previous web page or forward to go to the next page in the sequence.

Launch with Folder View Minimized. The email app in webOS is very good, but this little patch suits my preferences better. The Folder View normally displays on the left, showing email folders (Inbox, Starred, etc.). Since I almost always work in the Inbox folder, I was always collapsing this Folder View pane to devote more screen to the actual email. This patch does that by default.

Always Show Previous and Next Buttons. This patch adds buttons facilitating moving back and forth between individual email messages in the email app. They appear at the bottom of each email to make it a simple tap to move up or down in the messages list.

There are other patches available in the PreWare homebrew system and it is worth scanning through them to see if there are others you might find useful. The patches I have listed here are easy to use yet add a lot of functionality to my daily TouchPad usage.

Additional HP TouchPad coverage:

Topics: Hewlett-Packard, Security

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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