The HP TouchPad homebrew community is already alive and well

Summary:I have only owned my TouchPad for a couple of days but am happy to report the TouchPad homebrew community is active and producing good stuff.

There are always folks who love to tinker with their gadgets, and many platforms have a homebrew community that supports that effort. Developers release homebrew patches, apps and themes to make gadgets work better than they did before. When I bought my Palm Pre back in the early days of webOS, the homebrew community was vital to get good apps due to the lack of options available in the official app store. The webOS homebrew community was organized, even producing apps to make working with homebrew apps as easy as the official store apps. I have only owned my TouchPad for a couple of days but am happy to report the TouchPad homebrew community is already active and producing good stuff for those willing to go through a little effort.

The home of the webOS homebrew community is webos-internals.org, the makers of the Preware app. Details can be found for every homebrew app, patch and theme for webOS phones and now the TouchPad can be found on precentral.net. Most users taking advantage of homebrew stuff do so through the nice Preware app, which turns finding and installing homebrew apps as simple as using the official app store. The site has instructions for getting started using Preware and homebrew stuff for those new to the scene. Note that the homebrew stuff works on the TouchPad just as well as on the phones. Once Preware is installed all interaction with the homebrew catalogue takes place over-the-air (OTA), making it very simple to test new things.

There are not a lot of homebrew stuff for the TouchPad since the tablet has only been out for a few days. Notably a couple of "patches" are available that are impressive. One is a patch that speeds up the animation of the cards on the home screen by a factor of up to four. This makes things notably zippy once installed. Another nice patch I have installed is the Glass Effect Suite, a theme for the TouchPad that turns system displays translucent so you can see your task cards in the background. Both of these patches are working for me with no issues, but as with all homebrew solutions install them at your own risk.

I am looking forward to see how fast the TouchPad homebrew selection grows, as I suspect it will be very fast. I remember how many developers in the early webOS days used the homebrew method to beta test apps prior to launching commercially. A lot of really good apps were in the hands of users long before they were commercially available. This will be particularly important for the TouchPad due to the lack of apps in the official store.

Be sure and donate to these homebrew organizations and developers to keep them pumping out good stuff for us all.

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Topics: Hardware

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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