WebOS: The Other Smartphone/Tablet Linux

WebOS: The Other Smartphone/Tablet Linux

Summary: We already have numerous desktop Linuxes; and Android and MeeGo for smartphones and tablets; now HP wants to make webOS popular.

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I think that you can have too much of a good thing. I mean, I like that there are so many significant Linux distributions to choose from for servers and desktops. And, OK, I can see there being room for both Android and MeeGo on smartphones and tablets, but, really HP, do we need yet another Linux-based operating system, webOS, for tablets, phones, and netbooks? I don't think so!

Regardless of what I think, the rumor-mill is going full-speed ahead that, on February 9th, HP will be showing off new smartphones, tablets and maybe even netbooks running webOS. Some folks, like James Kendrick, think that this news would be the cat's meow. "Of all the product categories HP is considering for webOS, the tablet has me excited as I believe the OS is so fitting for the tablet form that it can take the competition by storm." Really? Much as I like the idea of Android on tablets, once Google clears up exactly what it's doing for programmers with Android for different platforms, I can't see anyone storming Apple's iPad anytime soon.

As Sean Portnoy points out though, "Apple has the early advantage and the ubiquity of Android means it will grab a big share of the tablet market just as it's done with smartphones." Exactly so. That being the case, what does webOS bring to the table that will blow the others away? Or, for that matter, even make HP's offerings competitive?

WebOS, like both Android and MeeGo, is based on Linux. It also uses a lot of other open-source components such as BusyBox, the Swiss-army knife of embedded Linux command sets; the GStreamer multimedia library; and numerous other common Linux programs.

On top of this though, developers will find the webOS software developer kit (SDK) with the Mojo Framework and the Plug-in Development Kit (PDK). None of these are open source . With the SDK and Mojo, programmers can create Web-based applications using JavaScript, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), HTML and the WebKit open-source, Web-browser engine. The PDK, which enables the use of C and C++, can be used to port applications from other platforms, such as the iPhone, to webOS devices.

For users, so far, webOS offers such features as JustType and HP Synergy. JustType enables you to simply start typing and then pick the application that you want to act on whatever you just typed in. So, for example, if you typed in "Pizza," you could either do a Google search for the word or choose to find the closest pizza joint on Google Maps. Synergy gives you a single interface to your social networking, instant-messaging and e-mail from multiple sources automatically. So, for example, you can see your friends' Facebook status; read your Gmail and Exchange mail; and view your AOL and Yahoo IMs in one place.

This is all well and good, but when you put them all together, will this make the forthcoming HP webOS family compelling to either developers or users? I can't see it.

If this had appeared last year, just as Apple was rolling out the iPad, sure, it could have been a contender. But today? With a swarm of Android tablets finally arriving to the market? With the iPad 2 just months away? Sorry HP. Too little, too late.

Topics: Hewlett-Packard, Android, Software, Operating Systems, Open Source, Mobility, Linux, Laptops, Hardware, Google, Tablets

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64 comments
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  • RE: WebOS: The Other Smartphone/Tablet Linux

    I disagree. iOS is truly hype and we should wait to see what webOS brings us before shooting it down. The beauty of technology is that it can always be improved and there is always room for another competitor.
    groovygirl
    • Do not forget ***BadaOS*** from Samsung; they say it is great

      @groovygirl: ... and even more promising than Android.
      DDERSSS
      • RE: WebOS: The Other Smartphone/Tablet Linux

        @denisrs.....Who is going to give Samsung a shot? All they've done in recent history up to present is alienate their android user base as well as the carriers. Nobody will want to support their efforts if they don't support their customers. So don't see Bada doing anything. Samsung just keeps digging their grave deeper and deeper.
        crogs
    • RE: WebOS: The Other Smartphone/Tablet Linux

      @groovygirl

      Hype? Based on what?
      DeusXMachina
  • RE: WebOS: The Other Smartphone/Tablet Linux

    This is great! hopefully Google, Microsoft and HP can fight for top spot while the rest of us use iOS with our ipads and ipods that sync and charge on every device in our house and connect to our Apple TV!

    Only techies hate Apple, go figure... my technician at my company asked my if I was A+ certified when I told him that my hard drive was making clicking noises and might go out... he kept arguing with me then 2 weeks later laptop refused to boot... I told him maybe I do need that A+ cert LOL
    Hasam1991
    • RE: WebOS: The Other Smartphone/Tablet Linux

      @Hasam1991
      My Ubuntu syncs across all my devices, I can watch movies and print from any room and snapshot all folders... So your point was.....?
      kirovs
    • RE: WebOS: The Other Smartphone/Tablet Linux

      @Hasam1991

      "my technician at my company asked my if I was A+ certified when I told him that my hard drive was making clicking noises and might go out... "

      I'm A+ certified, and if you said your drive was clicking and might go out, I'd believe you and be rushing to make a backup of that thing and getting a replacement.

      That's just arrogance, plain and simple. If he tried to pull that on me, he'd probably be getting an earful.
      CobraA1
    • RE: WebOS: The Other Smartphone/Tablet Linux

      @Hasam1991 He probably just didn't like you. There is always one or two people at the office that no one likes. maybe you just happen to be one of those people. <br><br>Or maybe he didn't think your computer was worth saving. In my company, all work is saved on a file server and all mail is stored on a mail server. nothing is stored locally, ever. I always have systems ready to in case someone's computer dies. It takes 15 minutes to prep a spare system for any employee. I just tell them take a smoke break while I bring them back, good as new. <br><br>Or maybe your IT is a tard. Who knows.

      BTW, I have an ipad. and it does NOT charge off of every device. It needs a USB port that can provide a .75 - 1.0 A current. That means no Apple device with a USB port can charge it, numb nuts.
      solomonshv
    • RE: WebOS: The Other Smartphone/Tablet Linux

      @Hasam1991 My Droid just syncs... no need to attach to any device, ever. As for charging, yeah, it can, from any USB device... and using a standard USB cable, too. But I rarely charge it. When it's low on power, I simply pop a charged battery in, and put the spent one in the charger. Effectively a 30 second charging time.
      Hazydave
    • O ya, you are right...

      @Hasam1991 but isn't apple the one company that limits you to 5 registered devices and if you sync anyway on a device that isn't registered it wipes the stupid iPod, iPad, iPhone, etc?
      Anyway you can carry on buying their products, it is pointless to try to convince an iFanatic.
      QatQat
      QatQat
  • this will enhance the Linux echosystem

    and will kill M$ faster.
    Linux Geek
    • *insert thing about Linux*

      OMG it means death for M$

      Wait.

      Oh right, tablet computers are going to somehow topple a company whose big money makers are: Desktop OS/Office Program.
      Yep, I see it.
      Michael Alan Goff
      • Is this place made up of mostly trolls?

        @goff256
        Between DonnieBoy, Linux Geek, Hollywood Dog, and a few others it feels like they go out of their way to troll, meaning "posting without anything worth saying".
        AllKnowingAllSeeing
      • I'm just trying to figure out how Linux doing good must

        mean that Windows is doing bad.<br><br>I boot into Ubuntu a lot of the time when I'm not doing schoolwork. I don't think that Windows 7 SP1 means that Linux is going to die. Heck, I don't think the two of them are connected in terms of success or failure. This isn't a zero sum game.<br><br>Am I wrong?<br><br>Does one have to fail for the other to succeed?
        Michael Alan Goff
      • RE: WebOS: The Other Smartphone/Tablet Linux

        @goff256 Someday those who wear the M$ ball and chain will smack their heads and go, "WTF?? ...(why this foolishness?)"
        vandamme1
    • RE: WebOS: The Other Smartphone/Tablet Linux

      @Linux Geek
      Why do you Linux retard always bring Microsoft into everything?
      illegaloperation
    • *sigh* Yet another attack from the

      @Linux Geek Linux people... you know that just [i]never[/i] gets old...
      athynz
    • RE: WebOS: The Other Smartphone/Tablet Linux

      @Linux Geek<br>I suspect Linux might do substantially better?<br><br>once it stops having people like you acting as cheerleader. test
      DeusXMachina
  • Your list is a bit short

    What else does webOS offer users? How about:

    1) True multitasking, with multiple apps running onscreen, at once; no launchers or task managers or special programming needed. No need to close a game to check a Web page, or vice versa, and everything updates in real time.

    2) Freedom both from iTunes and reliance on (and datasharing with) Google.

    3) An open, fully customizable environment, without having to "jailbreak" or "root." Just type webos20090606, tap the icon that shows up, and it's done. Homebrew and custom apps, a universe of system tweaks, themes, and even an updated and overclocked kernel can be installed over-the-air.

    4) An expected cloud solution that goes far beyond competitive offerings to provide reliable automatic backup and synchronization, easy switching among phones and tablets, and more, supported by HP's worldwide infrastructure.

    And so on. While the marketing hurdles are real, the differences (and advantages) of webOS go far beyond JustType and Synergy. {Jonathan}
    jezor
    • RE: WebOS: The Other Smartphone/Tablet Linux

      @jezor@...
      ... and a vibrant homebrew community providing apps and patches all the way down to the kernel; all installable by the end user without jailbreaking. I installed the AV8B kernel and get twice the performance and 3x the battery life of the stock kernel.

      In the rare event that something corrupted your device so bad that it won't even boot, HP provides the "webosDoctor" tool to bring it back to life yourself.

      With "just-type" I don't even bother to scroll through pages of applications, contacts, websites, etc. I just start typing and I'm there in a flash.
      GAGendel