In addition to announcing the Palm Pre 2 Tuesday, HP announced webOS 2.0, which the company claims is the most significant update to the platform since its launch in 2009.
HP purchased Palm back in April, largely because of the promise of its mobile software platform, webOS. Visually, webOS 2.0 retains the flourish of its predecessor, but operationally it’s a lot more robust.
HP is bringing webOS 2.0 first to SFR in France via the new Palm Pre 2. The Palm Pre 2 will hit Verizon later this year. HP says existing customers can expect the webOS 2.0 update to arrive “in the coming months.”
So what’s new in webOS 2.0? The Palm Pre 2 page has a pretty good explanation, but here are some highlights:
- Stacks – This is webOS 2.0’s take on multitasking. HP calls this “true multitasking” (in other words, preemptive), which is what webOS 1.0 had before. It’s a way to organize and keep related items together. So if you are trying to open up a webpage or create a new calendar event based on information from an e-mail, you can group all of those items together in one stack.
- Just Type – Just Type is a new mechanism that lets you start typing before opening an app. You can then choose a Quick Action like sending an e-mail or a text message or doing a web search. Basically it’s Quicksilver on your phone.
- Adobe Flash Player 10.1 Beta – Like Android and the BlackBerry PlayBook, webOS supports a beta of Flash Player 10.1. Adobe has long demoed Flash 10.1 on webOS devices, but now it’s baked into the web browser.
- Skype Mobile – Verizon customers will get access to Skype-to-Skype calls and messaging and low-cost long-distance calls. This is an extension of the Verizon/Skype partnership.
- QuickOffice Connect – The office viewer that we love on iOS and Android is now on webOS.
- Facebook 2.0 – This will be available in the App Catalog and offer support for Facebook IM via the built-in Messaging application and support Stacks and Just Type Quick Actions.
- Updated Browser – The WebKit-based browser has been updated to include more HTML5 and geolocation support.
- VPN – WebOS will now connect to corporate networks, including IPsec and Cisco AnyConnect mobile-optimized VPNs.
- Bluetooth keyboard support — Like iOS 4, webOS 2.0 supports Bluetooth keyboards and other Bluetooth peripherals.
The new Synergy feature is one of the cooler new software features for keeping contacts and calendars updated. You can automatically sync your Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft Exchange info. If a contact’s information changes in one place, you’ll see it updated on your phone. This is pretty similar to what companies like Xobni and Meshin are doing, but it’s built-in at the OS level.
We don’t have a webOS 2.0 device in our hands, but our friends at PreCentral have a pretty exhaustive review of the new update and they seem pretty impressed.
We’ve always been fans of webOS as an operating system. The problem has been inspiring developer interest in the platform and making sure the hardware is both powerful enough to run the OS and well-made enough not to break or be unreliable.
WebOS 2.0 seems to have a lot going for it, but as I noted on the “Briefly Awesome” podcast last week, it seems prime for a tablet device. That’s where we want to see webOS, and where we think it has its best shot of being an inviting platform for application developers and users.