HP plays its Palm cards: WebOS 2.0, Pre 2
Six months after it bought Palm, Hewlett-Packard showed its first big plans for that purchase when it unveiled updates to Palm's webOS software and Pre phone.
The new webOS 2.0 -- officially "HP webOS 2.0" -- adds a "just type" feature that lets you start such actions as composing an e-mail or launching a Web search by typing out text. It enhances the Synergy feature, which lets you view calendars, contacts and messages from such sites as Google or Facebook, by letting developers write plug-ins supporting other services. And webOS 2.0, like Google's Android but unlike Apple's iOS, will include Adobe's Flash 10.1 player.
Weirdly, HP's press release leads off its list of webOS 2.0 features with a mention of "true multitasking." That's been part of webOS from the start -- and is still one of its strongest features, as Palm's software makes it simpler to see what apps are open and switch among them than iOS or Android.
HP plans to offer webOS 2.0 as an over-the-air upgrade for Palm's older Pre and Pixi phones "in the coming months," but spokeswoman Leslie Letts didn't say whether it would be a free upgrade.
The Pre 2, pictured above, will first ship in France on Friday but will come to Verizon Wireless later in the year. It doesn't look like an enormous advance over the device I reviewed last summer; its 1 GHz processor and 5-megapixel camera improve on earlier hardware, but many of its other specs remain unchanged.
PCMag.com's Sascha Segan has a good hands-on report on both webOS 2.0 and the Pre 2, which notes usability issues with Just Type and Flash and concludes that what Palm needs most is a renewed lineup of hardware. I agree. And I'd add that in addition to new phones, it could use a tablet computer -- to which webOS 2.0 seems far better suited than Windows 7, the software used in a different HP tablet project.
Palm owners, what do you think of HP's news today? Does this give you more hope for your platform?
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