Palm released webOS 2.0 beta to developers and provided a sneak peek into some of the changes Palm has in store for the webOS platform. From the developer’s documentation, there are six core areas that will receive significant improvement
Stacks builds upon the cards metaphor and links similar cards together into a stack. The idea here is to make it easy to switch from one task to another. webOS will organize your cards into stacks but you can also manually drag and drop individual cards into stacks.
Synergy is the core of webOS’ personal information management. The service grabs contact information from a variety of sources and compiles this information on your phone without duplicating entries and generally messing things up. Palm is expanding its Synergy API to encompass third party developers who can now tie-in to the Contacts, Calendars and messaging applications on the handset. An IM client can grab IM information and sync that seamlessly to your contacts.
Exhibition is similar to the dock mode present on Android and other handsets and was teased in a recent leak. Exhibition mode will kick in when a handset is placed on the touchstone charger. With this new feature, developers can write stand alone applications that will launch when the handset enters Exhibition mode. They can also embed this feature into a current application and offer it as an option within the settings. Only one Exhibition app can run at a time but users will have the ability to select an application according to their individual preferences. Exhibition apps can include calendars, slideshows, stock tickers and more.
PDK is most associated with 3D gaming but the Plug-in development kit can be used to develop plug-ins for other native webOS applications. This developer-oriented feature will make it easier for developers to write re-usable snippets of PDK code and integrate them seamlessly alongside the native SDK code.
Just Type, i.e., Universal Search
Palm is re-branding and expanding its Universal Search feature. The new Just Type will take center stage on the homescreen and will allow users to search quickly and easily. Developers can include their apps and associated data in this universal search feature. Just Type expands upon universal search by including Quick Actions into this search feature. Users can search and initiate actions such as send text message, upload image to Flickr, add to calendar and so on.
While the future of the webOS operating system is promising, HP and Palm have to produce some stellar hardware to showcase this very capable mobile operating system. The Palm Pre and Pixi Plus and any future iteration based upon that hardware can not compete with the iPhone 4 and the DROID lineup that dominate the current smartphone market. Palm has a second life with the cash, marketing, and distribution power of HP behind it. Let’s hope they do not blow it again.