It’s a little disappointing that webOS never took off. It has design elements in there that to this day have yet to be matched by other platforms. “Itching Thumb” is taking one of the webOS interaction metaphors, the use of cards to represent running applications, and bringing it to the Android platform. To use it you simply double tap on the home screen icon and then a window pops up that shows you live previews of all the programs running on your smartphone. You can even draw gestures in the lower half of the screen to either switch between running applications or to launch an app installed on your device.
Will this take off? Probably not, but it’s going to get the engineers at Google thinking about how to improve their operating system. We’re going to hear about Gingerbread pretty soon, and Honeycomb at some point in 2011, and from a user standpoint Android is feature complete. It’s time to now add polish, and a lot of it too.
What about Nokia? They picked up Peter Skillman, one of the fathers of webOS, and put him on the MeeGo team. Will we see that operating system blossom into something gorgeous and coveted by all? Then there’s Ari Jaaksi, former Head of MeeGo Devices at Nokia, who is now working for Palm. Were his frustrations with Nokia and the MeeGo team so strong that he packed his bags and left? The mobile industry is a very incestuous one, with people switching between companies that are fierce competitors all the time. It’s hard to keep up, but that sharing of knowledge has to be benefiting us in the long term.
Here’s to 2011 and companies stealing ideas from other companies, patent lawsuits, and ruthless innovation combined with billion dollar advertising campaigns to get us to switch platforms.
Update: One more video, via the excellent XDA-Developers forum.