HP webOS: a (not-so) brief history, Part 3 — A look to the future
With the recent release of the HP Veer running webOS onAT&T, we wanted to take a look back at the history of Palm (now HP)webOS. Part 1 focused on the originaldevelopment of webOS and its early successes and failures, while Part 2 focusedon Palm’s continued efforts at gaining marketshare in the smartphone market. Now that we have caught up to the present daywith the Veer’s release, we wanted to move from a history lesson to a look tothe future, and examine the resources that HP is deploying to help attract andsupport developers.
HP is also trying to focus on their ecosystem of devicesthat will be able to work together. A TouchPad and a phone can be pairedtogether so you can answer phone calls and text messages on the TouchPad whileyour phone is charging in another room. And the new “Touch to share”feature that will allow content to be shared between devices, simply by tappingthem together (only URLs will be supported at launch, but developers will beable to access these APIs in the future). In HP’s marketing campaign that theyjust kicked off for the Veer, they state “In a world of tablets, who needsa big phone?” For the businessperson who always has their tablet with themand knows that their phone and tablet work together, it’s an interestingproposition!
Speaking of business, all indications point to HP trying tofocus a significant amount of attention in the enterprise space where RIM hashistorically ruled with their Blackberry devices and servers. While BlackberryOS is still a market leader in the enterprise space, their OS is on the decline.This is the perfect opportunity for HP to swoop in and take over. As comparedto the all-too-open nature of Android, and the iTunes-dependant and proprietarycoding language of iOS, HP has the experience, infrastructure, sales channelsand reputation to gain inroads in the enterprise space (for an interestingeditorial on this topic, see the PreCentral article Why the Touchpad is goodfor CTOs and instructional designers)
To round out the ecosystem of devices and showcase itsflexibility, HP plans to put webOS on their printers and PCs in the future.With all of these devices running the same OS, they can presumably worktogether in unprecedented ways. That represents well over 100,000,000 devicessold each year for HP to expand its scope of webOS.
Clearly, HP is taking their initial $1.2 billion investmentin Palm and webOS seriously and even appears to be betting a lot on itssuccess. Even though webOS has been around for almost 2 years, this is still agreat time for developers to essentially get in on the ground floor. With significantly fewer apps than thecompetition, you have a much better chance of getting noticed and building aname in the community. This will hopefully give you a big leg up against thecompetition as HP gears up to expand its reach in the mobile marketplace.
For anyone interested in developing for webOS but you don’tknow where to start, here are some great resources:
https://developer.palm.com/— The first place you should stop. The developer website has some greatresources, including the copy of the current SDK (webOS 2.1) and emulator.However, you can also sign up for the Early Access Program to get access to thelatest beta of their webOS 3.0 SDK that will launch with the TouchPad. TheDeveloper site also has a forum that other devs and HP/Palm employees regularlymonitor to help you out and answer your questions. Perusing the site, you willlearn about:
- Plug-in Development Kit (PDK) – Provides developers access to more robust APIs by coding in C++ or taking advantage of OpenGL for 3D gaming.
- Ares – An online drag-and-drop webOS app builder created by Palm that is the first mobile development environment hosted entirely in a browser, lowering the barriers for web developers to jump into mobile development.
- Cross-platform tools – Details on using cross-platform tools to help maximize your ability to reuse code across multiple mobile platforms, including details on porting with the PDK, Node.js, PhoneGap and even their future plans to make Enyo work cross-platform
- and more
Community sites — The webOS community may be small, butthey are a passionate group and are extremely helpful. Sites such as PreCentral.netand webOSRoundup.com both contain their own forums for you to get answers toyour questions. Twitter is also a great resource to connect with the webOScommunity, and as a quick-start, check out Palm Developer Relations’ LisaBrewster’s webOS-comminity twitter list as well as follow the official WebOS Developer account @webosdev. Also, keep an eye on the AT&T Developer Program’s twitter account @attdeveloper for information and details on upcoming webcasts (including another webOS-related one later this summer)
WebOS Internals — Unlike other platforms that require you to jailbrake or root your device togain access to your device, Palm built webOS to allow any user to enter”developer mode” just by typing the old konami code(“upupdowndownleftrightleftrightbastart”). This gives you full accessto the device to hack or sideload apps. No special profiles to test your apps,no signing, just install.
As a result of this open access, WebOS Internals was foundedto dig through, document, and help the community use webOS to its fullestextent. Their website will help you learn even more about webOS and provideinstructions on how to do amazing things such as patching the OS, overclocking yourdevice, installing themes, all right on the device itself. Oh, and not onlydoes HP not try to hinder their efforts, they even flew in the founder of WebOSInternals from Australia to New York for a webOS Developer conference and havedonated a $15,000 server for them to use! They are standing by their word of “notlocking up the tools in the garage”.
To finish up this post, we will leave you with a blog postfrom the HP webOS Developer Blog titled 10 Reasons for Geeks to Love HP webOS.As the blog states “There comes a time in a Linux-loving geek’s life whenhe or she needs a new challenge. Making desktop apps isn’t hacking it anymoreand building yet-another-website seems passe. If you want to jump into the world of mobile, here are a few reasons whyHP webOS is the platform for you.”
Adam Marks is a writer for PreCentral.net, a SmartphoneExperts website dedicated to all things webOS