Hands-on with webOS 3.0.4 [video]
Today saw the second update to the HP TouchPad, bringing the tablet up to webOS 3.0.4 (like the previous update – 3.0.2 – HP seems content to skip the odd-numbered versions). The update includes the typical speed and stability improvements, but it also packs a new camera app and expanded Bluetooth pairing capabilities.
First up, the camera: it’s essentially a port of the camera app from webOS phones. You can take photos with the 1.3MP front-facing camera, or you can take video. If you’ve used Skype video chat, you know the quality of this camera (spoiler alert: it’s not good).
There are no fun iPad-style effects or anything like that – you can take photos, and you can record videos. That’s it. Sadly, other parts of webOS have not been updated to support the existence of video recording – the only way you can share a video recorded on the TouchPad is via email, and you can only do that from the Photos & Videos app (Email didn’t have a Videos attachment option added to Photos, Music, and Documents). You can’t even upload to YouTube! So really the only use cases for the video recording capabilities of the TouchPad are for sending an email greeting to friends and family or for offloading onto your computer later.
Then there’s the expansion of Bluetooth support. HP enabled Bluetooth pairing with the HP Pre3, which allows owners of both devices to share text messages and phone calls with ease. While we can understand the support for text message sharing has to be built into the OS, why other phones couldn’t pair up over Bluetooth was always a question nagging at our minds. Question no longer, as the TouchPad with webOS 3.0.4 can now pair to any phone and act as a giant Bluetooth speakerphone. When hooked up with our Palm Pre 2, the TouchPad was recognized as a car speakerphone. The TouchPad recognized the phone as a phone, but unlike before where it would give unusable options for things like message sharing, it now only offers auto-connect and receive calls as options. In a word, it works.
There are two other updates we didn’t cover in the video, mostly because they’re pretty simple, but still welcome. Messaging now allows you to set a custom status message (whether it’s an option for Available, Busy, and Offline depends on the service). The App Catalog has also received a major speed boost that makes switching views and sorting a thousand times less annoying (plus a new softer spinner). Also a welcome improvement to the App Catalog is the option to sort apps from everything down to phone and TouchPad-optimized apps – an option the App Catalog actually remembers the next time you launch. The October issue of Pivot, however, still has yet to land.
So that’s webOS 3.0.4. As the x.x.4 numbering would imply, it’s a fairly minor update. Bug fixes, a few enhancements and improvements, and a new camera app. But HP’s continuing their work on improving webOS and shows no signs of letting up. Of course, it’d be nice to have some new devices to run it on too, but we’ll take what we can get right now.