How to install homebrew apps on your TouchPad or webOS smartphone
Ready to jump into the wide world of homebrew on your TouchPad, Pre, or Veer? Alright! Here's what you need:
- Your webOS tablet or smartphone
- A computer, Mac or PC, connected to the internet
- A Micro-USB cable to connect the webOS device to your computer (you can use the cable that came with the device, but any Micro-USB cable will do)
- A stiff drink (this isn't required, but you'll deserve one for being awesome enough to be doing homebrew)
Got that? Okay, time for some clarifications. webOS devices do not need to be "rooted" - they come from the factory open enough that special tools aren't needed to install apps outside of the App Catalog or gain access to the operating system. The process of getting a homebrew installer set-up is relatively straight-forward and doesn't involve anything scary or potentially warranty voiding (there are potentially warranty-voiding things you can do after that, but everything described in this how-to is perfectly acceptable).
Install WebOS Quick Install on your computer
The nature of webOS requires that you access your device for homebrew app installation via your computer. To do that you need to use a program called WebOS Quick Install by independent developer Jason Robitaille. Quick Install is a Java program and thus will install and run the same way on Mac- and Windows-based systems. First you need to make sure your computer is set up to run Java (chances are it already is)
Mac: Open Applications, Utilities, and then Java Preferences. Under the General tab, make sure Java SE 6 is checked on and at the top of the list. If it is not, you can drag-and-drop it to the top. It is okay to have multiple instances of Java checked, so long as Java SE 6 is one of them. If Java SE 6 is not present, open Software Update from the Apple menu (top left corner) and let it install all pending updates.
PC: Open the Control Panel and open Java, this will open the Java Control Panel. In the first box under the General tab click on the About button. If it says Java 6 Standard Edition, click Close to exit the pop-up and Cancel to close the Java Control Panel. If it does not, or if Java is not present in your Control Panel, go to Java.com and download and run the 'Windows Online' Java installer.
Now that we've verified you're running the latest version of Java, things get even easier from here.
Download WebOS Quick Install from the webOS Nation Forums and put it somewhere where you aren't going to lose it (unless you feel like redownloading it every time you want to install something from your computer). Quick Install will also automatically create an 'Install' folder, so we wouldn't recommend leaving the app it on your desktop.
To run Quick Install, merely double click on the WebOSQuickInstall-X.X.X.jar file. On first launch it will prompt you to install Novacom (this is a driver used to access your webOS device from the computer), click Yes. Quick Install will automatically download and start installation of the Novacom driver (if it prompts you to approve installation with a Yes or your password, do so).
Once the Novacom installation is complete you'll be prompted that there are No Devices Found. Congratulations, you've successfully installed WebOS Quick Install! Just leave it where it is for now.
Put your device into Developer Mode
In the Just Type bar (the transparent bar in card view - the 'home screen' - that says "Just Type"), type the following:
This search will bring up a hidden app under Launch called Developer Mode. Tap on it. The DeveloperMode app will open. There is a toggle on the top right corner, if it's set to "ON", go ahead and skip to Install apps on your device.
Chances are the toggle is set to OFF. Tap it to switch to ON, and if prompted to enter a developer mode password, just enter nothing and hit Submit (entering nothing does not set a password). The app will go gray for a few seconds and return you to the start screen, except now it will say that "Your devices is now in Developer Mode" with the toggle set to ON.
Install apps on your device
Take your Micro-USB cable and plug it into both your computer and webOS device. Your'll be prompted on the device to enter USB Drive mode or Close (TouchPad)/Just Charge (webOS smartphone) - tap Close/Just Charge.
If you left WebOS Quick Install where it was when installation finished (No Devices Found), click OK. If Quick Install is not open, go ahead and open it.
You should see a screen like the above - this is WebOS Quick Install. On the right side, click on the globe icon. Quick Install will download the homebrew app feeds from WebOS Internals and webOS Nation and open a new window listing these apps.
The box on the left lists a scrolling list of available apps, the middle the description of the selected app, and the right displays a screenshot. In the search box over the apps list, type Preware and hit Enter/Return.
Where WebOS Quick Install allows you to install homebrew apps from your computer to your webOS device, Preware allows you to install homebrew apps from on the device. Preware is a free open source app created by WebOS Internals.
Click the Install button under the app description. Quick Install will automatically download and Preware onto your device. If you have a TouchPad it will be installed at the end of the Downloads page in the launcher, while on a webOS smartphone the app is installed at the bottom of the first launcher page. Once installation is complete, Quick Install will return to the app listings.
You can use Quick Install to install any of the other apps listed in the feeds or IPK files you have on hand (just drag-and-drop into the big white space on the Quick Install launch screen and click the Install button).
Install apps using Preware
Tap the Preware icon on your webOS device App Launcher. On first launch and after updating the app you'll be prompted with a Welcome to Preware brief that describes the app and provides a changelog. Tap the "Ok, I've read this" button to continue. Your device must be connected to the internet to use Preware.
Preware will download the app feeds from WebOS Internals and webOS Nation (just like Quick Install did) and provide you with a list of available items to install, including Applications, Themes, Patches, and Other, along with Updates for homebrew items and your installed packages and the "this is everything" List of Everything.
You can tap on on category to browse, or if you know what you're looking for you can search right from the Preware home screen. If using a TouchPad, tap the magnifying glass icon in the top right to start a search, if on a webOS smartphone, just start typing. We'll install Jason Robitaille's Internalz Pro file browser as an example - just type Internalz and hit Enter and Preware will search the downloaded feeds.
You'll be presented with a list of search results, tap on Internalz Pro. This will open the app description page, with tappable screenshots across the top, the app description below, and an Install button at the bottom center. Tap Install.
Preware will download and install the app. Some apps require additional installs, Preware will prompt you to install those as well. Once the app is installed, it will be placed either under the Downloads page (TouchPad) or on the first page (webOS smartphone) of your launcher.
And that's it! You've successfully jumped head first into the world of homebrew - easier than you expected, huh? Be sure to check out all the webOS Nation Homebrew Gallery, WebOS Quick Install, and Preware have to offer.
You've taken your first steps into a brave new world. Enjoy it.