HP webOS 2.1: what we know, what we don't | webOS Nation

HP webOS 2.1: what we know, what we don't 51

by Derek Kessler Thu, 24 Feb 2011 6:12 pm EST

HP webOS 2.1, or 2.X if you’re HP and don’t want to commit to a specific version number until release, is an interesting piece. It’s not so much interesting for what’s in it - we’ve largely already uncovered everything already in webOS 2.1. What’s interesting is the long convoluted story of webOS 2.1. Actually, stuff like Touch-to-Share, Exhibition, and Enyo are pretty interesting too. Oh, and there's also webOS 2.2 to discuss. So buckle up, ‘cause it’s about to get bumpy.

What we know:

webOS 2.0.1 is out on the Palm Pre 2. webOS 2.1 is available for European Palm Pre Plus devices. webOS 2.1, or a minor revision thereof, will launch on the HP Veer. webOS 2.2 appears destined for release on the HP Pre 3, at least according to the footnotes on HP’s website for the phone. And it’s a big giant maybe-probably-not as to whether or not any pre-Pre 2 devices will get any version of webOS 2.X. Except the European Pre Plus, which very well may. And for those of you that won’t be able to update to webOS 2.0/2.1/2.2/2.X, HP has promised to “make things right” in some manner as-of-yet unrevealed. See, it’s convoluted.

To break it down in a more simple manner: devices from the Pre 2 on will run webOS 2.X. Older devices (original Pre and Pixi and plus variants) could receive an update to webOS 2.X, but probably won’t.

All that out of the way, here’s what we do know: Exhibition is finally present in webOS 2.1. It works great on the Pre Plus and Veer (the only devices we’ve seen it demonstrated on), though the only included Exhibition modules are the clock (now with a background if you so desire), calendar agenda, and photo slideshow (with selectable album). Facebook and a handful of other third party apps support Exhibition, but it’s slim pickings for now. Given how many webOS 2.1 devices there are out there (very few, in case you were confused), that’s not surprising.

webOS 2.X (back to convoluted) will also bring support for Touchstone identification, such that you can have different Exhibition behaviors on different Touchstone chargers. This is all dependent upon your having a second-generation Touchstone charger, otherwise known as the Touchstone v2, which we expect to include a “communication coil” to facilitate this kind of identification. Current generation Touchstone chargers are merely dumb power transmitters, though they are still compatible with the newer webOS devices.

And then there’s webOS 2.2. This version of webOS brings support for Touch-to-Share, which will allow you to easily transmit information between your TouchPad and Pre 3, using the aforementioned Touchstone-tech communication coils. Why that instead of NFC, we don’t know. webOS 2.2’s support for the communication coils will also allow for the sharing of phone notifications onto the TouchPad, with messaging notifications and phone calls getting routed to your TouchPad over Bluetooth. Video calling support will also be built into webOS 2.2. Of course, you’ll need the front-facing camera of the Pre 3 to do it, though we’re sure there’ll be something in 2.2 for the Veer and whatever other devices get webOS 2.X as well.

There’s plenty more to mention for webOS 2.X that most of us still haven’t experienced. Stacks, Just Type search and Quick Actions, an updated App Catalog, voice dialing, support for Adobe Flash 10.1, favorites, Text Assist, Skype (on Verizon only, sadly), and the QuickOffice document viewer. We first got to see these all in action back in October, so we won’t bore you by rehashing all the details here. If you want to refresh yourself, check out our review of webOS 2.0.

Those are just the user-facing features of webOS 2.X. Also integrated in some version (if we had to guess, we’d say 2.2, based on the demo from the Think Beyond developer event) will be support for third party apps built on HP’s next-generation Enyo webOS application framework. Enyo takes the web-language basis of HP’s older Mojo framework and cranks it up to 11. Enyo does obfuscate much of the web programming, at least as far as the developer is concerned, but the result is easier programming (once you get over the not-writing-in-HTML-anymore learning curve) and enhanced modularity.

All told, HP expects that Enyo will make it even easier to build richer apps, though we have to say the most awesome part of Enyo (at least from our perspective as the non-developers) is that its designed to make it markedly easier to build apps that work on multiple screen sizes (i.e. 320x480 on the Veer, 480x800 on the Pre 3, and 768x1024 on the TouchPad).

What we don’t know:

The biggest unknown right now is the most frustrating: we don’t know which devices will be getting webOS 2.X, and how they’ll get them. Right now the Pre 2 has webOS 2.0.1, which was received as an over-the-air update from webOS 2.0, while the lesser-spec’d European Pre Plus has received webOS 2.1, but only as a downloaded-to-and-installed-from-the-computer webOS Doctor, an update that brought the devices up from webOS 1.4.5.

Meanwhile, original Pre owners, those with Pixi phones of all stripes, and those on Verizon and AT&T with the Pre Plus are on 1.4.5 and wondering if they’ll ever get webOS 2.X. We can’t say that they will, and we were inclined to bet against the possibility until HP went and released the 2.1 Doctor for Europe’s Pre Plus phones. Like we said, it’s frustrating. To add to that frustration is some confusion: how is it that Pre Plus phones have webOS 2.1 while the notably more capable Pre 2 doesn’t yet, especially the unlocked Pre 2 phones?

Also an unknown is Touch-to-Share. We aren’t entirely positive on how it works, though apparently some HP reps have said that it works over Bluetooth, using the communication coils merely to establish the “we’re going to share stuff now” handshake. Then again, some HP reps have also said that the Veer has an LED flash for the camera hidden behind the speaker grille, which it most definitely does not. That said, Bluetooth does make perfect sense for this feature.

Lastly as an unknown isn’t something directly related to webOS 2.0/2.1/2.2/2.X (we’ll be really happy when everybody’s on webOS 3.0). It’s what HP means by “something to make things right.” They say they’re working on something for those of us that aren’t going to get webOS 2.X (i.e. likely everybody with an original Pre or any Pixi in their pocket), but we don’t know what that is.

For all we know HP could still be devising a method for a reliable via-your-PC update path, though the homebrew crowd has taken to that quite quickly. HP could also be sticking with their original statement of needing to focus their resources elsewhere and be working out a discounted upgrade for those stuck with un-upgradeable phones. We’re not going to say that we are demanding a discount on new hardware, but we wouldn’t turn one away if it were offered.


And with knowing/not knowing all that, we still don't know date and price. Meanwhile Apple steals the show, again.......

Price of webOS 2.1? Yeah, I guess we don't know if it will be free, but I would assume it is going to be free.

(note, I said this because you're commenting about date/price of DEVICES when the blog post is about what we do/do not know about webOS 2.1)

You're a tool. You knew what he was talking about and that's all that really matters. I want a date and price soon. I'm leaning closer and closer to Android simply because it's available.

bye...please don't forget to lock the door...

and the whiny sob who minused me can just bugger off...it's getting fucking ridiculous with all the whiny and negative comments going around now...
don't lean anywhere...just leave...buy something else and go abuse that somewhere else...

'everybody' 'just knows' what apple is bringing out...now all of a sudden no longer any SD slot or better resolution display in the 'ipad 2'...sheesh...

I'd take a discounted for HP on a new Pre3 (on Sprint) "this summer" rather than official WebOS 2.X on my current Print Pre(minus).

I'm confident WebOS Internals and its many minions will get a stable 2.X on my Pre- soon. They're almost there already!

What we do know is HP/Palm will drag their heels and give out no information only to increase everybody's frustration.

Give them some time to come up with a concrete plan before they present it. You don't want to hear what they are planning and find out they weren't able to do it. Then people will complain about being "lied" to again.

What they should have done is finish what they are working on, then announce it when they are doing QA testing or ready to manufacture so the wait wouldn't be very long, and it would all be fresh in everybody's mind.

What I know is the longer HP remains silent, doesn't speak honestly and doesn't Make Things Right the more I hate reading about the WebOS 2.0 features I'll never get, the more I hate HP and the all the more likely I will never waste a dime on another Cool-in-concept but Worthless-in-implemention Palm vaporware.

im pretty sure this means they're going to give us pre folks an achievement token or something on our palm profiles to show off how cool we were for having a palm when palm was in the toilet and selling out. i might be wrong about that though.

Ha ha! Perhaps this token will count as atonement in Purgatory too. Owning a old Pre does feel like Hell though.

And then when HP finally releases a 2.x for the Pre Plus Verizon will sit on it for six months...

I wish you would stop using side by side pictures of the Veer and the Pre3: i keep thinking that Pre3 is gonna be HUGE! Put it next to that webOS toaster or something for scale.

Looks like 2 Veer phones side by side to me.


I really wish the Veer had an LED flash though.

If you are referring to the picture in the article, then those are 2 Veers. Pre 3 is a pretty good sized phone.

I find it frustrating that Palm and now HP spend so much effort on adding features of questionable value (e.g. exhibition mode and touch to share) while ignoring basic features of proven value that are missing (e.g. searchable calendar and too many other PIM features to mention) and breaking things that used to work (e.g. Google calendar sync). Their priorities seem all out of whack.

While palms calendar needs work, it deffinitly beats iOS and android. I got an iPad recently and wish it was running webos just with all the iOS apps. The calendar is less functional then webos. all pim functions are superior on webos to android and iOS. Now compared to rim, palm os and windows mobile no, but two of those three os's are dead and rim is not as big as it used to be. I tell you what palm needs to do... MASTER DOC EDITING! Quick office for iPad is a joke. Acceptable for quick phone editing aside from no printing, but the iPad version is barely different!

Here's what's missing

- page formating: potable papers and other type docs will become more common on tablets, thus these are important. Margins, Lin spacing, ect.
- headings
- slight bit more customization then on phones.
- import charts from spreadsheets
- print

- merge cells
- changing cell highest/ lengths.
- print

Presentations, the most useless.
- import sound
- themes
- basic layouts (new slide should have some pre done layout)
- more object customization.
- animations for objects and pages.
- different printing views
- import spreadsheet
- import videos

I don't believe this is too much to ask from a tablet. Phones yes, but tablet, no. I can understand why people say the iPad is not productive. It's capable of being more productive (not more so then webos without a major major update, but more then it is now. ) productivity apps aren't great for the iPad I have 3 coding apps none of which work, quick office that doesn't print, and no way to upload pictures to websites, or download things off websites. So webos should work on office docs, and more web functions as well as getting good apps.


I have an iPad and I have to agree. Only the most casic notepad have I found that works. that and a couple of doodle apps. I mean why have an iPad if you can't work on it? I like clapper and dj mixers OK, but why can't music just work? it has to be 'imported' into the DJ app.

So where iPad fails, I hope touchpad succeeds. Of so I will have an iPad to sell... might anyway.

basic, not casic...

your crazy! the only thing palm does better than the others is their multi-tasking and card viewer....everything else sucks! they don't provide top of the line hardware, their apps are all but forgotten, and they don't give a rats @ss about their customers. HP is in the dumps for huge obvious reasons...reasons we can see and they can. By the way and anyone seen the slump in HP stock lately???

I have been searching and can't seem to find any information regarding APIs. Does anyone know whether or not we finally have a mic API for apps like Shazaam, etc. Also, I saw a brief discussion in the forums about this, is the processor in the pre 3 one that will support the DRM to allow for a Netflix app. Personally, if I had a say, beating android to Netflix streaming could go a long way toward differentiating WebOS, not to mention the marketing efforts that could be implementated.

Totally understandable. Many average users won't really get it's worth. But it does have some. And for anyone using a pre minus or a none factory USB cord, the touchstone is a very useful device just for stability. I just got a replacement pre in December. My previous pre had the cracked USB door issue. Having a touchstone negates that issue. Also, from extrnsive use, my old cord doesn't stay well in my pre anymore, also fixed with touchstone. Also a great night stand item. Exhibition would probably be less useful but nice bonus to having a phone on the touchstone.


Hopefully all the new devices will eventually be on the same versions.

I think they will. I think in the future palm will also support older devices, (veer and pre 3) when new ones come out. I think right now the are trying to kill off those devices completely. I doubt we will ever see android fragmentation. Every android phone is obsolete in 6 months to a year if it's lucky (except nexus one I believe)

you are right, and i see companies trying to stay up-to-date with the current android versions but it is hard to do. that being said, HP is about 6 years behind the latest android device, whether its hardware or software...dude HP is WEAK!

Hey, I know it's way off topic, but so we know if touch to share will work between two Pre 3's, or two Touch Pads, or other combinations?

Good point. This could be a cool feature, and even having touch to share expanded to contact info and other info types. This way you could send an .mp3 or a contact to a friend's phone with a simple tap.

On that note, I wonder if future HP PCs would have touch to share as well?

Following that, could you touch to share TWO PCs then?


Nice idea. For desktops, a USB keyboard would include the coil (and bluetooth if that's the transport). For notebooks, build the coil in and include BT as a feature.

I hope "something to make things right" means steep discounts to Pre owners when they upgrade to a Pre3 (or Veer or whatever). I mean a discount beyond the usual carrier subsidy.

would you really want to continue on board with HP after the crap they have produced? their hardware looks the same as it did almost 3 years ago. The touchpad looks kinda cool but DAMN update your PHONES!!! Plus lets face it, they cant touch androids software!

1. Do you mean that HP's hardware is like the iPhone? After all, the iPhone "looks the same" as it did in 2007.
2. 3 years? Not even two by most calendars.

Wait, no more developing in HTML?!
That's all I know!!!

Thats the first time I've heard that! That's frustrating. I just got done learning HTML specifically for this.... Now I'm basically at ground zero again :/

Do I need CSS and JavaScript still? What languages do I need?

Yes, especially JavaScript.

the nay sayers are driving me nuts. I just picked my replacement pre from sprint, I'm good for another 9 months. Yes they have replacements, but on topic I'm glad to see HP do what would have never hapened with PALM. My palm sits on a touchstone on my desk, and exibition mode will definatly be useful.

Haven't been keeping up; is there "Visual Voice Mail" and a "Virtual Keyboard" on the Pre 3?

uhhhhh its HP what do you think....this isnt an android message board!

And IF this tech becomes mainstream, we could all use TTS to pay for stuff like bus and train fares.

That is, if they surpass NFC devices..

except for processing transactions, where very small amounts of data are present, NFC is only used to establish security and then hands over to another protocol. In this case NFC does the handshaking for Bluetooth (much faster than Bluetooth handshake itself), but the larger data transfer is via bluetooth.

I understand HP is using the same concept in touch-to-share (although I have not seen real proof that NFC is not used)

I'm willing to shed a few dollars off my pocket for an OTA update if that's what Verizon wants...

updates have always been free. don't jinx it! :D

Why does PreCentral assume that NFC is not being used? Or that a Touchstone HAS to be involved? The secondary coils in the Touchstone2 can be for communicating its serial number for exhibition mode purposes. It does not mean the Pre and the Touchpad do not have NFC built in and used for TouchToShare.

I am not sure how NFC based devices react if are kept against each other on a permanent basis (eg a Pre3 on touchstone2), will they keep trying to do multiple communicatios and eventually go crazy? Perhaps the Touchstone's non NFC usage is to avoid this scenario, it is something with a much dumber protocol. But for touchtoshare NFC can be used, bypassing the touchstone2 alltogether.

HP is a paying (and I think founding) member of the NFC forum, it would just be odd that they go against their own stragey.

I agree with many of the before posts.


From the changelog of 2.1 on German Palm website:

"This version includes corrections to the calendar, introduced in System version 2.0."

No idea if this is resolves all the issues though.

(Credit to Google translate)

I'm getting tired of waiting for the new webOs with Flash support. My next upgrade will be an to Android 2.2 OS or newer phone. HP, you had me on the Pre Plus, but customer support for the current internet environment truly sucks.

Thanks for the update and comments.
I have an unlocked Pre2 using AT&T SIM and am just really hopeful that the next update of webOS 2.1 will fix all the bugs....