New apps in webOS 3.0 21
So we covered what’s changed with webOS 3.0... how about what’s new in the world of apps? There’s some good stuff here, from video chat, to a bonafide Kindle app to stuff from Time Inc. to a funky new Twitter app. There's plenty to go over, so head on past the break to get everything that was said, what we've gleaned, with a dash of speculation and assumption.
There’s something new in webOS 3.0 (and perhaps 2.X on the Pre 3): video chat. We weren’t entirely clear on what service was used during the demo, but HP tells us that they are working on/intend to have video chat working through Skype when they launch the TouchPad sometime this summer. The only interface we got to see in the video call was the in-call view, a portrait-oriented gray screen dominated by the other caller’s lovely mug, with your video relegated to the top left corner. There’s a big end call button at the bottom, a microphone mute button in the top right, and a button to switch between audio and video mode. That’s about it.
Calls pop up in the top right corner just like a calendar alarm, with the big photo and answer and ignore buttons just like on the phones. Once you answer you’re in a scaled up version of the current webOS dialer, with four big buttons along the bottom. It’s worth noting that the sharing of calls and stuff is done over Bluetooth, to the point that the phone looks at your TouchPad almost like it’s an overgrown Bluetooth headset.
As we speculated back in December, Jon Rubinstein’s joining the Amazon board has brought fruit: Kindle on webOS, at least for the TouchPad. It’s a pretty basic interface, which is what you need when reading. Your Kindle library headings and access to the store is in a column on the left, a grid view of the folder or the Kindle store in the right. Once you select a book, it takes over, with a 3D-ish page turning animation to make it all feel familiar. The animation was choppy in the video, though we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and call it early software.
A tap brings up a navigation bar from the bottom, with the ability to scroll through pages, jump to the cover, table of contents, or beginning, or to even make notes and marks (not demonstrated). Also not demonstrated was how Kindle works in landscape mode, though HP did tell us that Kindle in landscape does go into a two-page view. Pretty standard fare here, and we’re plenty fine with the simplicity.
We only got a quick glimpse at QuickOffice in action on webOS 3.0, and there wasn’t a whole lot to report. We can tell you it opens Word documents just fine (or at least the Word document that HP built for the demo), and supposedly the TouchPad will ship with an editing version of QuickOffice, though none of that functionality was demoed.
Just Type for Twitter
We can’t tell you if this is going to be an official app, or something that HP built for demoing Just Type quick actions, but it was in the demo, so we’ll take a look (the “Just Type for Twitter” name gives us pause... you’d think the other way around, no?). If you’re looking for a baseline to compare this interface to, it’d be the new Twitter web interface: a timeline column on the left, a Tweet detail view on the right. Composition is performed in a pop-over dialog. Tapping on a tweet fills the right side with that tweet and any details for that tweet. As you can imagine, on a big screen 140 characters doesn’t count for much, so the extra space is filled with a location map (the only view demoed), though presumably things like photos and videos would be loaded up too.
Time, Inc. apps
We’ve made the argument that HP really needs to bring on the content partners for any new devices, especially tablets, to have a better chance at being successful. One of those content parterns is going to be Time, Inc. You may think of just Time Magazine, but Time also owns publications like Sports Illustrated, People, and Fortune. Their presentation showed a nice browsing interface, though no view of how blocks of text (otherwise known as articles) will look. Interactive content will be a big thing in Time’s releases, as will photos.
If you’re looking for any kind of pricing, or even an idea of how content will be sold and delivered, we’re lacking on details. Randall Rothenberg, Time’s Chief Digital Officer, only mentioned that articles would be available one-off, so we have no clue if it will be a subscription service or what. He did seem to hint that subscribers of the paper variety of these magazines would get the TouchPad versions for no cost, but we’re still really hazy on what he was trying to say.
We suppose we could have covered this in the changes, but this is kind of a biggie: the Video app is gaining a store, and HP tells us it’s powered by Roxio. This is HP leveraging their existing partnerships to bring new content to webOS, as HP has long had a partnership with Roxio to put their software on HP’s Windows machines. We got just a static glimpse at the Video store, and we can tell you that it does at least let you view New Arrivals, perform searches, watch a trailer, view a synopsis, and rent or buy the content. No word on how those purchase will be handled, though we’re hopeful for Palm Profile billing.
That’s all we’ve got from new apps from this morning’s show, and we don’t know what else we’re going to see tonight. We’re sure we’ll see plenty more in the coming months (ha) between now and the eventual summer release of the TouchPad.