Phoenix finally reveals the first step in their plan: webOS on Android | webOS Nation

Phoenix finally reveals the first step in their plan: webOS on Android 42

by Derek Kessler Sat, 13 Oct 2012 3:51 pm EDT

Phoenix finally reveals the first step in their plan: webOS on Android

It was a little over six months ago that we first reported on the newly formed Phoenix International Communications, a group of dedicated webOS fans that in the wake of HP's decision to cancel webOS hardware and open source the operating system, decided that they were going to work to make their own webOS hardware. At least, eventually. The intervening six months have been a little weird, as far as the public face of Phoenix was concerned. All too often we'd see odd public pronouncements from Phoenix representatives stating that they were going to do make things right and the like. What exactly that meant, we didn't know, but we'll admit that after a while we stopped paying attention.

Though the long term goal for Phoenix is to produce their own webOS hardware, that's likely a long way and lots of money away. As they said when they announced themselves back in March, the first steps for Phoenix would be to port Open webOS onto existing Android devices, though they'd be making some improvements along the way. Our assumption was that they would port Open webOS in much the same manner as WebOS Ports, by providing a dual-boot solution for specific devices. Turns out, they've got something that seems a bit more audacious in mind.

You can see the initial fruits of their labor in the poorly lit video after the break, but honestly the video doesn't really explain things well. Phoenix's developers have been working on running webOS as an app on Android instead of as a standalone operating system. While this could have some level of a performance hit from running webOS on top of Android instead of in lieu of Android, it would provide users greater flexibility in terms of their user interface and app selection choices by having both operating systems running simultaneously.

You could call it a virtual machine or emulation or whatever you want, in the end it's a flexible solution to a difficult problem. They actually like to think of webOS on Android as working much the same was as webOS does on existing devices - the Linux core is booted and then the webOS UI with LunaSysMgr is booted on top of that.

It's an ambitious idea, and one that's going to take a lot of work to make it happen. As Phoenix was upfront in admitting to us, their webOS-on-Android job right now isn't exactly stable and crashes almost immediately (thus why the video only shows up to the webOS lock screen). The hope, though, is that the work of getting webOS running as an app inside Android will provide them with greater flexibility going forward. Ostensibly, such a solution would be easier to install on an Android device and be available for a wider array of devices (less per-device tweaking on the kernel and driver level would be needed).

As for a timeframe and how exactly this will be distributed, that's not something Phoenix is ready to discuss; as we said it crashes right after boot, so there's still a lot of work to be done before anybody starts talking about distribution, pricing, and the like. In the meantime, Phoenix plans to keep hard at work on their webOS-on-Android solution.

Whether Phoenix International Communications can stop being such an enigma or not remains to be seen. The random lofty affirmations on Facebook and Twitter haven't entirely gone away, and while they might be meant to be positive reinforcement for the webOS community, too often they backfire with weary skepticism. There's the added complication that many involved with Phoenix don't want to be publicly identified, including those at the top. They claim that they, like everybody else in Phoenix, are unpaid volunteers with full time jobs that for whatever reason look down on having a side job or independent business plans. Whether or not that's a good excuse for the poor communication job too date is debatable, but it doesn't change that Phoenix is finally showing something - anything - to back up some of the talk.


imho, the wrong os running on top of the wrong os.

I agree with you. Webos is true multitasking, Android is not. How do they plan to keep multitasking apps running smoothly within Android?

An app that runs on android, or like a skin? Ie: Samsung's touchwiz for android.

More like an app, definitiely not like a skin.

Perhaps it will be compatible with Open Mobile's emulator. Then you would finally be able to use Android apps on an emulator running in a webOS app running on an Android device.


Well this is very exciting, Means us web os lovers can pick whatever form factor we want (with android) and pop our web os over it!

This is very interesting. I love Android OS and currently own 3 Android devices. I would, however, rather have the option to dual boot into either WebOS or Android as I do through Cyanogenmod on my Touchpad. Let us see how this ends up working out. Could prove quite interesting. Sidenote: I would also be quite intrigued to see WebOS on an Apple Device but it would be a LONG time were that to ever happen. Wishful thinking on my part.


Thank you so much with your contribution. Now why are you wasting your time here?




"... but you know I speak the truth..."

No, I don't.

I, for one, am running ICS on a Samsung Galaxy sII. I dislike.. and am beginning to HATE Android.

Betcha didnt know that, did ya?

Stop making presumptions about other people.. you have your opinion, state is as that and keep away from speaking for others.

Now that we got Whatsapp working on webos, I only need for Waze to work under webos and I will switch 100% back from Cyanogemod

Exactly... Some months ago I was thinking "maybe I should move to android" but before that I tried my girlfriend's android and even installed ICS on it... we traded cells for a week or so...

While ICS is an improvement to android, I definetely prefer webOS a lot more... even with the few apps we have it suits me much better (and don't get me started on the multitasking)... even my girlfriend tells me "oh, that funcion is better on your phone" or "I miss X function of your phone"... yes a phone with an OS like 3 years old (I have a pre+ with 1.4.5)...

On a side note I later decided to buy a pre 3... I was delighted with it... yes, was because it got stolen after a month or 2 using it... sorry, I can't continue, I have something in my eyes...

My first thought exactly, why put an under-developed, under-supported os on a device built for another well developed, well supported os? I have never used Android, in any form, so I really can'y comment on how good it is, but this really makes no sense to me. I suffered with a launch Pre for 2 years waiting for promised improvements, which never came. How is this going to be any better, without the resources of a Palm or an HP to support it (don't want to get into how HP didn't support it). I now have other products which software just seem to work, and hardware which makes the Pre seem embarrasing.

Sorry, yell at me if you want, but this has no commercial viability.

hater ;>

No, it's worse: It's a troll!

What's so sweet about ice cream and jelly bean, only the names maybe. Android is the UGLIEST piece of crap ever. Wouldn't want one if it was free

Free I do would want one... but just to see if I could put open webOS on it...

Im not sure I see WebOS.. ami I blind? I just see Android booting up...

Anyway, I have a Samsung Galaxy s II, running ICS. I have come to pretty much dislike Android as an OS, but, the hardware is pretty slick - the only thing I'd want is a physical keyboard, but, I digress...

Id love to be able to load WebOS onto it, even as an app... as long as the gestures work, and my WebOS profile worked on it, I'd be a happy camper - I miss WebOS so much!


I was OK with Android but after two years I've started to dislike it. Especially vanilla one. Everybody in Android community is thrilled with JB and iCS and hates Touchwiz, but honestly, for me, vanilla Android still looks like pile of randomly thrown shit one on another.

In the article, they said that all they did was run the video up to the webOS lock screen at the end. After that, it crashes. It's probably a good bit of work to get the OS properly emulated on Android as Android is not a real Linux based OS (and webOS and it's emulators are very Linux oriented...though there's virtualboxes for other OSs...I wouldn't conceive of using them on mobile devices). I can't see them doing a "few hacks" and getting it to run right on Android.

They released the video mainly, as far as I can tell, to remind people that they're working on this. Kudos to them though, there are definitely uses for this.

Personally, I'd rather not run webOS over Android. I have little trust in Google playing nice for an extended period of time. If at all possible, I'd much rather just buy a "supported" device and replace Android entirely as I have no interest in using Android on anything. But it would be cool for all of those folks who already have "non-supported" Android devices to be able to use their old webOS apps and Synergy and stuff.

Exactly this.

Is this comparable to Classic, which gave the ability to run Palm OS progams on webOS?

Took the letters right out of my keyboard :-)

Sounds like the approach Palm had to run PalmOS on webOS. Run inside "Classic".

Is it something akin to the Kindle Fire HD? If yes then i would go for it! :)

I don't like running webOS on Android or any other OS. We all should support and push for webOS as the Primary OS on its own device. Openmail? (if true) is the best type of relationship between us and Android world! The best path for us is to support every part of webOS: Gram, Open webOS, community Internal and ...).

Don't get me wrong, I'm a diehard webOS fan (have a Pre- and 3, Pixi and TP) and want to desparately see it eventually gain widespread adoption I actually think this is a good idea .... provided they can pull it off (as Derek correctly says)..

Whilst not ideal, having webOS or at least lunasysmgr run atop Android will allow webOS to have exposure to ppl who probably wouldn't even think about hacking their Android phone to run webOS.. Think of it as akin to allowing a Windows user to test Ubuntu in VirtualBox before taking the plunge.. low risk and might even result in a conversion to the desire to actually go ahead and install the port from webOS Ports .. try before u buy!

That is of course, if they can pull it off... in any case, it's better that the two organisations are doing different things.. we don't want duplication of effort!!

This concept it's similar to the app from Canonical, Ubuntu for Android, running both systems on top of the same kernel. Nice project!

Hah, I remember thinking about something like this a few months ago, considering people are running Windows 98 on an iPhone it should be similarly possible to run webOS inside a virtualized environment. The only thing that's left if the main system works is connecting the telephony from Android to webOS and allowing webOS to handle calls and texts. Have anyone researched on whether or not webOS and Android running concurrently under the same kernel is feasible?

Just wondering, how exactly is webOS booting? I see a lot of Android action, and all of a sudden webOS pops up. Huh? Loaded at start, launched through ADB, or secretly jump cutted?

This sounds great.

I'm happy with my Pre3, but if I ever have to get a new phone, I hope the Phoenix project will be available on Android phones by then (I don't like my wife's Android phone)

It would be cool if the Graffiti virtual keyboard on Android could work with WebOS on top. (I'm sad that Graffiti is not available for WebOS).

phoenix internation is a real thing right, not that Chris Williams nonsense?

Really pleased to hear Phoenix working on WebOS as an app in Android.
In my opinion it can only add to curiosity among Android users and thus raise the profile of WebOS.

That and the fact that open WebOS is gathering pace is really encouraging.

I have had a Pre 3 for a year now and will patiently consider a replacement in a year or two.
By that time I'm sure one of the two aforementioned projects will mean I can continue to enjoy and rely on WebOS on new hardware.

The more options and projects for WebOS the better, though I hope we don't end up with too many variations of webOS that might put off or confuse app developers and end users.

Well done Phoenix - keep it up and all the best!

Somebody please give homebrew devs a good camera and some soft lighting!!!



While I'm an Android guy, I'd prefer this to be the other way around: open webOS running Dalvik so we can have a webOS phone with access to all 650k Android apps.


Normally I promote anything to further the cause of webOS. The rub here is that I don't know how Phoenix is "furthering the cause" with this particular development. Perhaps this is just a waypoint of sorts...of developing with hardware and APIs through android, etc. However, if this IS the project, then I highly suspect that it will be a huge waste of time and may just further dilute the name/reputation of webOS.

Trying to make webOS run as just an app or a "skin" on top of another OS seems counter-intuitive and it also has so many pitfalls its not funny. Phone, camera, other apps "inside" of other apps, wi-fi, memory usage, Bluetooth, other accessories...the list goes on. How many of these function would actually work flawlessly? How many crashes would you have? You really have to ask yourself if this is remotely possible and to what end? Lastly, even if there are no major flaws or crashes (stretch), how would it perform overall? If the UI of the "app" didn't at least come close to the performance of the Pre3 or the Touchpad, I think it would further degrade the perception of webOS and actually deter usage and acceptance.

In short, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and I can only see how no good can come from this.

It could save them a lot of time if they are able to tie into Android's HAL and then basically unload Android (ship it off into some vRAM space on /sdcard for quick startup later) and run webOS on top of that, they would have a winner. It would definitely save a lot of time trying to make different aspects of the hardware work, and has a possibility of being more stable overall.