User interface changes in webOS 3.0 | webOS Nation

User interface changes in webOS 3.0 33

by Derek Kessler Wed, 09 Feb 2011 7:54 pm EST

So it turns out that the HP TouchPad doesn’t run HP webOS 2.0. It runs webOS 3.0, a different beast than the 2.X we saw on the HP Veer and HP Pre 3. We’re not going to draw any comparisons to Android 3.0 for tablets and 2.3 for smartphones or mention anything about fragmentation or OS updates. But we will take a moment to look at how webOS has changed for the tablet form factor. The changes are both substantial and minute, and done to deal with the much large screen and the distinct lack of a gesture area.

There've been a lot of wholesale changes in webOS 3.0 to make it work better in a tablet situation, and we're mostly cool with these changes. After the break we'll break it down: Launcher, Notifications, virtual keyboard, Browser, Email, Messaging, Calendar, and Photos.


First up, there have been no changes to card view behavior - in webOS 3.0 you’ve got all the same options as webOS 2.X: swipe left and right to move between cards, tap and hold to drag around between stacks, and toss off the top to close. Card view does now rotate, but that’s the only real difference. The Just Type search bar still sits at the top, though you have to tap on it to bring up the virtual keyboard.

The launcher, however, has received a makeover to take advantage of the expansive screen real estate. The solid gray slide-up tray features tabs across the top for your app pages, though the spacing is still quite wide (five across in portrait orientation). The quick launch dock stays on the bottom, with five apps plus the launcher button visible in card view and in the opened launcher (unlike webOS 2.X, where the launcher disappears).


For one, the tablet does not have the notification bar that we’ve grown accustomed to with webOS to this date. Instead, notifications are nestled in the wider top bar up by the device menu with the time and battery. Tap on your familiar notification icons and, it opens a drop-down menu where you can view and act on your notifications. Not only that, but you can actively triage your notifications through here, e.g dismissing through a stack of messaging notifications to get to the one that’s actually worthy of your time.

Important notifications that demand immediate response, like a calendar event alarm, immediately pop up, with the dismiss and snooze UI we’re used to (just not taking up half the screen).

When locked, the notifications pop up in the center of the screen, and though we didn’t see it in action (just a static image on the screen), the music player still has on-screen controls even when the device is locked.

Virtual keyboard

The virtual keyboard we saw on the TouchPad was in fact practically the same virtual keyboard that was in the HP design document we posted a few weeks back. It’s simple and straightforward, as any virtual keyboard ought be. It also includes a number line across the top, which makes us very happy.

The key size in the virtual keyboard in webOS 3.0 is adjustable in steps: XS, S, M, and L. The size differences are just in the vertical, with small filling up the bottom third of the screen while in landscape, and large at least half. If you need your miscellaneous special characters, there’s a +=[] button in the bottom left to switch to that (though we didn’t get to see it). Product Management Director Sachin Kansal was rather excited by the number row during his on-stage demo, claiming that the added row saves users oodles of time by not having to switch back and forth to enter numerals. And if you’re wondering, a smaller version of this virtual keyboard is not present in webOS 2.X on the Pre 3 or Veer. They’ve got decent physical keyboards; that should be enough for you.


This is where we have to broach the topic of the TouchPad not having a gesture area. It was a much-touted feature of the original Pre, and now it’s gone, at least on the TouchPad with it’s numero tres version of webOS. Obviously that means that swiping to go back/forward in the browser is out. To compensate, the webOS 3.0 browser has gained a desktop-style toolbar across the top (it rolls away when you scroll down and reappears at the top) with (left to right) forward and back buttons, a url field, followed by what looks like share, new card, and bookmarks/history buttons. Speaking of bookmarks and history, that no longer opens up in a full-screen overlay, as that’d be silly. They’re now located in a side bar that comes in from the right, in a nice orderly list. You'll notice that the little progress wheel is gone now too, replaced by a thin progess bar that goes across the bottom of the toolbar and fills with blue as your page loads.


The Email app is where the big - and welcome - changes are. Though the multi-paned Enyo-built preview Email app was said to not be official, we can definitely see it (and the user interface document) at work here. The new Email app has three panels: accounts and folders, the list view, and your actual email. Getting between the three is where things get interesting: the bottom left corner of the email and list views have a grab handle you can, well, grab to drag to the left to open the higher-level panels, or to the left to close and open up more space for your email.

The email client has also gained multi-select (finally), though there are no checkboxes to be seen here. Okay, there’s one, and it’s in the toolbar below the list view. Tap on that to enter multi-select mode, and then select the emails you wanted to delete/move/whatever.


Changes in the Messaging app aren’t really ground-breaking. There were no mentioned new services, just a big tablet UI to make it easier. Your seamless conversation is in a big pane of the right, your contacts on the left. There is a grab handle (like in Email) at the top left of the conversation panel, and though we didn’t get to see it in action, presumably it works just like in Email: drag to the right to reveal your contacts, drag left to put them away.


Praise something of your choice: month view now actually lists your appointments. Then again, that’s what happens when you’ve got a big ‘ole screen to work on. The calendar UI has gone super spartan, and we’re cool with that. The day/week/month view dominates the screen, with toggles to switch between them at the bottom. Also at the bottom are the New Event, Jump To, and Show Today buttons.

What’s nice is when you’re in day view (the only view we got a good look at). You appointments are staggered like they are in the current webOS calendar, but the bigger screen allows so much more info to be displayed at once. A bar across the top shows your available calendars, along with little colored boxes in case you forgot which color you assigned to which calendar.


The grab handle is here too, with the right 2/3 dedicated to your pictures and the left chunk a scrolling list of your libraries and albums. “Libraries” are your social networking photos, including photos pulled from Facebook, Photobucket, and HP-owned Snapflish, while Albums are the photos you’ve loaded onto the TouchPad yourself. The launch view of Photos has a series of side-scrolling views of your albums so you can give it a quick browse. Tap on a photo to open it, or tap on the album name to open the album into a vertically scrolling grid(ish) view.

There are two new features added to Photos, the first of which comes with the social photo networking integration: you can view and make comments directly from the app, all without even leaving the photo. When looking at a photo, tap on it to bring up a floating toolbar, then tap on the comments button to see the comments on said photo, and make your own. The other is printing, which has its own button on that toolbar. Tap on it and a dialog pops over your photo asking you to select a printer, and then select your number of copies, the paper size (assuming you have a printer that can hold multiple paper sizes at once), and whether you want to print in color. It’s a super-simple arrangement, and it’s only compatible with HP network-enabled printers.

So that's what's changed. Coming up later, what's actually new. There's a lot there too, so hold on for the ride.


I'm a bit underwhelmed with the whole Think Beyond event... So much hype.

The event was fine, but if the whole current gen devices not getting 2.x updates is true it makes me extremely hesitant to buy into this platform again, much less develop for it.

keep an eye on this:

HP may just throw a bone our way.

so they have to come up with a different way to cut and paste.

To say that you're hesitant to program for this OS because it left older devices out when it updated is ridiculous. My wife has the HTC Hero, which was an Android poster child, and 3 month's after she bought it, it didn't qualify for the latest increment upgrade from android's OS. It's the way things go sometimes.

thank you very much. people just love to bitch and moan on this blog. this slate device is great. i know i might be in the minority but i'm sticking with the platform all the way. i've seen android running on some of these 'holy grail' phones and it is no big friggin deal. google great marketing strategy to get OS on multiple manufacturer's devices. i'm not going to hate on that. the OS itself blah! honeycomb does look sweet though. but there is just something simple yet elegant about webOS.

You are right only to a certain extent. Product support and update does indeed have to end at some point or another. And to be fair to Palm, they did have quite a few OTUs. But that is only a very small part of that.

HP/Palm publically announced that 2.x would come to the original Pre hardware and that changes things considerably. HTC never said anything like that. The release of a new Android version is outside the control of HTC. You buy into Android knowing you are buying into a less integrated and controlled software/hardware combination. But Palm and WebOS are supposed to be benefitting from that integration. Just like iOS and the iPhone.

By denying an HTC upgrade, they made sure things could only get better if they changed their mind. Not the HP way, of course.

I think it is reasonable to expect at least one major OS upgrade in this case - especially when they have promised to do so.

And at this point in time HP has not come up with a consistent reason for denying the 2.x upgrade. Is it due to Pre/Pixi hardware limitations, or is it due to back end hardware? Can they make up their minds please. The last thing the customers need now is ore uncertainty coming from HP.

Right, because 2 years of support for HP is inferior to 1 (if you're lucky) on Android.

It's the fact over and over again they said they would.

fyi: the original droid is on the latest OS update.

FYI: The original droid is NOT on the latest OS update. The latest OS update for Android is 2.3 Gingerbread, and the only Android phone up to date is the Nexus S.

I love it. I think it's badass tablet. 100% purchase from meeeee

I have come to a conundrum..... 1.) it doesn't make sense that hp would abandon their extreme loyalists like myself for a whole new "possible test market demographic."Why not embrace us ye olde folk who want the new hardware but don't wanna be left behind in user experience. We are the ones who shall spread the positive outlook in order to make apple "less cool"2.) why would hp slow down the process of the OTA by sucumbing to ancient technology when everyone, including I, want the new stuff anyway(yes I know they promised flash sooo long ago). The only problem is we've waited sooo long like many a time before and there still dangling carrots infront of our faces(sprint faces)

Yeah, it is pretty frustrating to read about 3.0 on my Sprint Palm Pre minus that doesn't even have 2.0. I was really hoping they'd release at least 2.0 today in addition to some exciting additions to the app catalog.

These new devices are definitely exciting, but they won't be out in the next few weeks and Nick makes an excellent point about being hesitant to buy into the platform if they don't release the updates to their existing phones.

i want this touchpad! im not so sure about the pre3 i wish it was without the slider!

HP failed HARD today, IMO.

they need sales of NEW DEVICES! Go out & support webos! ..... Please please please be on Sprint!

Not sure if anyone will catch this, but I don't know how to contact the folks who are at the dev event tonight.

Could someone please ask if the newer versions of webOS have made any improvement to PIM data management? One example, can contacts be organized and viewed by group? Any other developments?

Thank you!

Derek, is there any swipe up to get launcher or swipe down to open notifications, wifi etc.?

Please say it's so!

The lack of a gesture area is absolutely unacceptable. My god, does no one at that company understand their market?

I still want this thing, but honestly there will be a helluva lot of new products before we can get our hands on it. I may not have any money left by then.

If HP gave many of you $1 million dollars each in $50 bills, you would complain how they failed b/c they didnt give it to you in $

Just amazing to see the same type comments on EVERY thread.

Been following HP/Palm's progress since last year when I needed a phone...can't believe how people complain...
If you want webOS 2+, buy the new phone...if you don't like the form another phone...if you don't like the another pad...
Stop bitching about what HP should do for YOU...go for some other solution...when everyone else goes with HP and can move from their tiny phone to Touchpad to PC to printer with just a'll still be bitching about some shit or the other...
I will use my cheap ass phone that makes calls till the Pre3 comes out...and get the Touchpad when that comes out too...KINDLE!!!! Whoopiee!!!

The problem is, most of us can't buy the new phone! The Pre 2 is the only one coming out anytime soon, and thats only for Verizon. While many of us who have been lugging around the increasingly ancient Sprint Pre are stuck waiting to hear if we're even going to get the pre 3 when it comes out. Pretty sure the pre 2 wont.Same goes for AT&T.

And as far as what HP should do for us, I think it's pretty reasonable to bitch when the company promises an update numerous times, than decides against it just after they announce new hardware. It's a big F.U. to all the people have supported their platform for the past 2 years, and definatly gonna cost them as far as return customers go, and customer recommendations for future products.

The TouchPad looks awesome, when it's released I'm there first in line to get one. HP hit a home run with it today and this is just the beginning, just wait and see doubters.

Is the 'wave' still present?

I'm excited and disappointed.

Everything looks great, I want to get rid of the Blackberry, and Pre 3 looks like a great solution.

Unfortunately, I have to wait until summer.

Meanwhile, iPhone4 and iPad2 are available/coming soon respectively.

Should I give up some features I want, or wait around for months more, again?

I WAS waiting for Verizon and the Pre 2, announced in October, but.......

Love this UI. Definitely buying this thing!

I like the touchpad,I do wish it had the gesture area though.It could have also had another camera.Can the front facing camera be used to take pics? Other then that I like the touchpad.

Well I think there are things to be excited about and definitely things to be disappointed about with this tablet. To be real general and broad...

Excited for...
a tablet running hp webOS.
tap to share
viable virtual keyboard

Disappointed by...
lack of gestures on a tablet. dude. seriously? this was one of those things that help create a "differentiated user experience". Since its not out until summer hp definitely needs to toss that in.
Glossy back? Um... I'm pretty sure that will slide out of my hands just like the pre did. if its touchstone compatible, wouldn't it have the rubberized back?

It's a start, but they really missed out on some points. I don't understand why hp felt they needed to subtract from an already functioning OS. They really could have gotten away with slapping 2.0 on that thing, with virtual keyboard and be ok. 3.0 seems like a lifetime away. Hell, most of us haven't even seen 2.0.

What I'm encouraged by, is that even though this tablet may not kill in the market, webOS will live on. It always seems to be hardware issues that need to be worked out. But there is a defined and intriguing road map with lots of promise. Moving closer to a more refined "continuous client". webOS has not reached its full potential, there's definitely room for growth.

We have hyped ourselves up so much and for so long, that anything that hp put out there was not going to be enough. But a step back, and what I see, is that webOS will be around whether we like it or not. And from stepping back, I also see the other mobile platforms are still inferior when it comes to the user experience. The " Tablet Race" has really just begun, and since I'm a geek I will buy the new TouchPad. (hp Canvas would have been so much better)

I think the TouchPad is great w/webOS running on it. I also think the Pre 3 has great potential as I love the Pre form factor.

Bummed they didn't give prices, carriers & more specific launch times (at least a specific month). If they come to Sprint, I am there. If they don't...don't know.

The lack of GPS on the WI FI version is a killer for me. Also disappointed that swiping has been eliminated.

I am excited for the TouchPad. This is at the top of my Chrsitmas list. (Yes you read right. I am using my salt shaker.)

I love Palm and my Palm Pre Plus. WebOS is definately the best phone & pad OS out there from what I see.

Only conplaint, HP you need to really get into the releasing scene. Faster releases after the announcements of the product = better sales and larger profits. Strike while the iron is HOT!!! :-D

First off...this tablet is a legit piece of hardware with pretty much the most advanced webOS version to date. Why are people so upset? Because update 2.0 will not be released OTA? Because people ASSUMED that HP said they were? Because HP's CEO said in an interview that devices announced would be released within weeks? Pre 2 will be released in less than 2 weeks. The Veer will be released in March...still within a 'few weeks' like he stated. I am not on Verizon so I don't have the chance to get the Pre 2. Being a Sprint (day 1 Pre owner), I was little upset about the news but hey...things happen. It is not like nobody has ever broken their word or promise, right? Most of the time it is not because people want to break their promise but because of circumstances of current situations sometimes you just have to. There will be angry webOS loyalists all over the place on this site and many others and no matter what I or anyone else says...they'll complain and rant about being lied to. If you don't agree with what HP, Jon, or whomever it may be then there are others you can support. iOS, Windows Phone 7, Android, and RIM. Do it...but do it without being downers. Like I said, when I found out I was upset too, but then I rationalized why they went the route. Will I get a Veer? As I am currently on Sprint it wont be an option for me. Will I get a Pre 3? Heck yea if it lands on Sprint. Why wouldn't I? All I wanted was a bigger screen, hi rez, more RAM, and an overall better build quality. That's what they're offering now. It's perfect. Actualy, I take that back. If it was 4G capable...not not that HSDPA+...but like WiMax/LTE, it be perfect. No dual core? The Pre 3 is a smartphone, not a tablet. Running an optimized OS with a chip running at 1.4Ghz is efficient enough for ANYTHING. It is not a gaming device so a multi core processor can wait. I'm saving up for these two items...and for whatever the future holds for webOS. " company is perfect, why hold this against one who is bringing life to what you love."

ps. ...for those who are upset, whether it be because you've been stuck on the original Pre or because you have this idea that you've been duped, HP is making things right. I have two assumptions on this. 1) They will release some type of webOS Doctor so that we can update our devices manually. I don't think it will be 2.0 - but maybe something that will hold us over until these devices hit. 2) My second assumption is that they will go through the Palm Profile Cloud Database and send out Vouchers (via email) for some type of upgrade discount on the new smartphones. These will not apply to the TouchPad.

My original Day 1 Pre lasted until 6 months ago. The replacement I received from Sprint has needed repair for at least 1 month. I was holding out for the Feb. announcement and would prefer to stay with both Pre and Sprint. So now I can wait 4-6 months and take a chance that Pre 3 will be a Sprint phone, or not wait and jump to ????.

I want a non-Ipad Tablet. So again I can wait 4-6 months and see what the Touchpad carrier/contract looks like or...........

I've been with Palm for more than 16 years but I don't know how much longer I can look forward to, but not have a new phone.