webOS 3.0 screenshots: Bing Maps, Music, and more [Exclusive]
While we’re sitting around waiting for webOS 3.0 and the HP TouchPad to land in our laps, we couldn’t help but wonder about some of the details of that tablet operating system. Well fret not, dear reader, as we’ve managed to get five screenshots from the webOS 3.0 emulator that give us a peak into some of the apps and features of the tablet operating system.
After the break you’ll find screenshots and our expert analysis (squinting) of the TouchPad web browser (aptly titled Browser), Maps (seemingly running off Bing Maps), the device menu, Messaging, and Music (heretofore unseen apart from a quick glimpse during the Think Beyond presentation).
Browser and virtual keyboard
First up, it’s been renamed from Web to Browser. We got a good look at both Browser and the virtual keyboard during Think Beyond, but all of that was in photos (and occasionally with our own eyes). Now we have screenshot! There’s not much new here that we haven’t seen up to this point: Browser is quite minimalist. In the top right corner you’ll find buttons for what we suspect are share, new card, and history/bookmarks.
The keyboard, unlike that of the iPad, is presented in lowercase letters, presumably until you hit that Shift key (up arrow) on either side and they all go uppercase. That dedicated number row across the top also has Shift characters, and they match up with what you’ll find on your standard desktop QWERTY keyboard. The bottom left of the keyboard contains a button labeled “next,” which we suspect lets you jump through text entry fields on a website instead of having to pick up your hand, tap up on the display area, and then return to the keyboard. The bottom right is the button that let's you either get rid of the keyboard, or hold on it to change the key height.
Like Browser, Maps is a fairly minimalist affair. A shallow gradient bar stretches across the top, holding a search box, search/directions toggle, and buttons for details (or something else that “i” might stand for) and favorites. Favorites would be a new feature to webOS, assuming that’s what the star means.
The big change in Maps over previous versions of webOS is the switch to Bing Maps as the cartographic provider. The change isn’t too shocking, considering how long HP has been a Microsoft partner (we also wouldn’t be surprised to see Bing as the default in Just Type search). Switching to Bing Maps has tradeoffs. Bing has a significant head-start on Google with the deployment of 45° “birds-eye” views, but without the massive install base that Google has they don’t have as finely-detailed traffic data (Google culls traffic data from literally millions of phones with Google Location Services installed, including webOS devices). One nice thing: Maps now has a scale in the bottom right corner so you can get an idea of how far out/in you’re zoomed.
We saw Messaging in action during Think Beyond, and there’s really not much more to talk about here. It’s the same sliding panel interface we saw in February, and the list view lets you switch between lists of conversations, buddies, and your favorites (presumably conversations from your favorite buddies). It’s pretty basic, as a messaging app ought be. You’re more concerned about what’s going on in that big empty space to the right anyway.
While the TouchPad’s notification area may have moved up to the top right, the device menu has not moved. It’s right where you last saw it, in the top right corner, but now grouped together with the time and battery icon. Tapping on it opens a very familiar menu, with the current date, battery percent remaining, screen brightness slider, VPN and Airplane Mode toggles, Rotation Lock, and a quick mute toggle.
As far as device menus go, it’s simple, but it’s full of stuff we know we’ll find useful. Being able to adjust the screen brightness on the fly has been on of the most popular device menu patch options in current versions of webOS, and adding things like rotation locking and a quick mute will make it even more useful. The inclusion of VPN in the device menu reminds us yet again that HP intends to market the TouchPad at enterprise types as well.
Here’s another one we haven’t seen before. Well, to be accurate, we did see a glimpse of Music during Think Beyond, but that was just as a static image that flashed by during the presentation. Here it’s presented as a functional app (though without any music loaded in this emulator), and it looks pretty much exactly like the Music app we saw a fleeting vision of back in February.
The left side features a fairly basic browser, allowing you to look at your music by Song, Artist, Album, and Genre categories, as well as your individual playlists. Nothing groundbreaking there, though it does appear to have the option now to create playlists on the go. The right side is dominated by the list view of whatever option you selected on the left. Without any music loaded in the emulator we can’t tell you exactly how this might look, but the column headers at the top certainly look as if they’ll be able to actively resort by song title, artist, and album.
A control bar stretches across the bottom of Music, with your standard back, play/pause, and forward buttons, a scrubber with times on either end, repeat and shuffle buttons, and a volume slider. Right about the volume control, however, is a button that screams “bigger” to us, based on every user interface convention we’ve learned from the land of desktop computers. What exactly that button does, we don’t know, but we have to imagine it does more than just bump the list view up to take over the entire screen. If we had to guess, we’d say it launches into some sort of screensaver mode with photos or album work or the like filling the screen while you jam to your Dr. Dre Beats-enahnced tunes.
So there you have it, a quick look at the TouchPad’s keyboard and Browser, Music, Messaging, and Maps apps. We’re still at least a few months out from the TouchPad’s planned “summer” release, so hopefully it won’t be too much longer until we get to learn more about the first webOS tablet.