webOS updates, a look back | webOS Nation

webOS updates, a look back 66

by Derek Kessler Mon, 18 Oct 2010 9:56 am EDT

Palm Pre - the very first update With webOS 2.0 due out before the end of the year, we thought it’d be fun to take a look back at how far webOS has come since version 1.0. So we’re going to do that, and we’re going to go back to the beginning to start. Actually, we’re going to go back to the first update, webOS version 1.0.2, which landed on June 5, 2009, otherwise known as the day before the much-anticipated release of the Palm Pre.

It was a different time, both literally and figuratively - one only need look at the modern smartphone landscape to see how drastically things have changed since June 2009. For perspective, the top-tier phones of the day: the iPhone 3GS, the HTC Hero (only in Europe), the BlackBerry Bold/Tour, and the Palm Pre. My, how things have changed. After the break, we chronicle just how webOS has changed over the past 16 months.

webOS 1.0.2 - 5 June 2009

  • The clock app appeared, bringing the begged-and-pleaded-for native alarm solution the day before the Pre officially launched.
  • Several glaring webOS 1.0 bugs were squashed, including making the camera app run faster.

webOS 1.0.3 - 19 June 2009

  • Updates were fast and light in the early days, with many kinks still to be worked out once webOS was being tested by tens of thousands of early adopters.
  • Changes were also made to meet real world usage scenarios, including more frequent calendar and contact syncing.
  • Non-SSL Microsoft Exchange support was baked in, the first in a long series of incremental updates to Exchange support in webOS.

webOS 1.0.4 - 29 June 2009

  • Perhaps the fastest webOS update we ever saw, 1.0.4 came with one goal in mind: patching a fairly major security flaw that gave us our first taste of homebrew. The hole patched was that any application installer file (ipk) downloaded through email or the web installed without warning or prompt. While very cool for early homebrew, it was also a big vulnerability if left unpatched.

webOS 1.1.0 - 23 July 2009

  • The first major update to webOS, version 1.1.0 brought changes to several apps, as well as numerous system tweaks and enhancements.
  • Facebook contacts Synergy support was corrected such that removing a friend also deleted that contact.
  • Email received additional Exchange enhancements (including PIN enforcement and remove wipe) and the ability to sync new Gmail labels (as folders).
  • iTunes sync was restored for the first time after Apple broke Palm’s debatably hacky “I’m an iPod!” sync method.

webOS 1.2.0 - 28 September 2009

  • Amazon MP3 was updated to allow downloads over cellular connections.
  • The first ecommerce groundwork was laid in the App Catalog, allowing you to enter and store a credit card number.
  • Email gained search capabilities, merely start typing to search subjects, senders, and recipients.
  • Email, Web, Contacts, and Messaging all received non-editable text copy-paste (editable text having been available since day zero).

webOS 1.2.1 - 2 October 2009

webOS 1.3.1 - 13 November 2009

  • Yahoo Synergy synchronization was added, bringing Yahoo email, calendar, and chat support.
  • Contact linking support was updated to differentiate between similar-but-different names, as well as suffix-carrying names.
  • PIN-locking (both voluntary and EAS-enforced) was updated to allow PINs of longer than four digits.

webOS 1.3.5 - 28 December 2009

  • Version 1.3.5 fixed a major oversight that up until the paid-app expansion of the App Catalog hadn’t been an issue for many outside the homebrew community: Palm’s file system implementation partitioned webOS such that installed apps were in a separate partition from the USB drive. This allowed for apps to not carry burdensome security measures. But it also meant that that no matter how much space a user had free in the USB-accessible partition, they only had a small space available for app installations. Palm fixed this with 1.3.5, creating a system that stored apps in the spacious USB partition, but inside an auto-encrypting folder that would mask itself when the phone was put into USB mode.
  • The webOS update mechanism was also adjusted so that users could download an update over 2G data connections instead of just 3G and Wi-Fi. This wasn’t a recognized issue until the Pixi was released the month prior. With no Wi-Fi, the Pixi could only download updates over 3G connections, and if that wasn’t available, there was no way to get a webOS update. Palm eventually crafted an App Catalog app to help Pixi users stuck on 1.2.9 (a special Pixi launch-only version of webOS) and 1.3.1 get to the point where they could download 1.3.5.

webOS - 4 January 2010

webOS 1.4.0 - 25 February 2010

  • Custom alert tones came to Calendar, Email, and Messaging.
  • PDK gaming came to webOS, as promised at CES the month prior. The App Catalog selection was still limited to beta partners, but the bright new world of 3D gaming on-par with what was offered on Apple iOS devices was too fantastic to downplay. Except for the low market share app price premium levied on webOS users.
  • The ability to record video was added to webOS, bringing along on-device editing and uploading to YouTube and Facebook, plus sending as MMS and email attachments.

webOS 1.4.1/ - 31 March 2010

  • Paid app purchases were expanded internationally.
  • If you were a US Pre user, you already had app purchases, and instead reaped the benefits of multiple bug fixes.

webOS 1.4.5 - 30 June 2010

  • The most painful of webOS update releases, it took until 11 October 2010 for all devices to have webOS 1.4.5 available. Scratch that, it’s still not available on Telcel in Mexico. The suspected reason for the delay was for Palm to have time to fix a bug that affected how PDK apps saved files (e.g. your progress in a game), but for whatever reason that bug was not fixed even in later parts of the extended roll-out.
  • The groundwork was laid for the PDK apps program to be opened up to all developers, with proper sandboxing for PDK apps enabled. Prior to webOS 1.4.5, PDK apps ran with unlimited access to files all across the device - a major security concern, but not a problem so long as the PDK program was in beta. With the PDK program leaving beta, said PDK apps were in need of walls, hence the sandboxing.

So, there it is, the history of webOS updates. Excluding oddball versions of webOS (like 1.2.9 on the Sprint Pixi launch and 1.4.2 on the AT&T Pre Plus and Pixi Plus launch), we’ve seen some twelve updates to webOS over the span of sixteen months. It’s an impressive pace, one that was especially evident when major bugs - usually Exchange-related - were discovered soon after an update’s release and a fixed version of webOS was released just a few days later.

With webOS 2.0 around the corner, we’re looking forward to some more major changes to the way webOS works. We’re also looking forward to webOS coming from a Palm with the backing of HP. Our hope is that that’ll mean two things: more frequent larger updates (i.e. more new features, API support, etc), and more thoroughly-tested updates (i.e. no more broken Exchange support with every other update).

Now that you’ve read through the short but tumultuous history of webOS updates, what do you think of Palm's pace to date?


Looking forward to new WebOS devices. Palm could have done so much more with the Pre (Hint.. Hire WebOS Internals woulda been a good start.)

I sincerely hope 2.0 comes to sprint, I don't want to switch to a carrier that I feel is inferior,(any of the other carriers.) but I will.

You mean, you don't want to swtich to a carrier that's more expensive. It's tough to make the case that either ATT or Verizon are materially inferior to Sprint...

I have not had one issue with Sprint, minus their customer service which, to be fair we hardly went to a Sprint store so the service issue was more with the location. I travel all over the eastern USA and often find myself in small towns and middle of nowhere country roads and my service is rarely an issue. Meanwhile I have friends with AT&T with all sorts of problems, in the north east as well as the south east and parts of the west. Everyone I have known to be on Verizon has either moved to AT&T or switched to Sprint.

I think you might be working off a small n, my friend.

I'm on Sprint too, btw.

me? I'm not sure how. I travel from Florida to Massachusetts and usually as far west as Kansas and texas and everywhere I'm between. Not sure I understand how I am on a small network, if that's what you mean by small n

small n = small sample size

I do believe... basically stating that you're making assumptions based upon a relatively small cross-section of customers (your friends) which may or may not (mostly may not) be representative of service as a whole.

I have to agree. I used to have Metro PCS and being an astronomy student, I would need to go out in the country to the observatory every once in a while. I got no internet and was lucky to get calls out there. Moved to Sprint and got a Palm Pre and I get full 3G most of the time out in the observatory. In fact, I'm often the only one there with internet during observing sessions.

Maybe you can't, but as a 12 year customer of AT&T before jumping to Sprint for my Pre, I can.

My Sprint service has been light years better than anything I experienced from AT&T. No dropped calls, faster and far more reliable 3G service.

With the sole exception of not being able to talk on the phone and use a 3G data connection at the same time, Sprint has absolutely been a material improvement over AT&T.

Originally posted by Hrolf
Palm could have done so much more with the Pre (Hint.. Hire WebOS Internals woulda been a good start.)

Hi Hrolf

Rember, that (almost?) all OS upgrades have to be approved by the respective carriers.
Hence, many quick homebrew fix or other OS enhancement, would not make it into the final OS upgrade.

My advice would be:
a) a good balance of great developers at HP/Palm AND in homebrew/webOS internals
b) get some homebrew / webOS internal talents to work partially for HP/Palm as freelance co-workers.

Just my 2 cents. ;-)

Greetings from Switzerland,

I must agree with you on carrier issues.. I live & work in Long Island & NYCity.. Most of my contacts have att & verizon & most calls with them see @ least one drop during the call. When I call back they acknowledge it happens all the time. When I talk to my wife & Daughters Sprint Pre's.. Never a dropped call.. Many of my friends have switched to Sprint but not Palm due to perception of outdated H/w....

868 days on my Pre- & counting....

868 days? There are only 365 days in a year. You're saying you've somehow had your device for approximately a year more than anyone else on the planet.

Basic math, look into it.

There is absolutely no way you've been on your Pre for anywhere near 868 days.

There are 365 days in a year and not even 2 years ago was the Pre announced.

It was launched about 500 days ago, so there is no possible wa you've been on it for anywhere near 868 days.

great article. my biggest "fear" is that the improvements of webOS 2.0 are not "visible" cause they are not going to improve the look of the ui. if you like it or not: iOS is much more stylish, everything looks nicer compared to what we`ve got.

Sorry, that is strictly a matter of opinion.

As a person who has used both Android (Samsung Captivate) and iOS (iPad 3G). WebOS is much more stylish and is way more fun to use than either IMO. Android and iOS haven't changed much since their debuts...

I personally think webOS is just as stylish as iOS. Maybe the retina display makes it look nicer, but in terms of style, iOS isn't really superior.

I couldn't disagree with you more on that last comment.

For perspective, the top-tier phones of the day: the iPhone 3GS, the HTC Hero (only in Europe), the BlackBerry Bold/Tour, and the Palm Pre (sadly only in US).

I think the progress made by the hombrew community was more impactfull and meaningfull than any update ever released by palm.

This timeline demonstrates to me that the software side of Palm has been hustlin', they've made consistent, substantial improvements to WebOS.

It's the marketing and hardware folks that really need a kick in the pants.

webOS 2.0 due by the end of the year? I am guessing you guys have a better idea then that when it comes out. Sure seems to be a lack of coverage on P|C about a certain 5 MP Pre 2 photo.

I agree, I'm thinking the staff of P|C has a pretty good guess when it will hit. I hope this nostalgic look at previous updates is a good sign it's sooner then later.
I used my upgrade so my wife could get an EVO, so I'll be waiting until October for the Super Palm phone coming. Needless to say I hope 2.0 comes to Sprint as soon as it comes out for the Palm Pre minus.

?? Care to share what source of photos you're looking at that were not posted on P|C?

Really?? Its all over engadget!

again, a url would be great. I've been to engadget's website and the only articles they have on the palm pre 2 (including pictures) have already been posted on P|C. Unless you guys know of a hidden URL or something, there's nothing there that wasn't announced here. In fact, the articles on engadget that I'm looking at all say "VIA: Precentral.net"

By the way, the article with mention of it coming to Verizon also says there's no date.

ahhh! Thanks!

Can't wait for webOS 2.0 and new devices. My Sprint Palm Pre is just making it. My only concern is HPalm releasing the Pre 2.0 by end of year and then announce new super phones to be launched in February or March 2011. I am looking forward to the PalmPad though.

Can't wait for webOS 2.0 and new devices. My Sprint Palm Pre is just making it. My only concern is HPalm releasing the Pre 2.0 by end of year and then announce new super phones to be launched in February or March 2011. I am looking forward to the PalmPad though.

It's pretty bad that the WebOS world has so little to report, that it has to revert to what amounts to a clip show.

because they need to get new bad ass phones if they dont give us better phone's than that bumb palm pre 2 tham they will never have anything good to talk about, i mean look at all of the hot phones that are out some with live video chat, big high rez screens we will be left in the wind if they dont come out with something big and hot!

AGREED! I could care less about the past reflection on the PAST updates! I care about NOW! Iam so tired of the runaround!I have been a Loyal Palm user 4 a long time now from the Treo 600,650,700,755, and now the Pre which I have had from day1! I want,answers,conformations,etc...

Did they steal your money? Did they cause you property damage? The tone of your post suggests they did...

Something tells me that WebOS 2.0 is coming out this week. I have no inside knowledge, but with the EOL on Verizon this week (and some editors already having the phone and posting pictures using it) I think its real close.

The updates was fast back than but it feel like we been on 1.4.5 forever

Thanks for the summary. I am looking forward to webOS 2 and the new phones. Given all that has been going on at Palm, the pace of updates has been OK. I would expect more from HP now that the OS will be on more than just phones.

Yahoo Synergy synchronization was added, bringing Yahoo email, calendar, and chat support.

I've heard about this fabled Yahoo support but my Pre has never had it. I'm in the UK (and the only person I know with a Pre) so is that something that only the US got?

Germany here. I've got Yahoo support and am very glad about it! Looking forward to 2.0 :)

Hopefully this time next year we can have an article that looks back at the webOS hardware releases.

+1 Here's hoping!

*Snap* *Snap* *Snap* Man... pure poetry! Cant wait for 2.o!

Cool perspective on webOS updates. I didn't join until Aug 2009 so I didn't realize what the earlier updates had to offer. Pretty cool. I look forward to the future of webOS.

After checking all weekend for updates on who's getting the Pre 2... New release info... Maybe a spy shot... We get: a change log!

I'm trying to believe Palm. I really am! But you've gotta give us SOMETHING to continue to cling to!

I'm still baffled that the Pre2 is getting lackluster comments on the hardware while the HTC HD7 for WP7 is getting "whoo-hoo" responses.

From what I can tell, Pre2 and HD7 have comparable RAM and CPUs. The HD7 has a digital compass, and maybe a better camera. The Pre2 may have more storage. I ignore the screen size because that is inherent in the Pre form factor.

So why is the Pre2 "meh" while the HD7 is the "new hotness"? Is it just that WP7 is new? Or does it require giant screen to be cool?

That seems to be the biggest complaint that is launched around here, Screen size being first, followed closely by screen resolution.
It is just hard for people to get excited about something that they've seen since CES 2009 and not much physically has changed. I like the form factor, but I think they would get better air play by launching the Pre2, and also webos2.0 alongside a larger screened device, maybe something with a front facing camera too.

Looking at the time line webOS was getting an update every month, Palm was really working hard I give them that and then you notice that around the time of all the talk and HP buying them.. Everything came to a halt and hopefully for a good reason.. Im also excited for 2.0 cus its at least going to be something for me to get by until CES.. Im not interested in the Pre 2 like that.. And I dont know why anyone would think that 2.0 is not going to come to all devices.. I can see 2.0 coming out very soon... I've started to know when somethings up by what these P|C guys be posting... lol Cant wait..

Is it expexted that WebOS 2.0 will work on Palm Pre, or will it require a new phone purchase? Can't find the answer anywhere. Thanks.

ryleyinstl in the forums who is an official Palm Rep/Moderator says, "webOS 2.0 will release on current hardware."

Wow ! I've had my Pixi+ on July 2010, I've never thought that there were so many updates !
And now, WebOS 2.0...IZ GONNA BE GREAT ! I pray for the one who said it'll arrive in the week !

*pray* *pray* \o/ .o. \o/ .o.

Since everyone else is doing it here's my wish list:

1. Improved performance/battery life
2. Improve build quality
3. Increase screen size to 3.5"
4. Add 4G
5. Keep physical keyboard
6. Bigger battery
7. More internal system memory
8. Embed frequently used apps like Google Maps into the memory for faster loading
9. Improve the GPS antenna
10. Make the touchstone back standard equipment or at least change the sideways USB charging jack.
11. External microSD slot
12. Improve the camera
13. Add MSN Messenger support (or whatever M$ is call it nowadays)
14. Leave homebrew alone

Looks like Palm has number one taken care of. I currently rock my Pre with 800Mhz o/c with the UberKernal, it would be nice to have a permanent solution that uses half the juice. I would imagine the new proc offers more IOPS than the older one as well.

Less plastic and improved build. Love the Pre, but let's make this thing tougher and more durable. Improve those keys no matter how small.

I want a slightly bigger screen. The old one is a tad too small. That being said, I don't want to lug around a brick that I put up to my ear. Reminds me of the early cell phones in the 80's. If I really need to watch movies for any length of time I will use my tv.

Add 4G. I know, it will add $10 to the cost of our plans. I want faster data though. It will be worth it.

Keep the physical keyboard. It's not perfect, but I'll take the tiny keys over the tiny virtual keyboard keys any day.

I know they claim the new chip uses half the power, but they should seriously find a way to put a larger battery in the Pre. 1500mAh at least. There's no reason our Pre's shouldn't be able to last until we get home from work. Turning everything off should be a last resort. I want to use my device when I want to.

The Pre Plus has more internal system memory. Now, all Palm has to do is to embed the most frequent apps into memory. Yes, it will us more power, but I hate that Google Maps take 30+ seconds to load.

The current GPS reception is a joke. It's so great that Sprint throws this in for free, but it's totally worthless... even on sunny days. I would love to use the software, but if the satellite doesn't know where I am at... :facepalm

The sideways USB charging jack is a bad design. Sooner or later the port and/or the plastic cover fails. The best idea would be to include the touchstone back as standard equipment. Palm should also include a bluetooth dongle for the pc so that the Pre could move data easily between the pc without a USB cable. The less we have to use that plastic sideways port the better.

Put in an external miniSD slot. Thanks.

The camera is meh. At least improve the sensor and increase the pixels to 5MP. A front facing vga would be nice if we get 4G.

Why no MSN support? I don't use any other messenger app. It's one of the majors. Please add it Palm.

Leave homebrew alone. It has saved your device from the hammer many times. Whatever the Pre was lacking (software-wise) the Homebrew community made up for. It turned a product I liked into one that I loved. WebOS 2.0 may add a lot of those features, but I want the ability to fix the things that somehow get left out! C'mon Palm. Make it happen!

I agree with you on most points, but honestly, when you have 8GB storage on device, 16GB if you're using the + phones, why do you need a miniSD slot? To transfer stuff to your other phones? I only have the Pre, and plugging it in to my computer, turning USB mode on, and transferring files to my computer is much more convenient to me than popping in an SD card, transferring files onto the SD card from the phone, popping out the SD card, popping it into my computer, and transferring files from the SD card to my computer. Having all that storage space on the phone also means I don't have to shell out extra money on an SD card.

I like the idea of the external SD card slot because I would rather not have to plug my device in to do all the swapping of music/photos, etc.
With the card option, it's much easier.
Of course having Bluetooth available to move files between the PC and the phone would be nice, too...

With the card option it's a lot more work...

I made the switch over to the Evo and have been very happy with the hardware and screen size. I do like WebOs better than android as a system and hope that Palm will make a more reliable piece of hardware. The home brew community is also top notch and another of many things I miss. However, they have to get the hardware right this time. I know I am not alone with this thinking and have my fingers crossed for this summer...

Then > Now > and even getting better. :-D

"Palm back to the Future Update"

1. Update to include good old "PalmOS Global search" type function. First you want to search locally and thoroughly on your phone, then if you want cloud based search then "webos universal search" type function. After all synergy also has a local copy on the phone. Try typing 0794 on your palm WebOS and it will dial.(even though there are so many contacts in your contacts list with that prefix) it misses them all. Type the same number on Palm TX global search gets all the relevent contacts, searches within all your other applications, notes etc. (applications have customisation with enable for global search).

2. Some form of backward compatibility with Palm OS Databases, If Classic can do it as a separate program, why not include such support in WebOS update?. Programs like repligo could flow text in pdf files or show full pictures. Try reading PDF documents on WebOS and you cant even scroll smoothly from page to page.

3. Bluetooth pairing with any bluetooth device, not just hands free.

4. Palm Update, Just be yourself and do the things that you are known to do very well and don't be swayed by some passing fad. Just because Iphone or android is doing it doesnt mean that that is the best way of doing it. Have your Identity.

Finally this cloud search needs to be focused too. I tried to search my sir name on my friends HTC hero, by loading the keyboard and typing in similar to webos universal search, all the sir names that matched mine from the internet appeared, fair enough, but all were irelevant to my contact details on my friends phone, since I only wanted to ammend my new address.

Sir name... that's funny. Like Sir Loin of Beef? ;-P

or Sir Osis of Liver?

Well the new phone have a front facing camera? I want to skype with my grandkids.

if the pre 2 can't even beat the Evo (which released in may) then why bother

There's been a lot of talk about deciding between a Pre 2 or waiting until the next gen Palm phones come out. Palm would be foolish to try to create a phone of similar size and shape with drastically improved capabilities to the Pre. Any drastic improvements would require more room. If you like the size and shape of the Pre, modest improvements are all that technology today will allow. Yes, we want more reliable hardware, a more efficient, faster processor, a little more room for a slightly larger battery, as good a keyboard as they can fit in this tiny marvel... All modest improvements, but a step closer to the basic functionality and stability to the old Treo line. If you'd like something that can compete with the capabilities of the Evo, I'm sure if you wait, Palm will have one next year, but it'll need to take the Evo's size.

I have to say I'm really happy with what Palm has been doing over the past 16 months or so with updates to WebOS.
I'm disappointed that many, MANY, of the things I loved about Palm OS on my Treo(s) didn't initially make it to WebOS, I think between Homebrew and updates from Palm, they are getting there.
Palm has been working hard it appears to keep their customers happy.
I'm looking forward to being able to update my Palm Pre on Sprint to WebOS 2.0.

All these update, and yet the calendar still doesn't load for crap, the camera loads intermittently slowly (yep it's random) and can you say too many cards.... Sure, homebrew can tweak this somewhat, but the bottom line is WebOS is still not ready for prime time. Sad to say after over a decade of using Palm products it looks like I'm making the move to Android.
BTW, my girlfriend has the same issues I do and we never rooted her phone, only mine. In general, with homebrew mine works a little better.

Completly overestimated device - Well, I am a loyal Palm user since 2001 - and those days are about to cease. The Pre is a nearly total disappointment: really poor hw, slow app start, bucking scrolls, humble antenna quality, meager battery, software close to crap (where is the really global search gone???) - I am still astonished why I am still using it; obviously, I tend to nostalgia. Furthermore, the service is a laugh. I downloaded some apps for free which are now venal, e.g. Monopoly. Now, the wifi doesn

Well Palm world. I hope webos 2.0 is as great as some say it is. I like my Palm Pre a lot, but without flash support or equivalent, I may be abandoning ship. I use my pre for all web surfing, and some sites have flash as their video stream and my palm will not load the video. I tested an android and it appeared to work seamlessly. Any one else having similar issues?

Yes, sure. Just another weak performance.