App Catalog update pushed as an app update; adds new icon and promo codes | webOS Nation

App Catalog update pushed as an app update; adds new icon and promo codes

by Derek Kessler Wed, 27 Apr 2011 8:42 pm EDT

We assumed that the next webOS update would bring about the blue HP logo shopping bag App Catalog icon, along with maybe some new features like promo code support or carrier billing. What we didn’t expect is an alert from the webOS 2.0 Software Manager telling us that an update for the App Catalog itself was available. We suppose it’s entirely plausible to download an update for a system app as an app itself, after all that’s how things like Documents to Go worked back in the old Palm OS days – the phone merely referenced the newer version, no matter if it were installed in the device ROM or the user-accessible memory.

Back to this App Catalog update. As best as we can tell, this bump to version 2.0.22300 brings a new icon, and maybe some bug fixes and speed improvements. Based on that extra-long version number, we’re going to guess that this was not supposed to be made publicly available (and won't be for long) and is some manner of internal testing version that’s, well, not internal anymore. Our quick tapping around revealed that users can now use promo codes to purchase apps, which comes as a surprise since we weren't expecting this until the summer. Of course, there aren't any promo codes floating around to use right now, so while exciting, the feature isn't exactly useful at the moment.

Additionally, when you fire up the Preferences in this updated App Catalog, there's a moment while it's loading that you can see options for adding a carrier billing account in addition to the credit cards currently supported, as well as setting your default choice (presumably so you can switch between the two on a per-app basis).

The fact that we were able to update a system app by installing it as just another app leads us to ask an interesting question: could HP push out updates to individual built-in webOS apps as just app updates? Could discovering a bug in the calendar not require a webOS update to fix, just a quick push of an overriding higher version number app?

Regardless, with our suspicion being that this release wasn't supposed to happen, there could be unintended consequences to taking the update (apart from changing the icon). And while you can now view the App Catalog as an installed app in the Software Manager, it's not able to be deleted like other third party apps. So unless you feel like living on the edge, we can't recommend you download this surprise App Catalog update, should anything turn out to be funky.

More screenshots after the break.

Update: Rod Whitby of WebOS Internals has confirmed in the comments of this post what we suspected: this App Catalog update installs in the /media/cryptofs directory (where third-party webOS apps are installed to open app space to the full storage space of the device), instead of /usr/palm/applications where all the rest of the system apps are. In fact, the App Catalog has been in /media/cryptofs since the webOS 2.1 update, making this sort of on-the-fly app-by-app updating possible. If this system will be applied to other webOS apps remains to be seen.

Thanks to Brandon, Christian, and Mr Kal_El for the tips!