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5 years ago

Open webOS Project brings back the VirtualBox emulator

Open webOS Project brings back the VirtualBox emulator

by Ryan St. Andrie Fri, 01 Feb 2013 11:03 pm EST

Open webOS Hero

The end of another month brings yet another update from the Open webOS Blog giving us all a heads up on the most recent achievements related to our favorite open source OS. This month the gang dropped quite a bit of interesting information, probably the biggest of which was the revival of the VirtualBox emulator.

Back when webOS was shiny and new, the emulator was an useful tool for developers to test device-specific features if they didn't have access to the appropriate hardware. As you can imagine, this is very important as developers want their end product to work as intended on all the devices it is available for. Since Open webOS stands to be ported to multiple devices from various manufacturers with all types of hardware configurations, the return of the Virtualbox emulator will likely prove to be invaluable.

Next up is an achievement that is admittedly a bit over our heads: an upgrade to Yocto 1.3. What is Yocto? The Yocto Project provides open source back-end tools so developers can create their own custom Linux distributions, and that's for any hardware architecture. How exactly developers will take advantage of Yocto integration in Open webOS is an open question, but that's kind of the point. Couple with thinks like the integration of the Linux Standard Kernel and OpenEmbedded, Open webOS is looking at a wide array of potential hardware platforms on which to play.

Last, but certainly not least, both nodejs and Enyo are getting upgrades in the coming month. The nodejs platform is currently getting a small upgrade to 0.8.18 and should be hitting available in its GitHub repo in "the coming days". In the meantime, the Enyo 2 team is working feverishly on the 2.2 update which will add both BlackBerry 10 and Windows 8 support.

Yes, folks, Open webOS is still alive and kicking, and the team at HP isn't resting on their laurels now that they've completed the open source process. Progress is happening on all fronts, and while it might take some time, remember that all good things do.

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5 years ago

App Catalog finally gets dedicated online search thanks to dedicated user

App Catalog finally gets dedicated online search thanks to dedicated user

by Derek Kessler Fri, 01 Feb 2013 5:38 pm EST

App Catalog finally gets dedicated online search thanks to dedicated user

Eighteen months ago HP shut down the public App Catalog feeds, putting an end to one of our favorite features on the site: the browser-based App Gallery. The reasoning offered at the time was that HP's enterprise customers were concerned about security and to prep things for the impending TouchPad launch, it didn't help that the XML feed format used by HP was reaching its limits in terms of manageable size. While there have been fits and starts at HP to reanimate open App Catalog access in the form of an API, that seems to have more or less fallen by the wayside. Without an accessible feed or API, searching the App Catalog comes down to Google.

HP's left their individual web listings for the App Catalog open and available to the public, but there's not yet been a public-accessible centralized listing for the thousands of apps listed. While that's not yet happened, web developer and webOS Nation Forum member pattyland decided to work some Google-fu and created a snazzy little website that lets you search the App Catalog from the comfort and speed of your desktop browser: appcatalog.pattyland.de.

The site uses a custom Google search (specifically: site:developer.palm.com/appredirect [yoursearchtermhere]) to return relevant App Catalog listings per your search terms. The search site has the option to sort by relevance or date (the most recently updated pages at the top) and presents everything in a design meant to evoke the TouchPad user interface.

The site's already secured a place in our bookmarks, and if you're the type that frequently shares the direct URL for App Catalog apps, it's a site you should consider giving some attention as well.

5 years ago

Enable swipe to switch applications (LunaCE)

Enable swipe to switch applications (LunaCE)

by Adam Marks Fri, 01 Feb 2013 3:41 pm EST

This tip is only for HP TouchPads running webOS 3.0.5 and LunaCE 4.9.5 or higher

Tweaks - LunaCEOne of the defining features of webOS has always been the gestures that you can use to navigate around the OS. While the release of the TouchPad saw the first webOS device without a gesture area, it still kept many of the same gestures that were found on webOS phones. You could still swipe up to minimize a card or swipe down to access the Application or Device dropdown menus, but gone was the ability to quickly switch apps with the Advanced Swipe (full swipe of the gesture area). Because, you know, no gesture area was there.

However, once HP released their Open Source webOS Community Edition for the HP TouchPad (not to be confused with Open webOS), the group at WebOS Ports was able to bring back the advanced gesture to quickly switch between apps as part of LunaCE (pronounced "lunacy"), available in Preware. Note that LunaCE is currently in beta so you will need to go through the process to set-up the beta feeds in Preware, which can be found at testing.preware.org. In addition, you will need to have Tweaks installed on your TouchPad to toggle this new feature.

Once you go into the "Luna" section of Tweaks and toggle "Enable Side Bezel Gestures" to YES in the "GESTURES" section, you can then swipe in from either side of the screen to switch to the next open app, based on the direction of you swipe. However, this functions a bit differently depending on if you have also enabled LunaCE's Tabbed Card feature and the app is part of a larger stack.

  • If Tabbed Cards is not enabled, swiping in from the side of the screen will switch to the next app, regardless of it's the next app in the same stack or in a separate stack.
  • If Tabbed Cards is enabled and your current app is not part of a larger stack, swiping in from the bezel will act the same as if Tabbed Cards aren't enabled and just switch you to the next app.
  • If Tabbed Cards is enabled and the app is part of a larger stack, swiping in from the side will first activate the tabbed card functionality and show the remaining cards in that stack as tabs on the side of the screen. You can then swipe in the from bezel again and it will switch to the first card in the next stack.
5 years ago

Ares 2 gets a demo webcast all its own [video]

Ares 2 gets a demo webcast all its own [video]

by Derek Kessler Thu, 31 Jan 2013 6:15 pm EST

Ares 2 gets a demo webcast all its own

Yesterday we showed you a presentation by HP's Kevin Schaaf at dotJS showing just why you as a developer should be considering using Enyo 2 as the framework for your multi-platform app. But do you really want to do it all in code? Well, you might, but we don't. We've always been fans of the Ares in-browser app builder, though getting it updated to support Enyo 2 has been a process. If you're not familiar with Ares, it was originally crafted for the Mojo app framework and allowed developers to build webOS apps with drag-and-drop ease.

Ares 2.0 ended up on the open source webOS roadmap with planned release of April 2012. The code for Ares 2 was released to open source as planned at the end of April, but it was nowhere near complete, with the development process thrown all to hell by the departure of the core of the Enyo team for Google a month prior. So Ares 2 was released to open source in spirit, but actually making use of it, that was months away still.

In the meantime, development has continued on Ares 2, albeit at a slow and steady pace. To demonstrate where Ares 2 currently stands, HP's Mark Bessey took to YouTube with a 13-minute Hello World-style demonstration of the app builder. And true to the original Mojo version, Ares 2 works with the same drag-and-drop principles. There's a difference, though: Ares 2 itself is an Enyo app. Yeah, you can now use an Enyo app to build an Enyo app.

Check out the video demo after the break.

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5 years ago

Add an ebook to your device with pReader

Add an ebook to your device with pReader

by Adam Marks Wed, 30 Jan 2013 4:22 pm EST

add ebook to pReaderOne of the benefits of modern technology is that you almost always have your smartphone with you, especially when you are away from home. In addition to being able to do things like accessing your email or carry around your entire music library, photos and videos of the kids, and a few games to keep you entertained, your smartphone can also play the roll of personal library with your books available for whenever you want to read.

Although we did see a beta release of a Kindle app on the TouchPad, what happens if you want to load up an ebook that you were able to download from elsewhere onto your webOS device? Say, for example, if the editor of your favorite webOS site were to go full nerd and released a free full-length Star Trek fan fiction novel titled Star Trek: Aldrin - Sic Semper Tyrannis; how would you load that on to your webOS device?

One solution is to download pReader from the webOS App Catalog or the homebrew edition from Preware or WebOS Quick Install on to any webOS device - from the original Palm Pre to the HP TouchPad. pReader, by MHWSoft, will allow you to load up any plain-text, HTML, PalmDOC, MobiPocket (mobi), eReader (pdb), ePub, or Amazon (azw) ebook, plus any DRM-protected .mobi or .pdb file, onto your device for you to read. Note that Amazon and ePub DRM aren't currently supported. You just need to copy the ebook file on to your USB drive of your device and follow these directions:

  1. Open pReader
  2. Tap the "Add Book to Library" button from the app's homepage. 
  3. You can choose a specific ebook file type or choose "All" to get a listing of compatible files on your device.
  4. Find the book you want to add and tap on it
  5. The file will be loaded into the app and then appear in the LIBRARY of ebooks.

Once you have a book added to the Library, just tap on it to open up the book. While pReader may not be the most visually stunning app and does not support things like cover photos of books, it does have a myriad of preferences that allow you to customize your reading experience. You can change the background color, text size and font, method to advance the page and more by accessing the Preferences section of the app by swiping down from the top-left corner of the screen and selecting "Preferences" from the dropdown.

One additional action you may want to make is to change the encoding that determines how the text is displayed on the screen. If you are seeing a lot of additional odd characters at the ends of paragraphs or in random places, try choosing "Change Encoding" from that dropdown menu and select "UFT-8" encoding.

Interestingly, because pReader supports text and html files, this app does not need to be limited to just viewing ebooks. pReader also allow you to view (but not edit) any local text file on your device. Please note that although the app support html files, it will only display the text portions of those files and does not support things like embedded links.

pReader is available for free in the webOS App Catalog or Preware and is compatible with all webOS devices running webOS 1.4.5 or higher.

5 years ago

Why Enyo? HP's Kevin Schaaf explains why [video]

Why Enyo? HP's Kevin Schaaf explains why [video]

by Derek Kessler Wed, 30 Jan 2013 3:22 pm EST

Why Enyo? HP's Kevin Schaaf explains why

It's one thing to convince a developer that they should make an app for a specific platform isn't usually a hard affair. There are obvious reasons to develop apps for iOS or Android, and the most obvious of those is the fact that there are lots and lots of potential users. But convincing a developer which framework they should use? That's a different matter. Realistically they could use the platform-native framework, but if you're wanting to target multiple platforms (iOS, Android, Windows Phone, webOS, and web browsers on all devices) by just developing one app, there are only a few options worth considering.

One of those is a favorite of the webOS crowd: Enyo. Now up to version 2.0 and evolving, expanding, and building out in open source, Enyo's JavaScript component scheme allows developers to create modular components to build rich cross platform applications that… you know what? HP's Kevin Schaaf recently got up on the stage at the dotJS JavaScript conference in France and explained all of this a lot better than we ever could. Watch the video after the break and be convinced.

Source: The Enyo Blog

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5 years ago

The new BlackBerry cometh [the competition]

The new BlackBerry cometh [the competition]

by Derek Kessler Wed, 30 Jan 2013 2:47 pm EST

The new BlackBerry cometh [the competition]

Today the fine folks from Waterloo unveiled the fruits of their most recent labors in the form of the BlackBerry Z10 and Q10, both powered by the new BlackBerry 10 operating system. Truth be told, there weren't many surprises this morning from The Company Formerly Known As Research In Motion™ (they're now calling themselves BlackBerry, by the way, like everybody else ever has been for a decade) thanks to the steady stream of leaks over the past, well, year.

The Z10 is BlackBerry's new 4.2-inch all-touch smartphone (and practically the same phone as was jammed inside a squared-off casing as the BlackBerry 10 Alpha developer devices), while the BlackBerry Q10 is the physical QWERTY keyboard with a square 3.2-inch screen entry. The former comes out tomorrow in the UK, next week in Canada, and in March for the United States, while the latter doesn't have a release date just yet.

Both the Z10 and Q10 look like solid pieces of hardware, but the real story is the new from-scratch operating system powering both: BlackBerry 10. Based off the QNX operating system that RIM purchased back in 2010 (which also powered the BlackBerry PlayBook), BlackBerry 10 offers a unique and gesture-driven take on the mobile operating system, though we're not certain it's going to catch on.

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5 years ago

The webOS Wish List: Badged icon notifications

The webOS Wish List: Badged icon notifications

by Derek Kessler Tue, 29 Jan 2013 6:50 pm EST

The webOS Wish List: Badged icon notifications

A strong part of the foundational awesomeness of webOS is the notification system. Early on it consisted of a notifications bar that would pop up at the bottom of the screen on our Pre and Pixi smartphones and open to a full actionable dashboard with individually-dismissable notifications. With webOS 3.0 on the TouchPad the notifications were moved to a slot in the top bar (no sense in taking up the entire bottom on a screen as big as the one on the TouchPad) and gained the ability to triage through multiple notifications from one app.

The only problem with the system (there are ways it can be improved, mind you, but this is more of an "it really should work like this" than "I wish it would do this") was that once you had dismissed a notification, there was no record it was ever there. The slip of a clumsy thumb and *poof*, it's gone, never to be seen again. Or your phone is restarted - something that's not entirely uncommon with webOS - and again, your notifications are gone. There's no way to get around the desire to say "I'll get back to that later, go away," because if you swipe it away, there's no longer a reminder that you need to take care of it.

A huge problem? Not necessarily, but an annoyance nonetheless, and occasionally a frustrating case of "I'm sorry, I missed that *grumblestupidphonegrumble*". There was a period of time where I used Preset Reset to reboot my Pre every night for stability, until I became too annoyed by the fact that notifications of emails or Twitter mentions or the like were gone come morning (I had it set to reboot the phone at 4 am - it's very rare I was still awake at that hour).

The solution? Badged app icons in the launcher. Yes, I'm proposing directly ripping off iOS here. webOS already has badging built in, at least in a sense - expanded dashboard notification icons get badged with numbers all the time. But the app icon itself? Nope. In practice, it'd be a relatively simple affair, enabled through each app's settings. Show notification icon badge? Yes/No. I'd also suggest the ability to select a color for badging; I'd prefer badging on my missed phone calls/voicemails and alerts from Calendar be more attention-grabbing than, say, how many unread stories I have in my news reader.

Have your own thoughts on this or any other webOS Wish List entry? We'd be disappointed if you didn't. That's why we have the comments, it's your place to say how incredibly right (or horribly wrong) we are, plus there's a poll! And we have little doubt you have your own ideas as to what ought be on the webOS wish list, and so there's a forum thread just for that where awesome webOS dreaming is the order of the day.

5 years ago

Override your TouchPad's browser User Agent

Override your TouchPad's browser User Agent

by Adam Marks Mon, 28 Jan 2013 3:34 pm EST

Browser redirect for iPad agent

This tip is only for the HP TouchPad

When you are browsing the web--be it at a computer, mobile phone, tablet or whatever--certain websites will look at that device's "user agent" to determine which version of their website to display. Just as the webOS App Catalog will check to see if you are on a webOS phone or a TouchPad when downloading an app to determine if it should give you the phone or tablet version, a website may display different versions for different devices. That is the reason why a "mobile" version of a site will be shown on your Pre3 while a much more complex version of the same site will display when browsing on your computer.

With the popularity of tablets (like your HP TouchPad), there is now a new category of devices that may not be able to handle the full desktop version of a website, but can clearly do more than just the mobile version. In addition, with the enormous market penetration of the non-Adobe Flash supported iPad, many websites have created iPad specific versions of their sites that are perfectly optimized for tablets, but will never be displayed on your TouchPad because its user agent indicates that it is not an iPad. Not to mention that many websites don't know to check for a device that was cancelled 18 months ago, even though it could fully support those tablet-optimized sites.

While most websites will display just fine on your TouchPad, as is, you now have a way to easily update your devices "user agent" to make it masquerade as an iPad, a desktop Chrome browser, or a desktop Firefox browser instead of a webOS 3.0.5 HP TouchPad. All you need to do is load up Preware and install one of the three User Agent Override patches by homebrew developer Garrett92c and then reboot your device.  The next time your load up the web browser on your TouchPad, you may notice a different version of your favorite websites, although don't be surprised if the many of the sites you visit still look the exact same. Note that if nothing looks different, you may need to open and close your web browser one time for the change to take affect.

Unfortunately, just because you may access sites that are better optimized for your viewing pleasure with one of these user agent override patches, some unexpected behavior may also occur that detracts from your experience. For example, if you have iPad override patch installed and try to load up mlb.com's MLB.TV or its Gameday pitch-by-pitch that works just fine on your stock TouchPad browser, you get redirected to a page with a link to the MLB At Bat app in the Apple App Store (see screenshot above). Or if you go to the Flash-based speedtest.net site, you get a "Cannot open MIME type" error because it's trying to load up the Speedtest app in the App Store (which obviously does not exist on your device). Unfortunately, the only way to access these sites after you have one of these patches installed is to go back into Preware, remove the patch and then re-load up that site. The good piece of news is that even though the iPad does not support Adobe Flash, if you can get to a site on your TouchPad with Flash content, it should still run just fine even with the iPad override patch installed.

Give these user agent override patches a shot and decide for yourself if they enhance your browser experience or takes away from it.
 

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