What do you want in webOS 2.0? | webOS Nation
 
 

What do you want in webOS 2.0?

by Dieter Bohn Tue, 03 Aug 2010 11:00 am EDT

 

Now that we have official confirmation that webOS 2.0 is due later this year, it's time to ask: what do you want to see in it? Obviously we know (trust us, we know) that the biggest need out there right now is new hardware and we'd like to think that some of the features of webOS 2.0 will be driven by whatever hardware Palm has on the roadmap - ex if we have a slate coming, we know that a virtual keyboard is going to need to be in the works.

webOS 2.0 will presumably work on existing hardware, though, so let's focus on features that would make sense on the Pre and Pixi. Join us after the break to see what we know is coming, what we think might be, and since it's a lazy August Tuesday, a little pie-in-the-sky stuff too, in order of how likely we think it might be. 

What we will see in webOS 2.0

Palm has already provided a close look at some of the features and functionality that are coming in "the next version of webOS." We don't know for sure whether this will be webOS 2.0 or some interim version, but either way we know for sure that Palm is working on the following list of stuff and that it will be included in webOS 2.0 - whether it arrives sooner or not.

  • Background Services in Javascript: Currently, webOS does their background services in Java, but they're switching to Javascript for a few reasons - they can parse it faster and it is a better fit for their web-centric philosophy
  • db8 Databases and Sync: webOS will soon start storing its data in a database called 'db8.' What does that mean to you? It means that it's faster to store and access data and, more importantly, it's built from the ground-up for wireless syncing with databases in the cloud. This should make everything that's connected to Syngery - from email to contacts to calendar - faster and more elegantly connected to the cloud
  • Speed: The two things above add up to the most important thing that Palm detailed back in April at Dev Day: Speed. Those back-end improvements that should speed up the OS quite a bit, but there are also improvements coming in their HTML5 rendering - which will speed up everything since this is, you know, webOS. Hardware-accelerated CSS transformations and animations are on the dockett.
  • APIs for Developers: Microphone, media, bluetooth, bonjour, and more all en route. 

For more on these nitty-gritty back-end features, see the Palm Podcast below.

What we hope to see in webOS 2.0

Back-end features are nice and speed is most-welcome, but those aren't features that make the big headlines. We don't have any magical insight into the hivemind at HP and Palm, but there are a few things that we think are pretty obvious consumer-facing features that webOS needs. Everything below is, we hope, either blindingly obvious or based on past hints we've seen.

  • Better Google Integration: We're not talking Android-class integration here, but the quality of the gmail and google maps experience on webOS leaves much to be desired. If the excellent BFGMaps app has taught us anything, it's that getting googlemaps improved on webOS is more than possible.
  • Virtual Keyboard: Because it's time, folks
  • Printing to HP printers directly over Bluetooth or WiFi: Hey, you know it's coming, they may as well bring it now.
  • Proper document editing: Whether Palm makes an office suite themselves or helps a third party do it, it has to come and soon. We saw a QuickOffice icon on the Chinese Palm Pre last month and we're also still holding out hope that DataViz still plans to bring DocsToGo to the platform.
  • Flash: Yeah, we hope we don't have to wait until webOS 2.0, but if it's not here by then, it's a problem.
  • Mojo Messaging Service / Push: Palm needs a push solution and right quick. It will bring battery improvements, improve notifications for developers, and generally get them on par with BlackBerry and iPhone. Palm said it was coming, it's time to get it done. Bonus: we could actually leave IM on and connected if this happened.
  • Improved Social Network Synergy: Palm led the way with Synergy, but everybody else has caught up. Other platforms deeply integrate both Twitter and Facebook into their entire OS, from contacts to apps. We should be able to go to a contact on webOS and see their most recent notifications and, yes, even see their most recent notification when they call. Palm already has the groundwork laid for this in Synergy, it's time to expand it and make it best-of-class again. (Oh, and please give us the option to filter which contacts we sync over, kthxbye!)
  • Improved Multimedia: Now that the iTunes sync experiment is a distant memory, it's time for Palm to improve both the media sync and media experience on webOS. HP bought a music streaming company, we'd love to see that on webOS. Heck, we'd settle for an improved music app, video and picture gallery, and a much-improved camera app.
  • Improved Palm Profile management: When the tablets, printers, slates, and toasters running webOS come, we're going to need to get our apps and data on multiple devices with minimal hassle.

What other much-needed improvements do you see coming for webOS 2.0?

webOS: Your phone, anywhere

Look, the sort of stuff you're about to read from is the the sort of stuff that usually makes us groan - if technology wishes were fishes we'd have seen the release of the C40 by now. But we know that Palm and HP like to think big (and maybe get ahead of themselves sometimes) so we're going to present our one crazy, 'wouldn't it be incredible idea' for webOS that would help them leapfrog the competition instead of merely keeping up to the current par.

Here it is in a nut: your webOS phone mirrored on the web and on any webOS device. The feature that we know is coming that might be the most exciting is the db8 / cloudsync / couchDB improvements. Most webOS apps are built using HTML/CSS/Javascript. You know what's really good at displaying that? Your web browser. 

If Palm is laying the groundwork for their webOS devices to quickly sync massive amounts of data with the cloud and their OS can be displayed in a web browser and they are looking to have multiple webOS devices in multiple form factors... it seems clear that the thing to do is have all those devices just be different ways to access the exact same data - apps and all. HP's Phil McKinney hinted at this when he talked about separating devices from data and webOS is the OS that's best suited to this kind of strategy. If Palm wants to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack, this is a great way to do it.

Naturally, it would get complicated. Would 'native' PDK apps work on your browser? Would the necessary interface differences from device to device be too complicated to make it possible? Would it be secure? 

Like we said, pie-in-the-sky - but if you think about the basic structure of webOS and the effort going into more efficient syncing with the cloud, it starts to seem a little less crazy and a little more crazy-like-a-fox.


So those are our predictions, from 'most likely' to 'yeah, we're dreaming here.' How about you, dear reader? Tell us what you'd like to see in webOS 2.0 and whether you think it's likely to happen.

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