HP's Meg Whitman has finally made the fateful decision on webOS: it's going open source. Follow along here as we track the former Palm software through its transition into a free-for-all operating system.
Apr 5, 2014
Palm's innovative mobile operating system, webOS, was never a commercial success, but the team behind it certainly had some great ideas. Now, long after HP largely abandoned the operating system, the team is releasing one of its most intriguing user interface ideas to the community for further work. The project is known as Mochi, and we first revealed it earlier this year alongside some of very last ideas that the webOS team was working on before HP scuttled its plans. The user interface overhaul introduced a cleaner, "flat" design long before Apple and Google made similar moves, and it included a feature that expanded "cards" so that you could swap in multiple panes at once for multitasking, á la Snap in Windows 8.Read Article >
The code and concepts that the team put together is now available for the community to work with via an open source framework, and since the team released its planning documentation as well, there's some hope that intrepid developers can build a working product on their own time. Alternatively, others may use some of the attractive design elements, like buttons, sliders, menus, and more for completely different projects. If you want to get a closer look at Mochi, you can check out the new Wiki and the documentation full of assets the team created for the updated operating system. As well as images of tools like buttons and sliders, the documentation includes working samples, including a very fun multi-colored activity indicator. As for the webOS team, it's going back to continue work on the operating system for use in LG's new smart TVs.
Feb 26, 2013
LG's first TVs running webOS will launch in early 2014, possibly at CES. That's the word from our sources, and loosely confirmed by LG VP of communications John Taylor, who said webOS is in "fast track development" in a conversation yesterday. "It's going to be in a product very soon," Taylor told me. "Not in 2013, but soon thereafter." What's more, webOS will be integrated into LG's main TV products, according to North American VP of smart TV Samuel Chang, who said the products would ship in "82 countries with multiple screen sizes and price points."Read Article >
Taylor and LG's North American VP of smart TV Samuel Chang called me to rebut my earlier report on the company's purchase of webOS from HP, in which I wrote that LG seemed "hesitant and even confused" about its plans for the troubled operating system. That's not true, said Chang, who said that LG is "very confident webOS technology is a gamechanger when it comes to user experience." Chang said that he sees webOS and its underlying HTML-based Enyo framework as being key to solving the "fragmentation issue" with smart TVs that all have different platforms. As more and more content moves to the web, Chang said he thinks webOS will "really help bringing content back to smart TV, to tablets, PCs, other products."
Feb 25, 2013
HP will indeed sell key pieces of its webOS product and team to LG for use in smart TVs, but contrary to earlier leaked reports, the deal doesn't include the entire webOS portfolio. What's more, LG's plans include the possibility of eventually producing a phone or other mobile devices that run webOS, although the company remains focused on televisions in the short term. The result is a deal that looks like a clean exit from the webOS debacle for HP, and the beginnings of another muddled, confused chapter for Palm's operating system with LG at the helm.Read Article >
According to HP COO Bill Veghte, LG will acquire the source code, documentation, websites, and team behind the client side of webOS, but HP will retain the entire cloud services division — that's the App Catalog, updating system, and other backend services that interact with webOS. "We see this as an opportunity to broaden our reach in delivering services to customers on a variety of plaforms," said Veghte. Most importantly, HP sees an opportunity to bring an app-store-like experience to large business customers who use cloud-based apps. "We can use this very broadly in our enterprise services organization," said Veghte, noting that these customers can deploy apps with tighter update and access policies in place using the technology.
Feb 25, 2013
We might not be seeing new phones, but webOS is still alive in some form, at least: LG has reportedly agreed to buy the rights to the OS from HP and use it in smart TVs. According to CNET, the Korean manufacturer has acquired source code, employees,
patents, and more in the deal, of which financial details are yet to be disclosed. Last year we heard that LG was working on a smart TV based on Open webOS and hoped to show it off at CES — that didn't come to pass, of course, but it turns out there was some truth to the rumors.Read Article >
Skott Ahn, LG's president and chief technology officer, says "It creates a new path for LG to offer an intuitive user experience and internet services across a range of consumer electronics devices." There's no indication of whether the deal will affect the Smart TV Alliance, which LG helped set up last year in an attempt to provide a unified software ecosystem for connected televisions; Toshiba and Panasonic are also members of the group.
Oct 25, 2012
Google TV hasn't taken off despite LG's best efforts, and now it seems the Korean manufacturer may be pursuing other options. According to webOS Nation, Gram (the reborn incarnation of Palm) and LG are working together on a new smart TV powered by Open webOS. While webOS would have a lot of catching up to do before it could become a credible smart TV platform, apps such as Netflix, YouTube, and Pandora are apparently being rebuilt for the Enyo framework.Read Article >
WebOS Nation's sources say that LG isn't "comfortable with Google's terms for using Google TV," as well as having understandable concerns over the platform's adoption rate and the threat of Apple entering the marketplace. WebOS would be an unorthodox way to counter these fears, but with the smart TV market still in a nascent phase it's possible any roll of the dice could be the right one. LG and Gram reportedly want to unveil the Open webOS TV off at CES 2013 — we'll certainly be interested to see if that comes to pass.
Oct 4, 2012
When HP announced that webOS would become an open-source platform, the company stated that it would be an "active participant and investor in the project," and it looks to be keeping its word. The Powerbase has found more than 50 job postings at HP looking for developers in Sunnyvale, California and Shanghai to work on webOS and Enyo, the operating system's HTML5-based application framework. The positions range from internships to both senior designers and engineers.Read Article >
With Open webOS finally reaching version 1.0 — and even making an appearance on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus — development of the operating system seems to be moving in the right direction. It's important to note, however, that many members of the original Enyo team left earlier this year to work for Google, so the company may just be looking to fill the gaps that resulted from the departure. At this point, the future is still unclear for webOS, but it's obvious that HP hasn't given up on the operating system despite its history of uncertainties.
Sep 28, 2012
Today is the last weekday in September, and that means today is the last day for HP's Open webOS team to keep to the roadmap it set for itself in January and complete webOS' open source transition. It turns out that the team was able to achieve that goal, as Open webOS 1.0 is available now as a final, non-beta version. The operating system itself hasn't experienced any major changes with the bump up to version 1.0, but the web-based Enyo 2 application framework is now supported.Read Article >
What does that all mean for consumers, though? We've already been told that original webOS hardware won't be supported, but now that open sourcing is complete the OS is ready to be ported to other devices. HP won't be taking the lead on that — it's in the hands of the developer community and hardware manufacturers — but the computer company has shown off a port of the OS running on a TouchSmart all-in-one. The company says it took only a few days of work to get the port working, and while performance isn't stellar, it's likely that it could improve with some more optimizations.
Aug 31, 2012
The team responsible for open sourcing webOS — composed primarily of HP employees — has hit the beta milestone for Open webOS 1.0 today, which is on track with the schedule HP originally announced for the platform in January. Though there's no specific hardware compatibility mentioned, we already have a sense of the plan here: the project is trying to align the kernel with Android's so that it can draft off of hardware that's been designed to run it. In the meantime, the package ships with an ARM emulator.Read Article >
All told, Open webOS now has 54 open sourced components under its belt totaling some 450,000-odd lines of code. The original plan was to hit version 1.0 in September — but obviously, that starts tomorrow, and the team's latest verbiage seems to be hedging a bit: "...with the September release we will announce our future plans for Open webOS."
Aug 15, 2012
A year after HP acquired Palm it renamed its new prize the webOS Global Business Unit, and now, a year later, it’s switching things up again. This time, the name of the new identity is Gram, reports webOS Nation, and along with the name change comes a refocusing; from consumer devices to "software, user experience, cloud, engineering, and partnering," presumably employing Open webOS and the web standards-based Enyo application framework, although we learned in May that several core contributors to the latter are on their way to Google.Read Article >
Whereas the webOS GBU was a business unit within HP, Gram will be its own company; still wholly-owned by HP, but with the latitude to look for outside investment, says webOS Nation. It’s not clear what exactly Gram is going to offer, and it might be a while before we find out. HP Chief of Staff Martin Risau recommends employees answer questions with, "Gram is a new company. We are in stealth mode on our product offering."
Jul 31, 2012
It's been an emotional journey for fans of webOS, but there was a glimmer of hope for those who owned the Palm Pre, Palm Pixi, or HP Veer in the form of Open webOS. That promise disappears today, however: Open webOS' July update contains the disappointing news that existing hardware will not be supported by the open source OS.Read Article >
We suspected that this would be the case: while HP turned webOS over to the open source community, the company does not own the intellectual property rights for the drivers that control the radios, graphics, and other components that power devices like the Palm Pre, and therefore has no right to release their source code. The hacker-friendly HP TouchPad will also be left out in the cold by Open webOS and HP, but it still has a some future in the form of webOS Community Edition.
Jul 18, 2012Read Article >
Uptake of Enyo 2 in the web development community will be an important metric to watch over the coming months; the team says that its vision of a "web-centric future [...] won't come to pass overnight," but the final code drop is an important checkpoint nonetheless.
Jun 26, 2012
What's the difference? They note that Open webOS will include "modernized technologies to better enable the community to port webOS to the hardware of their choice" and that it'll support "well-documented mobile devices with readily available hardware drivers" thanks in no small part to a new division within the WebOS Internals team called WebOS Ports that's led by Tom King, who's been deeply involved with the community effort. Considering HP's earlier verbiage about moving Open webOS to the standard Linux kernel to better harmonize with Android device drivers, it's easy to imagine that they're looking to shoehorn this platform onto common Android devices down the road.Read Article >
For now, though, webOS Community Edition looks like a playground for TouchPad hackers. The Project is reiterating the same September guidance for Open webOS 1.0 that it's been giving since day one, but there's no hint that we'll be seeing any new first-party hardware from HP on which to run it.
The official blog for the HTML5-based Enyo framework has responded to last night's news that key members of the team are departing for Google, saying that it would like to "clarify some of the news reports you may have read today." Notably, the team — which is an open source project that just happens to be comprised mostly or entirely of HP employees at present — says that "the majority of the engineering and leadership team remains" and that it's "redoubling" efforts to continue development. Everything we've learned from sources in the past day suggests that the Enyo members most heavily invested in the platform have indeed left (those "responsible for 99 percent" of the code, we're told), but it stands to reason that the remaining team would be looking to cast the situation in as positive a light as it possibly can.Read Article >
The post goes on to say that response to Enyo 2 — the latest version introduced as part of Open webOS — has been positive, and that the team is actually growing both to backfill the departures and to increase net headcount. HP's statement this morning indicated a desire to stick to Open webOS's original roadmap announced in January, which would have a final release in users' hands in September of this year; there's little question it'll need to staff up in order to do so.
What the Enyo team will do at Google is unknown at this point, but there are several logical landing spots. Android would obviously be an option — regardless of its commercial success (or lack thereof), few would argue that webOS is an innovative platform that Android could learn from, and Android's design chief Matias Duarte had previously led Palm's efforts in the run-up to the Pre launch. Alternatively, the team could slot into the Chrome group — web apps factor prominently in the Chrome story, and Enyo would do well as part of a future Chrome Web Store developer framework.Read Article >
More on this as it develops.
Apr 5, 2012
Last year, an audio-enabled version of HP's Touchstone wireless charging dock appeared on eBay with a discontinued Pre 3. With HP taking a step back from webOS, this review from webOS Nation is as close as most of us will ever get to the unannounced and never-sold Touchstone 2 Audio Dock. Based on what they've found, that's not exactly a tragedy. "For every 'we like this,'" they write, "the Touchstone 2 throws a roadblock up in our way of giving it a stamp of approval."Read Article >
The Touchstone 2 offered the inductive charging of the original dock, but added a Bluetooth receiver and audio out jack. When a Pre 3 and a set of speakers were connected, the Bluetooth turned on and paired with the phone automatically, streaming music to the speaker. This pairing apparently works very well, but audio quality suffers. Worse, the industrial design doesn't live up to the original Touchstone: the Touchstone 2 is both larger and lighter, so it takes up more space but has a tendency to get carried away when you pick up the phone. If only to satisfy your own curiosity, it's worth reading the full review to see what might have been at HP.
Mar 1, 2012
While the update is largely a developers-only affair, Enyo's cross-browser compatibility means we might see some great web apps that nearly anyone on any platform can use. Just so long as developers embrace it more than the original webOS.
Feb 14, 2012
On the governance side, HP has detailed how Open webOS will be managed. Initially — as you might expect — all individuals able to commit code to the trunk will come from inside the company, but it says it'll use "a system of meritocracy" to add individuals from the community over time based on their level of involvement.
Feb 6, 2012
When HP transitioned webOS and its app framework Enyo 2.0 to open-source projects, one of the major selling points of the system was its cross-platform capabilities. Now, the first app developed with Enyo has appeared in the iOS App Store. James Harris' FlashCards To Go has just come out for iPad, making iOS the sixth platform supported by the learning tool. BlackBerry and Mac App Store versions are still in the works, and an Android version is also out, although another Enyo app beat it to the Android Market.Read Article >
We took a look at FlashCards on the iPad browser a couple of weeks ago and were impressed with its interface and performance. The app costs $3.99, and will work with any iPad running iOS 5; support for older versions of the OS is apparently coming soon. It's certainly good to see an Enyo app on iOS, but we're still waiting to see whether HP can attract new developers to the platform.
Jan 25, 2012Read Article >
HP had to kick off its Open webOS 1.0 and Enyo 2.0 announcement with some app examples, right? Two popular webOS developers have just released cross platform versions of their Enyo apps, and they are the only proof you need that these apps are ready to spread their wings beyond the webOS coop.
Jan 25, 2012
Open webOS 1.0 announced: HP to complete webOS open sourcing by September, Enyo 1.0 and 2.0 code available today
Beyond today, HP expects major releases roughly every month for the next six or seven months, some of which will make some pretty significant changes to webOS's internals. The biggest might be the switch to the standard Linux kernel — a la Android — which will make it far easier for OEMs and developers to get the platform bootstrapped onto a wider array of hardware thanks to abundant driver availability. The company will be moving to the Apache 2.0 license wherever possible to ease and streamline development and deployment for third parties; HP says that "it provides a legal framework that balances open innovation and a dependable user experience, which is consistent with HP's vision for webOS."Read Article >
As for existing hardware, it'll be possibly for developers to get Open webOS builds onto their TouchPads over the course of the year, but regular end users — those without hacking chops — can expect an update in "late summer." Surprisingly, HP says that it's "looking" at all webOS devices to see if, when, and how to make Open webOS available for them, so Pre, Pixi, and Veer users of all flavors should keep their hopes up.
Dec 9, 2011
We've just had a chance to sit down with HP's CEO Meg Whitman and board member Marc Andreessen to discuss the future of webOS given today's announcement. Both Meg and Marc were eager to talk about webOS not as a dead end, but an active platform which the company would continue to put resources and cash against. Most surprising of all? The company plans to create new webOS hardware... including tablets. We've transcribed the full conversation — so read on below.Read Article >
Will HP be creating any new webOS hardware?
Dec 9, 2011
HP's statement announcing the open-sourcing of webOS skirted the issue of whether the company will produce future hardware for the platform, but the answer could have emerged in its accompanying FAQ. While not completely dismissing the possibility of using webOS again, HP has downgraded it to the same status as "other leading operating systems," meaning that the company isn't likely to develop hardware for it, but will "explore the viability" of doing so. That's probably as close as we're going to get to HP admitting that it's closing the book on its ill-fated involvement in webOS hardware and looking to fresher pastures. Oh sure, there'll be some vestigial support for the open source effort and the company will certainly keep a wary eye out for any upswell of support, but the TouchPad and (sadly) the Pre seem unlikely to be heard from again.Read Article >
Update: As it turns out, HP's plans do include new webOS hardware: tablets! Meg Whitman and Marc Andreessen just disclosed that fact in an interview with us, however they did also say that they "do not believe [HP] will be in the smartphone business again."
Dec 9, 2011
HP has finally decided the fate of webOS today, and it's an open one: the platform will be contributed to the open source community. The company says that it will be an "active participant and investor in the project," and that its ultimate goal here is to accelerate development. In other words, it doesn't want to pump the amount of money into webOS that would be required to make it fully competitive, so it's looking to the public to help make that happen.Read Article >
It remains to be seen what (if any) hardware HP directly produces for the newly-opened operating system, but it says that today's move creates "the opportunity to significantly improve applications and web services for the next generation of devices," so it certainly expects someone to fill those hardware shoes — and in this model, of course, anyone will be welcome to do so.