Highly innovative but remarkably illusive – that’s how I describe the webOS. The operating system never made its way to The Netherlands, and as such, I never got to try it. Now that Palm is part of HP, development on webOS continues, and the company has just detailed what’s coming for developers in version 2.0.
If I think of webOS, I think of two things: the card metaphor for multitasking, and the unique SDK and API, which is based on web technologies. Both of these defining features of Palm’s mobile operating system will be improved and extended in webOS 2.0. On top of that, several other improvements will arrive as well.
The card metaphor will be further enriched by adding ‘stacks’. Cards will now be stacked based upon how they relate to each other. “The idea here is simple,” writes PreCentral’s Dieter Bohn, “When you are doing multiple things on your phone, your cards are ‘stacked’ together in a small fan based on their association with each other. So if you get an email, reply to it, and then go back to tap a link in the original email, those three cards would be stacked together in a small fan separated from your other card stacks.”
Developers will not have to change anything in their applications to make use of stacks; the webOS will figure these associations out all by itself. Stacks are more of a workflow tool, grouping those items together that belong to the same workflow. Very interesting.
Universal search, which the webOS has had since its inception, will be renamed to Just Type, and it seems like Palm will pretty much leapfrog competing universal search implementations. Instead of just being able to search, developers can also create Quick Actions, turning Just Type into the webOS equivalent of Quicksilver.
“So, for example, a developer could make a ‘Tweet This’ Just Type action so users could type a tweet and send it all from the Just Type Interface,” Bohn writes, “Sending emails, text messages, adding todo items, setting alarm reminders, making appointments… We imagine pretty much any text-based action could be initiated from the Just Type screen.”
Palm was the first to combine information pulled from various sources together with Synergy, a concept copied by most other phone makers. In webOS 2.0, Palm will open Synergy up to developers, so everyone can add IM services, social networks, and so on to Synergy. This way, Palm doesn’t have to add services to Synergy on its own, but instead can rely on the developer community. Clever.
As said, a whole lot of improvements are also coming to the development side of things, so head on over to PreCentral for more information. A beta SDK has been made available to members of Palm’s Early Access program. WebOS 2.0 is scheduled to be released later this year.