Comment: Why HP should send a huge Thank You to S. Elop

Let´s face it: Many people like the Nokia MeeGo 1.2 Harmattan / Maemo 6 presented on the Nokia N9 – if you read the negative comments, these show concerns about buying a device which is abandoned on release, they dislike the last years Hardware platform or ask the “What about apps?” question – if Nokia hadn´t discontinued the MeeGo platform, one of these negative points wouldn´t be there, and the other two would be addressed by future devices over time (I think I read once that OMAP4 is pin compatible to OMAP3).

One of too many webOS 2.1.0 bugs (Device: Palm Pre Plus)

But let´s think about to whom the the Nokia MeeGo platform would have been a strong competitor. Many of you may think Android, and while this absolutely right in the long term, in short and mid term Nokias Meego platform would have been more of a competitor to the smaller smartphone operating systems / ecosystems, such as Windows Phone 7 or HP webOS, which are chosen by their loyals because of their usability, which is less flawed than Androids (menu button, multi tasking).

Nokias MeeGo platform is as it is (in its nearly abandoned state) already a strong competitor to what HP webOS is like – both systems are all about gesture powered multitasking. Let´s look deeper. HP webOS is – and I am sorry to say that – is flawed by the web technologies it´s using – JavaScript still is not running as fast as seasoned programming languages, and besides that, there will be some work necessary to speed up system services – just compare the HP TouchPads Sun Spider benchmark scores – the TouchPad is the most advanced version of webOS and surely requires some more polishing, as this is the first public release we are dealing with here (and no, it´s not the hardware´s fault, I´ve seen benchmarks were the Qualcomm platform smoked the Tegra2 used in most Android tablets out there).

MeeGo, as being a still rather new development on top of very seasoned technologies, performs a lot better (which has a huge impact, you have to consider that these devices are mobile, and less CPU usage is automatically connected with better battery life..), and as Nokia´s MeeGo UI is more than competitive, this platform with Nokia’s experience in the mobile sector (which while HP / Palm have some too should be superior) could have easily made it to the third position on the market, with a huge gap to Android and iOS still, but better than the rest. Nokia opted against a clear MeeGo push though, so this is all theory (most likely they would have stuck to the way inferior Symbian too much, anyway) – thanks to S. Elop,HP has another chance.

Success, however, is something that requires more than just good ideas, even more than astonishing products (that HP doesn´t have yet, the TouchPad, Veer and Pre³ are in many ways inferior). An alliance with Samsung (that build smartphones with Android, Windows Phone 7, Bada and LiMo already) could help with great hardware, but possibly killed HPs own margins and besides that, it´s the software which until now still isn´t more than a set of brilliant usability concepts that is sort of usable. HP has the chance to fix their issues, which are many – as Elop gave them some more time.

FSO: Qt based Aurora for Palm Pre, Pre Plus, Pre²)

The world of mobile linux is like that today: There´s a huge buzz about Android, less, but still some about HP webOS and MeeGo and very little about LiMo. But what about all those projects that started with Openmoko back in the days? Well, some of them are still alive and as that´s why I share this announcement by mickey and morphis, which was posted to the SHR mailing list a two days ago:

Dear FOSS-Telephony lovers,

today we want to announce something that has been brewing in our minds
for quite a while and will change the way we develop the
freesmartphone.org middleware.

In the past, FSO has been too much developed without considering how the
features will actually be used by the API consumers.
Apart from the great work our friends from SHR did, there has only been
a handful of special purpose FSO clients, such as
the Emacs client, Zhone, and Zhone2. Zhone (and its successor Zhone2) is
currently an oversimplified approach based on a
non-maintainable Edje file. We have therefore decided to develop a new
testing/demonstrator for FSO named Aurora that
is supposed to be the driving force for further development.

AURORA

The aim of Aurora is to replace zhone and zhone2 as development UIs for
FSO. From the viewpoint of a middleware architect,
it’s essential to have clients available that use the various features
of the FSO services. On the other hand though, this
time we want to create something that is also suitable for day to day
use. Aurora is supposed to be something we call
a “featurephone client” ? featurephones being those things we used for
telephony before smartphones were invented.

Aurora being a featurephone client does not necessarily mean it will
never get the “smartphone features” Android or iOS
are popular for, it rather describes our approach as being
as-simple-as-possible. So for now you will not be able to
install additional apps or features. Everything (you need) is part of
the Aurora client.

DEVELOPMENT PROCESS

At the top of every application stack is the user. Pleasing him or her
is the topmost priority. Technology should not stand in the
 way, but rather support the user. Hence, Aurora releases will be done
as user milestones. For every user milestone, we will
pick a number of user stories to be implemented. We will then split a
user story into tasks and distribute among the contributors.

SUPPORTED DEVICES

We decided to only support the Palm Pre devices (Pre/Pre Plus/Pre 2) for
the first to-be-released version of Aurora. More
supported devices will join after the 0.1 release. This decision has
been forced by the fact that we are only very few people
working both on FSO and Aurora (and also on OpenEmbedded). Later on, we
expect to see the OpenEZX family of devices,
the Openmoko devices, the Nokia N900, and possibly also a bunch of HTC
smartphones supported.

TECHNOLOGY


Some words about the technology choices we have made for Aurora. The UI
components of Aurora will be based on Qt’s QML
(Qt Markup Language) and will have parts written in C++ and Vala
(although we’re going to use Python for prototyping as well).
We will support both Qt/X11 and Qt/Embedded, the latter being useful on
smaller systems, such as the OpenEZX family of devices
(48MB RAM, no GFX acceleration, etc.)
For the first release we will only provide Qt/Embedded based images for
the Palm Pre devices;
those flashable images will be based on OpenEmbedded, however we’d
welcome people taking care of creating releases based on Debian, Gentoo,
etc.

THE CODE

At the moment, there is not much to look at, but feel free
to download the current status via git.freesmartphone.org -> aurora.

HOW TO HELP

Speaking about welcoming people, the major aim of this announcement is
to find people who want to share this vision
and give us a bit of a hand. We are especially lacking artists and folks
who can improve our user interaction.
Apart from the technical reasons, we chose QML to have a very low
barrier of entry. QML is easy to understand
and it also comes with a GUI design tool.

If you are interested and share our vision, please feel free to contact
us. We can then see how you could help us to get to the end goal (see
roadmap) even faster.

There are two possibilities to make us aware of you:

– IRC: irc.freenode.net; channel: #openmoko-cdevel
– Mail: 

Thanks for your attention,

Mickey & Morphis.

Some may ask: Why should I use my smartphone as a featurephone? Well, you don´t have to. But if you are interested in free software, this is a way to free your phone. Just think of it as a cool idea: My phone runs on free software. Pretty cool, huh?

On HP webOS and the HP Veer

As the HP Veer is about to be launched in the US (May 15th on AT&T), reviews are being published. Some are more positive than others, naturally, and i am not surprised that the reviews of the webOS focussed sites write about this new little kid in town a lot more positive than those that review everything. The Veer is special, and I felt irritated when it was announced. I felt like: Hell no, why did they turn the Pixi into a slider (the hinge is said to be great, firm and sturdy, though), and even worse, why did they keep the Pixi´s subpar display? I couldn’t really understand it and I can´t now and so can´t some others.

The one review I really agree to is the one that Joshua Topolsky, former editor-in-chief at engadget, now at thisismynext.com while building something new, did. Mr Topolsky is not a webOS hater, he´s been using the Pre2 for quite some time and told everybody that he liked it, but he is not a fanboi and honestly, there could have been more progress with webOS since HP bought Palm.

The worst part about todays webOS is the really bad Email application. I am not talking about Synergy, I am talking about the UI of the eMail application in webOS, which really offers the options one would like to see. To delete multiple messages (or, say, to mark some as read) is virtually impossible – you have to delete one, and then the next. There are a few patches in Preware for the Mail app, but patching is not for everybody and these patches don´t make the Application a good one, they are much rather quick hacks to make the thing less painful. The only thing that became notably better with webOS 2.1.0 is that you can opt out deleting mails by a simple swipe – on 1.* I once lost an important mail without noticing it because of this stupid behaviour, so this “just swipe and it´s gone” thing should have never been done in the first place.

Besides that, loading in webOS often takes longer than it should. Sometimes this is due to performance issues in webOS, sometimes its due to a slow network connection. But you can´t really distinguish it in many apps, so in many users minds its webOS that´s blamed, with its huge, slowly spinning wheel.

Another example is the startup webOS. Takes forever. Android Gingerbread is a lot quicker on inferior hardware.

I really think that HP should work on optimization or start something like a HP webOS enthusiast program, which receives updates quick and early and which allows people to really change things. Open
up some more stuff, make your development process a little more open, allow people to port over newer, more optimized kernel versions to webOS, make it easy to change the used version of gstreamer to allow for support of *.ogg and *.flac files, enable people to try out newer WebKit / V8 versions or something – I am pretty sure that there are tons of people out there, that would totally love to help you to make webOS faster if you open it up a little bit more. Move, HP. Don’t listen to your webOS fanbois, listen to those, who know your opponents. The main advantage of your webOS on smartphones is the great card based multitasking. But the others are getting closer. Android won´t suck at multi tasking usability forever, even Windows Phone 7 will get something nice and we don´t know how great actual MeeGo devices will be (BTW, MeeGo is quick at startup, maybe, HP, run Luna atop of MeeGo? Google builds Chrome OS on a MeeGo basis, so why shouldn’t HP do that?)

Back to the Veer, the little Qualcomm MSM7230 powered powerhouse. I won´t buy one. A small screen with an awkward resolution and not too great colors is not for me, and BTW, i consider the Pre/Pre Plus/Pre² to be a small smartphone already. A Palm Pre³, with a better Mail application… that might get me tempted.

A few silent days with the Acer Stream

I´ve been silent lately, because I took some unannounced blog & internet holidays. Before I am catching up, I want to describe my impressions with the Acer Stream, as I used the it all the time, I am able to share some more impressions.

When I first held the Acer Stream in my hands, I liked the physical “home” button, because it made it easier to distinguish this button from the capacitive back, search and menu buttons at the bottom of the Stream. Then, soon after, I felt different: You have to press the Home button, while you just need to touch the others – certainly an user experience issue. Now, after about 10 days with the Stream I must say, that while the touch/press thing certainly is an issue, overall use of the device would be much worse without the physical “home”-button for me, as it is easier to press for waking the “Stream” up than the power button, which is placed in a top position on the left side of the device.

Then we´ve got to discuss the music buttons – I don´t like them too much. While they work just as you would expect the buttons on a three button headset to work, you´ve got to be careful with taking the Acer Stream out of it´s pouch – if you hit one of the buttons and haven´t been careful with your Audio settings you might soon feel like you are living in a Dolby Mobile hell – while the sound is quite good for the speaker of a mobile computing device, it´s not that great, that everybody would simply start to dance and stop minding about the sudden noise.

Using a smartphone in public, people sometimes ask you what kind of device you´ve got there, especially if it is as rare as the Acer Stream. Those who didn´t notice the quite big Acer Logos where always asking whether my Stream was an HTC device – the others asked: When did Acer start to make smartphones? – often along with stories about their very own horrible mixed experience with Acer products and suppport. The fact that the Stream is being mistaken for an HTC is an indicator for nerdy design, as HTC´s designs haven´t been all too beautiful during the last years in comparison to what Apple or Samsung or even LG did, not to mention their european competitors, Sony Ericsson or Nokia. At least nobody asked whether this wasn´t a smartphone for females, which happened to me while showing of my Palm Pre (Plus) more than once.

All in all, the device is pleasant to use, as long as you don´t mess with the media buttons or simply disable them – even with a third party music app like Songbird you will find an option to do so. The soft touch back of the device enables you to hold the device easily – you may need big hands though to feel really at home with the Acer Stream, which is solid build.

The camera, as noted in the reviews I read before buying the device, is not bad – but it wants to convince you that the sky is violet, and lacks a (LED) flash. Using it with the lite version of “Camera360”, appliing some effects to the pictures tells me that the camera is at least good for fun shots – pictures are pretty sharp, though I ´ve got to mention that the results of this camera will not make you happy if you were using top level Nokia, Sony Erricson or Motorola phones or the Apple iPhone 4 before. In fact I used to take pictures of an entire trip to France. I really recommend Camera 360 after using it on that trip (I used the lite version, the full one must be even better) simply because of the variety of options of this software – the fact, that you can set up Camera360 in a way that all it takes to take picture touching the touchscreen (the Camera button on the Acer Stream is rather hard to press) and the use of the motion sensors with this camera application is enough to be worth a strong recommendation – be careful to set the picture resolution to maximum though.

Software is something that´s tough to comment on. Android 2.2 – Froyo – is available for the Acer Stream, while some may argue that a 2.6.29 kernel does not mean that you get a real Froyo here, performance in every day use and benchmarks is really ok. Being abroad lately, I had a few issues with roaming (sometimes the Stream was disconnected, while the network was available and I had to reconnect it manually) and I remember to be not too impressed with mobile network performance at home as well, but it´s not bad enough to break the deal – still I will write a mail to Acer Support whether Acer is going to improve the baseband software. Apart from that, you get, as mentioned before, good old Froyo (and thus Flash and many other goodies that are 2.2 up only). While it´s not Vanilla Android, it´s close to that – and I think that I would use what Acer build as their own UI if only the interface wasn´t performing that poor and the notification bar, which is normally at the top with Android wasn´t at the bottom – which is simply bad because of the weird look and the software keyboard, which sometimes interferes with the moved bar. Right now I am actually using ADW.Launcher, mostly because it´s so customizable, free and because I am used to it thanks to CyanogenMod, which I really loved on my T-Mobile G1 – I will try out GO Launcher EX soon though, as I hear that it´s even faster.

Unfortunately, this brings me to another bad point about the Acer Stream, which is probably the worst for some of you: There are virtually no Custom ROMs for the Acer Stream. But as rooting (z4root) is possible and there is the official Froyo update I mentioned 10 times before, this isn´t that much of a problem right now – Gingerbread is not that much of an improvement (though I totally love the look of it and miss the great Gingerbread text selection on the trackball lacking Acer Stream) and Ice Cream (or Honeycomb for smartphones) aren´t available yet, anyway.

This fact will most likely cause me to dump the Acer Stream again as soon as I can get another, similarily specced Android smartphone, preferably a landscape QWERTY slider – not that typing on the software keyboard was a problem (I am using the Gingerbread keyboard, btw), it´s just that you can´t see much text when using it in landscape – thus it´s not comfortable to do some real work – like writing lengthy blog posts like this one. Besides, for me updates are a must, the Stream is nice, but without tons of ROMs to try, Android is more boring than, say, webOS with its great homebrew community.

All in all, the Acer Stream is pretty much what one used to call high end smartphone in 2010, the hardware is ok, especially if I consider the 220€ price tag.

Palm Pre Plus + HP webOS 2.1.0: Very First Impressions

Today I received the first one of the devices I had ordered earlier, a Palm Pre Plus. While I can´t compare that thing to Palm Pre (it´s being repaired) I can confirm that the Pre Plus feels better than the original Pre – build quality is better: The slider is snappier and feels more solid, the keyboard is nicer, too.

webOS 2.1.0 is better, too. While booting the device isn´t exactly blazing fast, it seems that start up time improved a little bit. Besides that, I have to say that I like the new launcher – and I am pleased by the number of patches that is already available on Preware. While the Browser is better at HTML5 support now, Apps are still not too many, but a stroll throughout the AppCatalog, which is quite comfortable to walk through makes feel that the applications that are there are quite promising – and I am talking about the free ones here.

More soon.


Affiliate Link: Amazon.com – Palm Pre Plus Mobile Phone

HP kills “Palm” brand, presents S, M, L sized webOS 2.0 devices

HP held a great announcement event yesterday, which was all about webOS, the mobile OS running atop a linux kernel, which I find quite likable, even though parts of it aren’t open source. The UX is just great, webOS offers the user true multi tasking – it’s not only the cpu which runs multiple processes or tasks, webOS offers a great way to switch tasks really simple and fast – Android really can’t compete on that front, and iOS either.

Let’s start with the smallest newcomer (and thus Pixi (Plus) successor), the HP Veer, which, while still featuring the same 2.6” 320×400 screen now looks like a down-sized Pre, making it form factor wise a 15mm thick credit card. Most importantly the internals have been bumped up – while storage is still the same as with the Pixi Plus before, HP cramped some more horsepower into the little thing, making it a real smartphone: The SoC bump (QC MSM 7230 vs. QC MSM 7225) doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a real 800MHz second generation Snapdragon with Adreno 205 graphics and thus a huge improvement, RAM is said to be similar to the Pre2 – it should be around 512 MB which should be enough for serious multitasking – if only your hands are small enough to feel comfortable with this 5MP camera ;-).

Moving on to M size, aka Pre3, which will be available in an EVDO/CDMA flavour (Veer HS(D)PA/GSM only).
As the M indicates, this thing is bigger, and it is bigger than the earlier Pre devices, as the 3.6” sized WVGA (as opposed to 3.1” HVGA before) indicates. Looking at the internals, RAM is said to remain about the same – but it’s now a Snapdragon inside (before TI OMAP 3 3430/3630) – the model number is 8655 (EVDO/CDMA) respectively 8255 (HSPA/GSM) here – and that means 2nd gen Snapdragon here, too – but this time clocked at 1.4GHz. The camera remains at 5MP, but gains autofocus and HD Video recording – and there will be a secondary, front facing camera for video telephony) While the Veer is said to be out in spring, the other webOS 2.2 running portrait slider, the Pre3, will be out in summer – which makes sense, as the first webOS 2.0 device, the Pre2, is available in the US on Verizon from today on.

The tablet device (aka L sized according to HP (I believe it’s 9.7” screen makes this rather XL or even XXL) is much like the iPad – with better specs: about a gigabyte of Ram, a dual core Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU sounds like quite some horsepower, and it’s got some more fascinating features like a camera – the screen is just plain XGA (if iPad2 will have the rumored 2048×1536 pixel “Retina” screen, this will .um.. suck – as both will be out in summer). The name is pretty generic, it’s Touchpad, overall this is a tablet running webOS in its third mayor iteration (no gesture area, btw), which might turn out nice if HP manages to communicate the advantage of their solution – I will just mention the great synchronization with webOS phones here (I am typing this on my G1 and don’ t feel like looking up buzzwords).

All devices feature the same design language which surfaced first with the Pixi and its flat surface and was since refined with the Pre2. And there is on point, that I do not like too much about all of them, and which is really bad on the Pre3 and the Touchpad, considering that these are HPs top notch products: Storage. 8 GB or 16GB on the Pre3, which most likely doesn’t, just like its predecessors, feature a microSD slot really sounds like a bad joke – 16GB / 32 GB would have been much more adequate. It’s the same for the Touchpad, 32GB/64GB would have been appreciated. Please HP, if possible, fix this before you really ramp up production.

Having mentioned that HP plans to bring webOS to PCs, too (As a layer on top of Windows? As an Instant On System? They didn’t say.), these are some nice new things, and HP really seems to be devoted to push webOS – which is great, if only they keep the platform as slick as it is and don’t mess it up.

And guess what: They kinda mess it up: J. Rubinstein stated that the promised webOS 2.0 update for legacy webOS devices won’t happen – the community seems to be upset. HP says that it the Hardware wasn’t good enough to run webOS – while the webOS 2.0 might really stink on a Pixi, it most certainly wouldn’t on a Pre Plus. Probably this is the time to port Android to the Pre(+)… it should run just fine.

Prē only – Days 5 to 12

It’s about time to give an update on how my feelings on the Palm Prē are after using it exclusively for a time close to two weeks. After I found out how to switch to 2G only mode (which doesn’t hurt at all, as I have been wasting the 200 megabytes that run fast pretty fast (thanks to tethering)) battery standby time has become good enough to make using the Prē quite a pleasure. Even though apps are limited (exspecially for me, as I don’t have a credit card and can’t purchase any paid apps), thanks to the pleasant web experience (web rendering speed is fast) and the best multitasking experience I have ever had on a mobile device. After all this time I suddenly feel like I got used to the bits I didn’t find before, because I simply wasn’t used to the way webOS, I really don’t miss Androids menu button no more. What I still miss a little bit (but only a little bit) is a softkeyboard for the landscape mode which works like androids soft keyboard (tap the text area and up it pops). That would be cool, but I got used to what was so annoying at first: slide to have a hardware keyboard, and of course my typing has become faster as well.

Besides that, I did some testing to confirm the experience, that webOS’s browser version is not the latest. HTML5 Browser Test result is 132 points (plus 5 bonus points) out of 300 possible – your average stable Google Chrome (5.0.375.125) does a 197 (plus 7 bonus points). In particular this results difference is shown in webOS lacking support of most HTML5 section elements (all besides nav), several form element types and attributes, a session history management, support for web applications, geolocation and webworkers. We’re told that all this will be fixed with webOS next major overhaul, webOS 2.0 – HP / Palm is going to follow the web, as stated several times, e.g. in this Palm Developer Podcast. – which are an interesting watch if you are really interested in webOS or even just contemporary web development, but you’ll need some knowledge, I as a web layouter and maybe designer (but not really web developer, though I am trying to get into that), I struggled to understand more than just terms from time to time.

More will follow soon..

Prē only – Days 3 & 4

Short update: I get more and more used to the Prē – it’s funny how you get used to mechanism that are different to those you’ve been used to before.
Then I managed to connect to my University’s Cisco VPN network – by simply installing “vpnc” pre packaged for nslu2. The only thing you should watch carefully is your “/etc/resolv.conf”.

Only issue so far is the “not that well working” (ding-dong) touchstone charger and the battery life – but as I am a heavy homebrew user, this is probably my fault.

Prē only – Days 1 & 2

Soon after my “Further Imprēssions” post I felt like I should give the Prē another chance and try to use it all day for at least a week (without using my G1 in the meantime). In fact I plan to do so for at least two weeks, and I will try to blog some tips and tricks regarding the Prē, and I’ll try to do so frequently.

Before I actually started to use the Prē again I re-read the instructions manual. Probably I should have done so earlier, but as I was self concious that would find out how to use this device just by actually using it, I just had had a short glimpse at it before. No I read it really carefully while actually trying out all the described features and gestures which aren’t to self explanatory. Then I went on, sat down at my PC to watch some videos about webOS.

In the first video on webOS I watched (after quite a long time), a very important term that was mentionned: “Concious design decision”. Actually this didn´ t really get me overexited (like I was when I saw the announcement video stream of the Palm Pre), but it enabled me to finally get rid of my Android glasses and see the Pre without having certain expectations. I decided to stop missing the “menu” button.

This actually didn’t kill all the points I criticised about the Prē, but it already sort of killed my “landscape mode” point because I suddenly was able to imagine that Palm did this with having something in their mind, and while I was browsing the web I understood that Palm tried to make landscape mode a “better readable” mode, which is not the worst idea I ever saw.

Soon after that I realized, that the slider is a lot less annoying when you don’t use it that often. In fact, when you sit down to have some nice, hot coffee, and want to use the Pre to surf the web while sipping that coffee in a casual way, it´s really comfortable to keep the slider slided out, and hold the pre one handed at the bottom. And it’s fast, this Pre on steroids (Überkernel), compared to my good old G1 – and multitabbing becomes multicarding on the Pre.

Preware (which I had installed before, but hadn’t really looked at is another great thing. Whenever there is something lacking (talking of the default apps), I simply check Preware whether there isn’t a patch.

The first patch I want to talk about, is a rather simple one called “Read/Delete All Email”. It extends webOS’s mail client by offering two extra buttons, one to delete all mail (which I don’t use at all), the other to mark all mails as read, which is handy when dealing with mailing lists and ebay reminders as a person that get’s distracted when a device claims that there is mail waiting to be read.

Another one which turned out to be pretty nice is “Alarm Daily Options” which extends the otherwise too basic (Alarm) Clock, rendering it useful – I will not describe what it does here, it’s too obvious.

More Prē/webOS observations / wishes soon.

Further Imprēssions

As I haven‘t sold my Palm Prē yet (which is in a way unfortunate, as there has been a huge price drop recently) I feel like sharing my opinions on the Prē.

I have used it quite a bit, though not as much as I could have, because I use my G1 most of the time: I am afraid of scratching the Prē. While the form factor is nice (though there might be people that prefer a slightly bigger screen (which would result in a larger device) at less thickness), the Prē‘s surface is made of glossy plastic. If you ever handled glossy plastic, you might have noticed that it catches scratches easily. Besides this, there are some more hardware issues: The keyboard, which I don‘t really like, as it is pretty small. And there is no soft keyboard, besides a hacked-in one on PreWare which unfortunately doesn‘t quite do what you would expect from a decent soft keyboard: come up automagically whenever there is something to be typed – in fact this experience reminds me of the soft keyboard Android 1.0 on the OpenMoko had.

Having no software keyboard, you have to use its hardware sibling i already critisized, and this means, whenever you feel like typing something (or not, but you‘re required to) you have to switch to portrait mode. As a G1 user, which has a hardware keyboard which you use in landscape mode, this feels slightly inconvinient. In fact webOS feels much like you´d expect looking at Palm‘s device range: It‘s all portrait optimized (but I am used to landscape thanks to the G1’s keyboard). In fact you notice this when you get some notifications. Soon you will feel a little bit like watching a 2.35:1 movie on a 4:3 screen if you know what you mean. This, again, doesn‘t feel too great, so it‘s not as bad as turn to portait whenvever there is typing action thing. In fact I didn‘t manage to try out too many apps as I didn‘t want to throw money at Palm‘s App Catalog as I never felt like that the Prē would replace my G1 – after buying it. So all I tried out was actually for free (there are considerably less high quality free apps on webOS than on Android (though the homebrew/PreWare community came up with some nice ones) which is probably due to webOS proprietary nature) or inbuilt. And sorry to say so, but that‘s not it. I noticed a lack of creativity apps (like pianos, drum machines and alike), but there is one more point that annoyed me a lot more, being a heavy GMail user who follows mailing lists using GMail: No threaded mail in webOS mail client, and simple no way to mark tons of Mail as read. Really, webOS‘s inbuilt email client killed the experience. Not only it felt hard to write Mail (because of the keyboard issue), in addition to that it felt hard to manage my mails, or at least a lot more inconvenient than on Android. A simple GMail notification service linking to the mobile GMail web interface would do a lot better (sometimes I think so on Android as well).

While there might be further issues, which i didn‘t notice because I didn´ t dive deep enough into webOS, aside the mentionned ones which could be rouled out by another webOS update.

Conclusion: I have to say that webOS is a great platform with perfect mobile multitasking, which has nice animations rocking a beautiful interface (even great sounds) that is not that usable as it should be running on beautiful hardware which doesn‘t feel that solid or sturdy you would like it to. A platform that might be really great with a few new devices and a new software revision. I recommend to wait for webOS 2.0.

Regarding the Prē I have to say that it is overall a nice, rather speedy device which has a nice camera (image quality is more than ok and the shutter speed is the best I ever experienced on a smartphone (though I didn’t invest much in camera savvy smartphones). If there was a decent Android port (or a webOS without the issues I mentionned), it could be my number one smartphone.