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webOS News and Rumors

webOS virtual keyboard considered as future Palm Pre tweak

An on-screen keyboard found in WebShell, a browser-based SSH client, caused a small stir over a Precentral when screenies of it being used on the Palm Pre were posted. However, the keyboard was discovered to be just part of WebShell, and the excitement quickly dissipated. PreDevWiki has taken notice though, already adding a "landscape virtual keyboard for the web app" to their Development & Tweak Ideas page.

Many reviewers were unimpressed by the ergonomics of the physical keyboard on the Pre, and many users are still left wanting of a virtual alternative. So it would make sense that the possibility of utilizing a keyboard, such as the one in Webshell, as a basis for developing one in webOS has not been overlooked. Also, we should hope Palm has not ruled out a virtual keyboard completely for a future revision. Would you make much use of an on-screen keyboard on the Pre, and if one were developed would you expect it to rival the experience on say, an iPhone?



Classic 1.1 released for webOS; adds sound, increased stability to Palm OS apps

The webOS Classic application, which faithfully emulates many legacy Palm OS apps on the Pre, recently received its first major update. The new version brings in lots of needed improvements, including experimental sound support (SndStream API, MIDI playback), stability improvements, enhanced preferences, pinch-to-zoom, improved keyboard behavior, and improved application and data loading.

In addition, the blue screen issue that some users were having after the webOS 1.03 system update has been addressed by MotionApps in their FAQ. The update is free for registered users, available OTA from the App Catalog. Visit the official site for more details.



Install webOS homebrew apps without rooting Palm Pre

Ever since developers got a hold of the webOS root image, by rooting the Pre various hacks have been detailed, from installing a Linux NES emulator to an unofficial way to enable tethering. However, the next step in homebrew development is here, with a workaround allowing users to install apps without the need to root their device.

The simple procedure involves e-mailing yourself a link to the app (not transferring it through USB, clicking it through a browser, or e-mailing an attachment of the app). The link should turn grey when opened, and the app will appear in the launcher soon after. However, the ease of installation also opens up malware possibilities for inexperienced users; so now that the method is out there, e-mails containing .ipk files should be checked to make sure they contain desired apps before installing.

Precentral via MyPre



Palm webOS 1.03 enhances Pre sync, power management; should updates be mandatory?

Pre owners should be aware that Palm recently released a new webOS update, less than two weeks after version 1.02 was released. The 1.03 update weighs in at 13MB (compared to the previous 67MB) , and brings improvements to several applications; notably, improving sync functionality in Gmail, contacts and calendar and enhancing power performance in areas of poor coverage. View the full changelog to see the additions.

This is a step in the right direction towards improving battery life of the Pre, an issue which has put a damper on numerous positive initial reviews of Palm's new webOS handset.

Another feature of the Pre's OTA updates is that they are automatically downloaded and installed. While for the average user this is a benefit, some may find this policy slightly burdonsome. Like many devices, the Pre will download updates in the background, prompt you to install it, and you can delay the timer if you like. However after the third dismissal, the next 10-minute timer cannot be defused, provided your device has 30% battery power and a strong enough signal.

While updates by in large provide helpful additions to the system, hackers will likely find their tweaks negated with new updates (not unlike on the iPhone), and developers could be in for a headache if an update were to take issue with their applications. For example, problems with the Classic App were reported after the update; although users have since found a fix.

PhoneNews even goes so far to suggest forced updates could be a danger; for example in the unlikely case an update were to brick your phone (or drain too much battery) and you need to dial 911, only to find a dead phone in your pocket. Do you think Palm should give you the option of choosing not to install an update, for whatever reason?

Sources: Gizmodo, Precentral



Palm Mojo SDK planned by the end of summer; early access to be expanded

Palm announced today on their developer blog that their goal is to "make the SDK available to everyone by the end of summer". The progression towards a public release would happen in stages, notes Chuq Von Rospach, Palm Developer Community Manager. The expansion will include ramping up the Palm Mojo SDK early access program and increasing the freedoms of early Mojo developers to discuss their experiences. From the blog:

  • Beginning immediately, we’ll accelerate the growth of the early access program, expanding as quickly as resources allow. Over the next few weeks, the program will grow from hundreds to thousands of developers.
  • Simultaneously, we’ll begin publishing more content outside the early access program, and we’ll launch new confidentiality rules that will allow early Mojo developers to communicate more freely with the rest of the world.
  • As soon as we can, we’ll open the SDK to all legitimate requests.

Also mentioned in the post is Palm's stance towards webOS development "experiments" that have arisen over the past week (derived from the webOS root for the Pre). So far, their stance seems quite moderate towards developers that cross official boundaries.

While they acknowledge that many will want to tweak the system, instead of condemning Palm is taking a more open approach, reminding us that formal offerings and community efforts around those offerings, will by in large provide the best experience. Palm also recently opened a webOS Open Source Portal to ramp up interest in the platform.

Also, if all goes to plan you should have the Palm webOS book (due out mid-August) in your hands for the SDK. The book is an official guide to building native applications in Palm webOS, written by Palm software CTO Mitch Allen. Currently, Chapter 8 of the Rough Cuts edition is available for purchase online.

via Boy Genius



Root your Palm Pre: More webOS hacks emerge

In the wake of the webOS root image last week (and lack of a public SDK), programmers have been busy porting games such as Doom, getting a Linux NES emulator to run, even finding ways to enable tethering on the device. More hacks have since surfaced, including the installation of 1700+ Optware Linux command-line packages, useful Global Search addons, and tweaking the functionality of several stock applications. Follow the links for the install instructions; you will also need to know how to root your device to get started.

Enable the Optware Package Feed - Link

Optware is the product of years of work from the nslu2-linux.org project. The package includes many apps including web servers, compiler toolchains, protocol analysers, and much more. These 1700+ packages can now be installed onto the Pre, essentially giving the handset the full functionality of a Linux computer. While it's still in command-line form (GUI can be expected after the public SDK), all of it can be utilized without interfering with webOS.

Global Search Addons - Link

This hack adds several additional Global Search buttons to the Pre, from everything from Amazon, Facebook, IMDB, Wikipedia, and much more. This may be useful for streamlining your searches and may be quite appealing to casual users who want an easy way to search their favorite sites. The tutorial includes pre-configured logo graphics and code for each site, and once installed you just have to start typing and the new options will show up.

Modify Stock Applications - Link

So far, several preloaded Pre applications have been tweaked to increase functionality, many of which may be useful for casual and power users alike. Current mods are listed below:

  • Camera: Add option to turn off the shutter sound and add a self timer
  • Amazon Music: Currently, the Amazon app only allows downloading over Wi-Fi, this will allow downloading over EVDO/3G
  • Messaging Application: Add timestamps to all received messages and make the messaging app create a new card for each conversation
  • PDF Viewer: Allow the viewer to auto-rotate into landscape mode (only portrait mode enabled by default)
  • Dialer / Phone App: Turn off the dialpad noise
  • Sounds and Alerts: Change the notification and alert sounds on your device

More hacks are expected as time goes on. If you've tried any of the ones available so far, how has your experience been? Also, is there a current Pre feature that you wish was different / better and hope that a hack will be available in the future?

PreDevWiki via Palm Infocenter



Palm webOS Open Source Portal now available

Palm is moving forward in their efforts to appeal to open source developers with their new Open Source Portal. This is definitely a step in the right direction, with Palm recently backing PreDevCamp and opening up to developer concerns and suggestions. An excerpt from the press release via the Palm Developer Network Blog is below:

We are excited to announce the availability of Palm’s open source portal at http://opensource.palm.com. We’re using Linux and various other open source software in webOS to allow us to accelerate innovation through collaboration with the global community of open source developers.

For details about the compliance practices, we will be publishing an article to cover this topic in detail. We will announce when the article is available in this blog and make a copy available for download as well.

From http://opensource.palm.com, you can:

  • Learn how to contact the open source team

  • Download the various open source components we are making available along with our modifications

  • Download a copy of the latest open source license file that includes a listing of open source software used, along with their respective licenses and notices.

Stay tuned as we add functionalities to our open source web site to reflect the progress in our open source activities.

Palm Open Source Team

This is an good move for Palm, and should be an excellent resource for Linux developers and others who want to delve into open source for webOS and the Pre. Now all we need is the SDK!

Open Source Portal



Palm Pre hacked to enable tethering, despite warnings

With homebrewers busy with the release of the webOS image, Palm has warned PreDevWiki, an up-and-coming site "for collecting information about the inner workings of webOS", that discussion of tethering is strictly forbidden.

"We have been politely cautioned by Palm that any discussion of tethering during the Sprint exclusivity period (and perhaps beyond—we don't know yet) will probably cause Sprint to complain to Palm, and if that happened then Palm would be forced to react against the people running the IRC channel and this wiki."

However, this hasn't stopped hackers from doing their thing. Engadget reports that tethering is a go, enabled by rooting your phone, enabling SSH, and configuring your browser to run through a SOCKS proxy. While it may not be the most elegant solution at this point, it seems previous promises of Pre tethering may be finally coming through, albeit unofficially.

Also, these types of warnings haven't been enough to stop iPhone tethering hacks, which have been around for some time. Just be aware that Sprint is probably keeping an eye out for any tethering rogues, so better to keep things on the down low if attempted. Follow the link below for the guide.




Linux NES Emulator now running on webOS Pre

Just last week along with the webOS ROM, the secret Konami code was found to activate developer mode on the Pre. Now you can use the code for real to collect your 30 lives in Contra. Previously, our 8-bit favorites were only running via Classic, with no sound and bunk controls. However, homebrewers have tweaked the Linux-based FCEUltra NES emulator to run on the Pre in glorious, pixellated 320x480 resolution.

The process is fairly straightforward, notes CrunchGear. Use the root of your device to compile FCEUltra, tweak a few display settings to enable 320x480 resolution, and then configure the key mappings. Load up your favorite ROMs, and you're now ready for some retro gaming action on your Pre!

A short video of it in action can be found here. Hit up the link below for the install instructions.




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