Introducing HP webOS 2.1

Introducing HP webOS 2.1, the next generation of HP's amazing mobile operating system, currently scheduled for release on the Pre 2. webOS 2.1 is the biggest webOS update yet, offering great new features for consumers and developers alike. And the SDK is available now.

In this article we'll give you an overview of the key features of webOS 2.1. We'll focus on a few of the features that are most relevant to developers, but there's something here for everyone—so read on!

Stacks

Experience the next-generation of multi-tasking

The groundbreaking card metaphor in webOS made multi-tasking on a handheld device easy and intuitive for the first time. webOS 2.1 takes it to the next level by grouping related cards in stacks, reducing clutter, and making it even easier to move quickly between tasks. webOS 2.1 automatically stacks cards for you when it makes sense, and you can also drag and drop cards to manage stacks yourself.

As a developer, you don't need to do anything special to take advantage of Stacks—new cards resulting from user actions in your app will automatically be grouped with your app's main card.

Just Type

Let users “just type” to search or act within your app

Universal Search has always been the fastest way to find stuff in webOS, whether that stuff is on your device or online. In webOS 2.1, Universal Search has gotten even better—and it's not just for searching anymore, so we've renamed it Just Type.

Among the many Just Type enhancements is a powerful feature called Quick Actions. Start an email, create a message, update your status, search your favorite websites—all without having to launch an app. With webOS 2.1, whenever you want to do something on your phone, whether it’s emailing, texting, searching, or almost anything else, just type!

As a developer, you can expand your apps' capabilities using the power of Just Type. You can hook into Just Type in a couple of different ways:

  • Enable users to search within your app. If your data is stored on device, Just Type will present real-time suggestions as the user types. If your data is online, users will type a query and then tap to launch your app, where you'll present the results.

  • Define your own Quick Actions. Make it easier than ever for your users to update social status, set reminders, add items to a shopping list—or do whatever it takes to get things done in the context of your app.

Exhibition

Deliver all-new experiences for the HP Touchstone Charging Dock

Run new apps designed specifically for phones placed on the HP Touchstone Charging Dock. Set your phone on the dock and Exhibition launches automatically, showing you anything from today's agenda to a slideshow of your Facebook photos.

A few Exhibition options will be built into webOS 2.1, but we're counting on you and your fellow developers to make Exhibition truly great-- think slide shows; stock, news and sports tickers; social network updates; virtual pets; a killer alarm clock--you get the picture! You can add Exhibition support to an existing app, or build something new just for Exhibition.

HP Synergy

Connect with webOS Contacts, Calendar, and Messaging

When webOS was introduced, Synergy instantly set a new standard for accessing and managing your personal data on the go. The HP Synergy feature brings together information from multiple sources automatically, so everything you need is in one place. Sign in to your Facebook®, Google™, Microsoft® Exchange, LinkedIn®, and Yahoo! accounts, and information populates your phone automatically. Facebook friends' birthdays show up in your contacts. Work and personal calendars appear side by side. IM and text messages are combined into a single conversation.

In webOS 2.1, we're opening Synergy up to our developer ecosystem, so your customers can pull more of the web onto their phones. You'll be able to develop Synergy connectors for Contacts, Calendar, and Messaging--and later, for other webOS data types as well. Using the new Synergy APIs, you can let your users:

  • Connect to your chat or IM network from the webOS Messaging app

  • Access their personal contacts, their favorite businesses, or your community's shared address book from the webOS Contacts UI

  • View and manage their personal and shared calendars, keep track of their favorite sports and entertainment events, and more, from within the webOS Calendar app

JavaScript Services

Roll your own services with Node.js

The popular Node.js runtime environment is built into webOS 2.1, which means that you can now develop not just webOS apps but also services in JavaScript. The active Node ecosystem is on hand to provide community support and a rapidly growing library of modules that you can use in your webOS services.

Besides powering the new Synergy APIs, JavaScript services strengthen webOS's support for background processing and add new capabilities—like low-level networking, file system access, and binary data processing—to the web technology stack.

PDK Plug-ins

Mix web technologies and C/C++ components in a single app

Today, you can use the webOS Plug-in Development Kit (PDK) to build games and immersive apps in C/C++. But the feature that gives the PDK its name—the ability to build C/C++ plug-ins for your HTML/JavaScript/CSS apps—is still in beta as of 1.4.5.

This feature will exit beta in webOS 2.1, opening the door for you to distribute apps that incorporate PDK plug-ins. Using plug-ins, you can more easily port app logic from other platforms while leveraging the Mojo Framework to give users a familiar interface and integrate seamlessly into webOS.

Even if you’re not porting, plug-ins give you the option of utilizing the PDK for graphics- and performance-intensive features as needed, while building the rest of your app in HTML/JavaScript/CSS—and enjoying the lightweight development process and rapid iteration that these web technologies enable.

HTML5 Enhancements

Tap in to new capabilities for your apps and sites

webOS 2.1 adds a number of new HTML5 features and enhancements, giving you more tools to work with when building apps and sites for webOS. Highlights include:

  • Enhanced Canvas support, including image data and gradients
  • Support for Web Storage—both local and session storage
  • Geolocation support, allowing websites to access location information with the user’s permission
  • Application Cache, which lets websites cache resources on the device for offline use

And more…

Don’t think that this is all there is to webOS 2.1—these are just the highlights. We've added a lot of features that will give your apps more power and flexibility than ever. We're excited about what webOS 2.1 has to offer, and we think you will be, too!