How Palm webOS Works

Touring webOS

WebOS has a user-friendly, multimedia interface similar to that found on the iPhone, and it's currently showcased on the Pre smartphone, the first device to be released with the new operating system. A quick look at system on the Pre reveals a similar layout to the iPhone with applications arranged in rows of three and a Quick Launch bar containing four applications at the bottom. Graphically speaking, webOS is aesthetically pleasing. The colors are rich and applications look crisp and detailed. Like the iPhone, the Pre employs a touch-screen interface for navigation. This is perhaps where webOS differs from the rest of the competition.

Like Apple's iPhone, webOS is built around using a touch-screen interface. However, not all users prefer the touch-screen-only approach. As a result, webOS engineers designed an operating system that can be used with only a touch screen or in combination with a physical keyboard. Like applications designed for the iPhone, webOS developers write Ajax-based software. Traditionally, Web applications are HTML-based and use HTTP as the main vehicle of communication. Once a request has been sent, the application waits for a response before updating, which slows down the program. Ajax applications, however, handle user interactions directly and transfer information asynchronously. In the end, they're faster than their HTML counterparts [source: Palm].

WebOS offers users a breadth of features you would expect to find on a personal computer. Contacts, calandars, e-mail and a full Web browser are all included with the operating system. You can even use the device to pull contacts from your various e-mail accounts and contact lists from your favorite social networking sites to create a personalized profile known as your Palm profile. Like many other smartphone systems now, webOS also offers software for developers to build applications. Palm made sure to ramp up its application development for third-party vendors to coincide with its launch in June 2009 (the Pre), again in the wake of Apple's success. Third-party applications ultimately will be vital to webOS's success.

Palm's webOS 1.2 version features the ability to purchase Amazon MP3 songs over a phone network, negating the need for WiFi, and credit card information can be stored in your Palm profile for future use with an upcoming e-commerce application.