Palm is hard at work on the next version of the webOS, and has just announced what many of the most significant changes will be. These include stacks of cards, “Just Type”, and developer access to Synergy.
The webOS handles multitasking by displaying separate applications as cards. Version 2.0 is going to allow these cards to be grouped into stacks, making it easier to move quickly between tasks. The operating system will automatically stack cards when it makes sense, and users will be able to drag and drop cards to manage stacks themselves.
Palm is also making it easier to perform common tasks with a new feature called Just Type. Users will be able to start an email, create a message, update their status, or search their favorite websites from the homescreen by just starting to type.
In the new version, Synergy — Palm’s system for bringing in information from a wide array of sources — is being opened up to developers. The current system pulls in information from online services so, for instance, the address book can show Facebook data. With webOS 2.0, developers will be able to tie in their own apps, so an instant messaging app could appear inside the messaging app, for example.
In addition, version 2.0 is going to include an app called Exhibition, which will run automatically whenever a smartphone running it is placed in a Touchstone charging cradle, showing the user things such as today’s agenda to a slideshow of their Facebook photos. Developers will be able to add features to this app.
Palm said today that webOS 2.0 will be released “later this year”.
A beta version of the Software Developer Kit (SDK) is available now via the SDK Early Access Program. This will allow developers to start creating apps for the new version of this operating system.
More about the webOS
The webOS is the replacement for the venerable Palm OS. It is a multi-tasking, touch-oriented operating system able to wirelessly synchronize a wide variety of data with online services like Google, Yahoo, and Facebook, as well as Microsoft Exchange.
The webOS includes an on-device app store, and a growing collection of third-party software is available.
It was developed by Palm when it was an independent company. HP recently acquired Palm primarily to get access to the webOS.