webOS 2.0 developer features shown off, includes: Stacks, Just Type, Exhibition, and more

Yesterday Palm released a beta SDK of webOS 2.0 and man does it already look exciting. They gave us a look at some of the new features for webOS that are meant for the developers. Yeah, these features aren’t even front facing to consumers. However, the features are already pretty damn exciting for the end user. We’ll briefly go over what each of the 6 new features do.

First, and probably most exciting to the end-user, is a new feature called ‘Stacks’. Stacks are a new feature in webOS to improve the organization of your already mind-blowing multitasked applications. Palm really states it best.

webOS 2.0 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 2.0 automatically stacks cards for you when it makes sense, and you can also drag and drop cards to manage stacks yourself.

In other words, you won’t have to scroll through an extremely long list of apps in card view anymore. You can have them organized into stacks to make it easier to jump into an out of a desired application when you have a lot of them open.

Next up is the renewal of an old feature. ‘Universal Search’ is now called ‘Just Type’. There are 2 main features this new ‘Just Type’ has that are quite interesting. One of them is called ‘quick actions’. A user can now begin typing while in card view to begin an action. An example is starting an email, a text message, or in the case of a Twitter application, a tweet. They didn’t give a specific example, but we imagine it would be something like this. ‘Tweed: Just saying I love Quick Actions”. <- Typing something like this in the Universal Search (Just Type) would open Tweed or Spaz and you would see the text for your next tweet already typed out. Probably similar to what Google is doing with the Voice Actions on Android.

Next is HTML 5 Enhancement. Just reading through this probably is not as exciting for the end user, but it is going to allow some awesome features none the less and must be mentioned. webOS is based off web tools like HTML and Javascript, therefore it makes perfect sense for them to enhance the amount of features and capabilities of these web tools. Palm put up a list of some of the new features on their blog. They are in no particular order.

  • 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
  • Application Cache and Web Storage are huge. I am personally hoping one of these 2 features reduces the amount of times webOS refreshes the browser when it is out of memory.

    Then of course we have Synergy. Palm really does not get enough credit for this, but Palm was really the first to provide synergy across social networks, calendars, and contacts. They allowed you to see your Facebook, Yahoo, Google, and Exchange contacts all in one unified contact list. As mixing in AIM, Yahoo IM, and Google Talk contacts into the text message application for easy IMing. They are now fully opening up Synergy to 3rd party developers. This will allow 3rd party developers such as Microsoft or Facebook to tie in Live Messenger and Facebook chat respectively into Palm’s messaging app much like Google and Yahoo already have. Users will also be able to pull contact and calendar information from third party sources. Just because I am so excited for this, I will give another great example. Imagine an ESPN application. You tell the app you like the New Orleans Saints. So when you go to your calendar you can see all the scheduled Saints games already in there along with special events and signings. Yes that is awesome right? I agree. Moving on…

    The next exciting user facing feature that we didn’t know we wanted is Exhibition. This allows developers to tie their applications to the Pre, Pixi, and whatever other WebOS device is out via the Touchstone Charging dock. This means you can have an application display information while the phone is on a Touchstone. Palm’s example is Facebook photo albums displaying in a slideshow on the phone while it is on the charging station. This is pretty exciting to see and gives us hope that Palm will continue to use the Touchstone for their future devices.

    The last really notable feature is Javascript Services. Now I am not going to pretend I am a developer because I am not. Some of this is over my head. However, at the end of Palm’s description they dumb it down for people like me. Here is a quote taken directly from there blog on the matter.

    The popular Node.js runtime environment is built into webOS 2.0, 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.

    You don’t have to be too smart to know that low level networking and file system access is going to be awesome for developers. This means third party music applications, third party applications managing any files such as PDF’s, documents, and whatever else you can get your grubby little multitasking hands on.

    Conclusion

    So far what we see is pretty awesome. These are not final and there will obviously be even more features. These features are aimed specifically at developers. We will hopefully see a list of WebOS 2.0 features soon. Here is to hoping Palm/HP can produce some awesome hardware to go with their awesome OS.

    [Via Palm]

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    About Daniel Rodriguez
    I am 22 years old, I am a little bit new to writing but I love it and I am addicted to gadgets, whether it be Phones, PC's, OS's. Software. I love it all!

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