When HP announced the TouchPad at their press event, they also proclaimed it would be shipping with a new release of webOS their operating system based on Linux and web technologies. They’ve recently opened up their webOS 3.0 Developer Beta and are providing exclusive access to the new SDK which comes bundled with an emulator. The PreCentral blog has posted screen captures of some of the features in webOS 3.0 including a change from Google Maps to Bing Maps, a new spacious and glorious looking virtual keyboard and a very plain looking Messaging and Music interface.
Bing Maps has replaced the aging and old Google Maps app on webOS. Many webOS users complain about the slow functionality of Google Maps on their devices, hopefully this allows for the much needed faster interface as well as leveraging their existing partnerships for an overall better experience.
HP has also enabled the previously hidden virtual keyboard (all their currently available devices have physical keyboards) showing off a full 5 rows, complete with size adjustment and what looks like a button that moves the cursor to the next text field for input.
Both the Messaging and Music applications are very sparse looking, granted they are not filled up with any content. The Music player has a very minimalistic feel that provides straight forward and quick access to playback controls as well as playlist and song selection. The Messaging application uses their very popular Synergy service that integrates multiple IM services into one seamless view. Contacts on the left and content on the right, it’s very clean and concise.
The TouchPad is rumored to be available by June 2011 and coming in at a $699 price point puts it head to head with some of the competition including the Blackberry Playbook, iPad 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Hopefully webOS can shine through with the existing multitasking and integration features as well as building up their ecosystem and App Catalog.