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Android User Spends 60 Days In WebOS Land 137

An anonymous reader writes "About six months ago, however, I began to wonder about how the other mobile products had grown. When the HTC HD7 crossed my path a little while ago, I decided to abandon my Nexus S and live among the Windows Phone folks for awhile. The experience was fun, but I eventually went back to my Nexus S. About a month later, I was presented with the opportunity to repeat the experiment, only this time with a Palm Pre Plus. With the HP Touchpad on its way, I wanted to get a feel for how WebOS worked, explore the differences, and take a look into the community that was still loyal to WebOS."
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Android User Spends 60 Days In WebOS Land

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  • by Compaqt ( 1758360 ) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @11:56AM (#36863086) Homepage

    1. Konami code [] activates developer mode (i.e., root or jailbroken). No muss, no fuss.

    2. The "card" metaphor to represent running apps. Slide to switch, throw away to kill.

    3. It's Linux, and mostly open source. (Shares that with Android.)
    3b. Not M$, not Apple, for people that care (shares that with Android).

    4. Apps are in HTML/Javascript. Easy. Or C++ (harder but faster to run)

    5. Touch to move stuff between Pre and TouchPad.

    6. Looks nice. Fonts, layout, icons, etc.

    7. The homebrew community []

  • by strat ( 39913 ) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @12:45PM (#36863350)

    Speaking as a former Mac developer and someone currently having to work with Android network stacks, WebOS seems to have thought more about human factors in a coherent way than either iOS or Android.

    One word: Notifications. The notifications system in WebOS is the epitome of "considerate." Whether it's of users' time or attention or screen real estate, they have created a UI that very capably tells the user when something important happens, and gets out of the way while discreetly leaving a telltale that there's something to acknowledge. The notifications systems on both iOS and Android are clunky by comparison.

    Apple traditionally spends a lot of time thinking about human factors, but compared to their almost religious fervor for human interface guideline compliance in the pre-OSX era, these days they're on a fast track to MS Windows-level UI inconsistency. Well, perhaps not quite that fragmented, but it is what it is.

    Android vendors have approached this by grafting on their own proprietary chrome, but some of those are better than others.

    I invite anyone who really cares about intuitive usability to try out WebOS. Even on a first generation Palm Pre, it's noteworthy.

    From a hacking and customization perspective, I have yet to see a system as friendly as WebOS. Palm and HP have taken their sweet time with some of the SDK/PDK releases, but they've also done things to make it about as easy for developers as one can imagine. Having a full IDE running in a web browser is both a neat hack and rather convenient. Pretty much everything other than time-critical code is in Javascript.

    That openness does not come without some potential downsides. While I love that I can customize my phone by tweaking a line of Javascript, I can't help but feel a nagging concern that there are security implications inherent in some of the choices Palm/HP made. It remains to be seen how pervasive those might be, but I'm remaining wary. It won't stop me from using the handset (yet), as I have yet to find anything else as friendly, open, and customizable.

  • Re:The Want (Score:4, Informative)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @05:53PM (#36865316) Journal

    You use any bluetooth keyboard on the planet, with phone or iPad.

    It's not a solution. A phone with an integrated physical keyboard is a vastly better experience than having a keyboard that you have to lug separately from your phone.

    since the ultimate point of any device is to run software you can make use of - and there the iPhones/iPads truly offer "far more" choice.

    That's arguable. Sure, iOS app store has more apps, but on both iOS and Android, vast majority of apps in the store are useless crap.

    Focusing on those which are not, it depends on what your needs are. If you already use Google services (GMail/Talk/Voice/...) a lot, then Android offers a far better experience, since it has native full-featured clients for all of those. Ditto for Apple services, though they have fewer adherents outside of iTMS.

    If you want Skype, it's a bit of a draw - on iPhone you have the best version to date, complete with video chat; but there is no iPad support, so you have to run the phone version. On Android you have proper version for both phones and tablets, but video chat is only available on selected phone models.

    If you want games, then iOS generally has more of them, and they are higher quality, but some gems - like Majesty - are only available on Android so far. Also, Android has DOSBox, and I was surprised just how much I enjoyed the old point-and-click quests (like "Legend of Kyrandia") on my Android tablet.

    For productivity apps it's a draw. For all the hype about Pages/Numbers, they are pretty limited feature-wise in practice. Third-party Office packages exist for both platforms, and usually have the same features and limitations (in many cases, it's the same apps). Android gets a bonus in having a dedicated Exchange client (TouchDown) which doesn't pollute your phone's contact list and mailbox, and can be PIN-locked and remote wiped in isolation from the rest of your data. Android gets a further bonus for having MS Office Communicator / Lync client. iOS gets a huge bonus for OS-wide support of HTTP proxies, which Android has only got in 3.1 (what the fuck, Google?).

    For web browsing, Android is way ahead. Even if we just look at the stock browser, mobile Safari is fairly inconvenient - most annoying is that it doesn't have an option to open tabs in background, so every time I want to open a link "for later", I have to open in new tab, and then switch to the original tab. It also decides to reload page opened in a tab if you left it it in background for "too long" (which can be just a few minutes in practice). This is exceedingly annoying when you were writing a comment on some forum, opened a new tab to do the needed research, and then switch back just to see your comment form reloaded, and everything you've typed in it gone. That Apple could make such a horrible UX is unbelievable. Then, of course, there's no ad blocking. And minor stuff like not being able to open more than 9 tabs. And third-party browsers? They exist, and they solve all of these problems, but there's no way to set them as default in iOS; so any link you open in any other app will still open in Safari. Grrr!

    In contrast, in Android you have a pretty decent stock browser which doesn't have any of the stupidities described above. You have a bunch of third-party browsers built on the same WebKit engine but with variously different UIs. Then you have browsers using their own engines - namely Firefox (extensions! AdBlock!), and Opera (holy shit this thing is fast... as smooth as Safari, but you never see the checkerboard!). And what's most important is that you can make any of those browsers system default, so it will handle all HTTP links.

    Oh yes, there's Flash. This one is so-so - it's still sluggish on Android, and has some annoyances of its own, such as intercepting scroll gestures if they fall onto the plugin. On the other hand, it's still useful to have occasionally when you need to view a Flash-based webs

"You must have an IQ of at least half a million." -- Popeye